This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. By continuing to use this website, you consent to our use of these cookies.
Graland History Blog

Enjoying the Campus from the Outside In!

Jim Arneill '66
Since the parent and alumni communities are currently unable to be on campus, it seemed fitting to share some interesting historical information about part of the school campus everyone can see from a distance - Preisser Field.  Our hope is that with a greater knowledge of parts of our school’s history, there will be an even greater appreciation.
Who was Chester Preisser and why is the main athletic field named for him? 

Chet, as he was known to colleagues, family, and friends, was the first physical education teacher at Graland.  He also taught shop from 1927 starting as half days while a student at the University of Denver until his retirement in 1971.

While at D.U., Chet was recruited by school co-founders Mrs. Shafroth, Mrs. Toll, and Mrs. Waring to come to Graland.  Not only did he possess a wonderful demeanor for working with children, he was also a championship gymnast, wrestler, boxer, and star quarterback.  Chet fascinated children and adults with his mastery of magic tricks, and he also did square dance calling and instruction on the side.  The D.U. Promenaders visited Graland on many occasions to inspire his own students who got to learn how to square dance on Friday afternoon lessons. 

Outside of Graland, Chet also was highly distinguished in the swimming realm.  In 1934, the Denver Country Club hired him as its first swimming coach, and for the next thirty-four years, he taught swimming lessons, coached the swim teams, managed the swim shop, taught Red Cross life saving courses, and impacted the lives of generations there as well. 

What may have been the most important characteristic of Chet was his ability to have students learn by creating and doing along the lines of John Dewey’s progressive education philosophy.  From students making the Indian pueblos and kivas they learned about in class to building a chariot and having it pulled by a borrowed horse to study Rome, Chet looked at every learning opportunity from an active involvement angle.

In physical education, students looked up to a fairly small framed, muscular, and generally soft-spoken man.  They learned not only the basics of a good physical education but also the importance of good sportsmanship.

Today, when children play and compete on Preisser Field, they are intertwined with the name of one of our school’s finest teachers.

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.