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School Stories

Graland Country Day School - What's in a Name?

Jim Arneill, School Archives Committee
When the current school site was selected in 1928, can you picture what this area looked like?  Imagine a wide-open, spacious prairie with only two buildings - the Cranmer Mansion at 200 Cherry Street and an old brick house built by John Leet. There was "nothing but sagebrush and prairie dogs to the east, farms, and dairies to the south, and the city camp to the west (now the Cherry Creek Shopping Center)."
The beginnings of Graland took place at various rented buildings near the downtown area, and the school was incorporated a few years later. The school leaders sought a desirable location for the new school. Ruth Porter Waring was a principal founder, and her husband, Dr. James J. Waring, was a pulmonary physician. He advocated for a site that would be healthy for the children "High on a hill, away from the smoke and air pollution in the lower-lying areas of the city."
 
The idea of a "country day school" was very popular at the time and included principles of the new progressive movement in education. By good fortune, the Warings had developed a friendship with Mrs. Verner Reed, a philanthropist who owned tracts of land in the Hilltop and Country Club neighborhoods. When approached about the land, Mrs. Reed insisted on donating the land, and after consulting her lawyer, she deeded the majority of the school land, thirty lots, for $10.00 in the spring of 1928.  Two other small land purchases in 1931 and 1939 completed the entire two-block area.
 
In the early years of the school, the school was truly in a country setting.  Colorado Boulevard was a dirt road, and there were no streets, sidewalks, or street lights.
 
Highly acclaimed architect and parent Jacque Benois Benedict was hired to design the new building, an elegant structure with special, wide windows to help capture the "open space, sunshine, and fresh air." 
 
According to Cope McWhinney Craven, the oldest living graduate of the school, the early students were driven to the new school by moms, dads, and carpools. Some families lived in the Country Club and Cheesman Park neighborhoods, others came from south Denver, Park Hill, and some even lived in the foothills. There were carpools, and when a car arrived, one of the teachers would make an announcement.
 
A special structure, probably constructed by gym and shop teacher Chester Preisser, was built to house a collection of typical farm animals - chickens, ducks, a pig, a horse, and a pair of donkeys, which also pulled a Sicilian cart full of children.

How fun it is to look back in time and imagine those earliest days when Graland was truly a country day school!
 
*Main source of information: "Climb Every Mountain - The Story of Graland Country Day School" by Rosemary Fetter
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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 1924, Graland incorporates a rich, experiential learning approach in a traditional classroom setting, emphasizing the development of globally and socially conscious leaders who excel academically.