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Class Notes and Alumni News

Priceless: Graland archives and heritage project preserves school history

By Mimi McMann, Associate Director of Communications
In our nearly 100-year history, Graland has educated thousands of students, held hundreds of events, established dozens of traditions, and watched some of the world’s finest educators practice their craft in and out of the classroom. While there are many precious intangibles related to these factors, the tangible evidence of the Graland legacy can be found in an expansive collection of artifacts, documents, and photographs going back to the school’s earliest years. It’s no small task to identify, preserve, and catalog these items, and we are fortunate to have a team of volunteers with the passion and expertise to keep Graland history alive.
The Archives Team
A small team of amateur historians -- Graland alumni from different eras -- uses their shared love for Graland to preserve and raise awareness about the school’s history. Jim Arneill ‘66, Ed Murane ‘78, and Ann Ladd ‘87 Ryan are the hands and hearts who ensure Graland’s history is not forgotten. 

“One of our main goals is to show how Graland’s history is relevant today,” said Jim. “It’s really the bridge that connects past and present students.”

The archival work itself goes back many years, according to Master Teacher Phil Hickey, himself something of a Graland heirloom after spending 41 years on our campus. He recalls the “Herculean” efforts of four women who laid the foundation for the Graland archives; Ruth Gorham, Betty Clarke, Renee Rockford, and Candace Cross (formerly Suechting) began the process of gathering and organizing boxes of materials -- photos, tapes, newspaper clippings, and school publications from the 1930s onward. From 2016-2018, Mr. Hickey took over their work, spending countless hours in the basement of the Georgia Nelson Building creating order from chaos.

“My interest in history came from Ruth Gorham,” said Phil. “When I first came to Graland, Ruth had just written the first history book, and I obviously devoured it in a weekend. She was forever filling me with stories. I wish I had documented them because now her stories are lost. The school’s history became my passion as a result of Ruth.”

Got Graland Memorabilia?
Today, the Archive Committee needs our community’s support to carry on this priceless work. Alumni and families can help preserve Graland’s history by donating memorabilia, such as knighting shields, sports jerseys, art pieces, and class projects, to the school. You can also share the lore that accompanies it. 

Contact Jeri Volpe, Associate Director of Community Relations at 303-399-8370 or jvolpe@graland.org to donate a special Graland item. 

Access the Archives
Notable artifacts and photos are on display in the Corkins Center as a way to celebrate the humble early years and educate current students and families on the long, proud history of the school. Although campus is closed to parents and visitors this year, the display remains and we look forward to when we can welcome visitors back on campus again. Other work of the archives team can be found online under the Alumni tab on the Graland website. There are digitized copies of the two history books that together document the school’s beginning. “Graland Country Day School - The First 50 Years” is Master Teacher Ruth Gorham’s book that came out in 1977. It was followed in 2002 by “Climb Every Mountain - The Story of Graland Country Day School,” written by Rosemary Fetter in recognition of Graland’s 75th anniversary. These treasures honor the school’s founding families, first students, enrollment growth, and exceptional educational program.

Graland Country Day School

Graland Country Day School is a private school in Denver, Colorado, serving students in preschool, kindergarten, elementary, and middle school. Founded in Denver in 1927, Graland incorporates a rich, experiential learning approach in a traditional classroom setting, emphasizing the development of globally and socially conscious leaders who excel academically.