10 Aug 1953 Holland Eve Sent. Rev. John Van Vleck
"This is Raalfe This Is our city, Â£ut let us not forget that -we did not create it. We inherited it, -- and to appreciate our trust Â·we need to refresh ourselves occasionally on what our founders put into it. This series of heritage highlights, appearing weekly by popular request, is presented in the public interest by the First National Bank. Number fourteen of a Series on Holland's Heritage. Holland prides itself on its educational forces, as well It should, and for all the more reason when the early struggles to implant an educational program in the kolonie are considered. The need^for learning English was immediately recognized by the Dutch founders of 1847, and in that year an American, Mr. Ira Hoyt, was engaged to set up the first school in a small building on-the Van Der Haar farm east of the city. When the log church at the cemetery was completed, the school was moved there. In 1849 the first woman teacher was engaged, Miss Elvira Langdon of Allegan. At first under the supervision of the church, the elementary school soon passed into the jurisdiction of a newly formed school district. On June 29, 1848, Holland's first school board was organized, with A. C. Van Raalte, moderator, H. D. Post, director, and W. J. Mulder, assessor. The church subsequently set up its Own private scho*ol. This was brought about in 1856 as a result of the community's apathy toward the public school where more than two hundred children were taught by two teachers. Through the unflagging leadership of Van Raalte, and his not-to-be-denied insistence that the educational standards be raised so as to better fit the community for taking advantage of its American opportunities, the church was also prevailed upon to establish an Academy for higher learning, and for preparing students for Rutgers College. R.ev. Van der Meulen of Zeeland joined with Raalte in the effort to establish the Academy, the General Synod finally did in 1852. To Van this was his anchor of Hope, even though the made its inauspicious start with a Synod donation one hundred dollars and Van Raalte's contribution five acres of land. Mr. Walter Taylor of Geneva, was the Academy's first principal and sole instructor. In 1855 the Rev. John Van Vleck came from East to become the principal, finding neither nor equipment. Van Raalte again asserted himself demanding that money somehow be forthcoming the Academy to have its own building, even to his followers the ultimatum that unless they acted within twelve days he would accept a call from Pella, That did, it, and after much hard work the sum twelve thousand dollars was raised, with which brick building known as Van Vleck Hall was Rev. Philip Phelps, Jr., followed Mr. Van Vleck 1859, and under his regime the Academy students pitched in with him to build the second building their own hands. It was called the gymnasium, long used as a chapel, and when it was publicly dedicated at the Commencement in July, 1862, it the official beginning of Hope College.