The famous Jack McKenna science reports written by students after their sixth grade field trip to Estes Park are one of the most important parts of our archival collection. The trip and the man himself have provided hundreds of stories that alumni still recall today. Like his fifth and sixth grade colleague, Nancy Priest, he is a legend. Jack may have returned to his beloved Delaware, but his contributions to the school, too numerous to list here, represent the best of Graland past.
Carol McKenna Weber graciously accepted the Development Office’s invitation to speak about Jack at the first Master Teachers' Reception:
“It’s a long way from Chesapeake Bay and the Atlantic Ocean to the deserts and canyons and rivers of Utah, but the openness of the West and a high school buddy lured Jack to Utah State to pursue a major in biology. He loved the mountains, hunting, and fishing, and football, and Utah offered it all. Originally, Jack wanted to be a wildlife biologist, but he put that career on hold to fulfill his military obligation to the U.S. Marines. During his six years of service, he taught young men cold weather training (with an emphasis on using skis in tactical operations), tank gunnery, and even boxing! The lure of the mountains and cross-country skiing and fishing brought him back to the West-- to Graland. The love of teaching and the West kept him here for thirty-one years.
“Teaching science in the field was his life’s work. He passionately shared his knowledge and not even the smallest of plant life went unnoticed by his eagle eyes. He has shared his love and talent for cross-country skiing with students. He was the quintessential ‘Old Man of the River.’ His room bustled with activity, animals, plants, inventions, discussions, and debates.
“Jack inspired many students to pursue a career in biology, wildlife management, medicine, or other science fields. Countless former students write to him to tell that he challenged them, believed in them, expanded their minds, and taught them life skills.”
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.