Why Build Grundy Academy?
Why Build Grundy Academy?

In an article Wednesday, we wrote about a celebrity golf tournament Sept. 10 that raised $56.6 million for the endowment fund of Mountain Mission School in Grundy, Va.

It was the largest single-day PGA-sanctioned fund-raiser ever. In that article, we noted that Mountain Mission School was founded in 1921 by successful Grundy businessman Sam Hurley. The first president of the school was Josephus Hopwood, who had served as president of Milligan College.

A little more study this morning revealed Hopwood attended the College of the Bible at Kentucky University where he studied under Robert Milligan and J.W. McGarvey. In 1875 he and his wife arrived at Buffalo Male and Female Institute in Carter County, Tenn., where they worked as administrators. In 1881 a cornerstone for a new building was laid, and at that ceremony, Hopwood announced the new building would be named Milligan College, after his beloved professor.

While serving as president of Milligan, Hopwood was approached about starting a college in Lynchburg, Va. On his 60th birthday in 1903, the property for Virginia Christian College was purchased. Hopwood served as president of the college from its founding until 1911. The college changed its name to Lynchburg College in 1919. (Hopwood later served an interim two-year presidency with Milligan College starting in 1915.)

Hurley coaxed Hopwood out of retirement to serve with Mountain Mission School, which initially was known as Grundy Academy, then Mountain Industrial Institute.

Here are excerpts of a letter Hurley and Hopwood wrote to Christian Standard from 95 years ago. It was published March 17, 1923, under the headline, “Why Build Grundy Academy?”

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Why Build Grundy Academy?

1.  There are multitudes of young people throughout the mountains of Virginia, West Virginia and Kentucky who have no educational advantages above the sixth or seventh grades of the public schools, and many do not have these advantages unless they walk from three to five miles of mountain road. As a result of these conditions, one-third of the native citizens can neither read nor write. Grundy is near the center of the most destitute section, and has a nucleus of intelligent citizens who are looking forward and eager to bring in better conditions.

2.  In large areas there are no Sunday schools, and some citizens oppose establishing them. The public schools make no provision for teaching the word of God, and some authorities oppose the use of schoolhouses for religious purposes. Yet the stability, the safety of our republic—indeed, of what Christian civilization the world has—rests upon the truths of this Word. Remove these truths from our educational system, and the gates are open for a flood of anarchy and ruin. Their elimination from the State schools during the last fifty years is developing a serious menace to this republic. We are giving youth intellectual training and liberty without educating them in reverence for law, human or divine. This has raised up in our land a breed of daring, defiant young criminals such as our country has never before known. And this is produced through education without like teaching of the higher laws of God and the certain penalties of their violation. Our hope lies in an improved system of training for boys and girls. The principles of truths and righteousness must somehow be engrafted into their characters during their school period. An industrial Christian institution conducted by men and women who love their work and who are themselves, in word and act, worthy patterns for young people to follow, will send out citizens whose characters and influence will show to the world the wisdom of universal Christian education.

3.  Teachers in public schools are not all Christians. The life and habits of some of these make them unfit examples for youth. The more able such teachers are in classwork, the more likely are students to follow as patterns.

4.  Numbers of young people go through the grades, and would take up high school if the opportunity was offered, but have not the means to go away to school and pay $300 to $500 a year expenses. Unless provision is made where they can, at least in part, help themselves, they will remain in their present state, as have so many of their parents before them. . . .

[5.]  Some one may say: “Why not send the mountain students to the church colleges?” These colleges have cut off preparatory departments, and where high schools are sometimes connected with the colleges the expense is prohibitory to 90 per cent of the young people in the Allegheny region. . . . An industrial academy or junior college planted in their midst will open the way. This meets the call of those who can not bear the expense of the standardized boarding-schools in the city. The academy will also answer the demands of young people who, in connection with a general education, want to acquire at least preparatory knowledge of some useful trades and industries. Further, the institution will be an open door for the young people who must rely wholly upon their own efforts. Also, many parents, while they have access to high schools at their homes, prefer sending their sons and daughters where the Bible is made a part of the educational course.

6.  The dormitory boarding facilities are planned with reference to health and economy. The regulations will give due allowance for play and recreation, but will carefully seek to turn all students from the waste of money and time in fads, feasts and society revelries. The spirit and purpose of the teachers will visualize and work above these follies. While acquiring a general preparatory education, students can obtain the elements of some vocation work, as gardening, fruit-growing, domestic science, carpentry, blacksmithing, plastering, painting and other lines. And every hour so used will pay that much of their school expense. The zeal and interest in acquiring this practical knowledge and experience in a useful calling under Christian teachers will beget strength and confidence to the student himself.

The vision and stimulus of such a school will extend its blessings, not only to those trained in the institution and to their homes, but the world at large will receive benefits many times beyond the cost and sacrifices made to establish and conduct such a school.

We have purchased over 500 acres of land on which to build, part of this being valuable coal land, at a price of $43,000. We have paid on same $17,200, and have notes and pledges to meet balance. In addition to the amount purchase, there has been given and deeded to the academy a royalty of five cents on each ton of coal mined on 496 acres.

We are now planning to erect a dormitory this spring and summer which will accommodate more than one hundred students, also affording temporary chapel and recitation rooms. This building, when completed, will cost over $40,000.

Will you not assist us in helping these poor, but bright, boys and girls of the mountains to obtain a practical Christian education?

Write the undersigned.

J. Hopwood.
Pres. Grundy Academy.

S.R. Hurley.
Chmn. Board Trustees.

Grundy, Va.

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—Jim Nieman, managing editor, Christian Standard

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