FOUNDING OF THE ACADEMY
page 9, (By Rev. J. A. De Spelder)
In September 1895 a commemorative column will be erected near Spirit Lake , Iowa (by authority of the government) as a constant reminder of the terrible murder which the Indians committed on the first white settlers there.
And see the same September month silver anniversary will be celebrated of a successful settlement, removed only sixty miles from the blood bath and undertaken only fourteen years later by the brave sons of the famous Batavians.
How faithful these pioneers were to the ideal of their ancestors is evident in history. That ideal placed religion on the foreground, but never lost sight of the value of a proper education for the elevation of society. Worthy descendants of them, who, when they were offered a reward, requested that they be given the Academy. For, at the time of the writer's installation as Principal, the Rev. Bolks remarked that when he was called in 1871 to serve the first congregation in the new colony, that “even though it was not mentioned in the letter, there was already the hope to set up an Academy in this town ere long. This matter seemed so desirable that he accepted the call right away.” (see De Volksvriend Volume X, no. 6)Because of the hardship which the colony soon suffered, this hope grew dim. The Rev. Bolks expressed in the same speech, somewhat naively: “the grasshoppers, took it with them.” But soon as this affliction had passed, the peoples' desire for higher education became public again. Plans were made. A building was constructed quickly. The principal was called and installed; the classes were formed, and higher education became a reality.
The building (etc.) was small and simple, in comparison with the room and possessions that gladden our heart now; but “who despises the day of the small things?” The little acorn first – and with that the large, well developed tree stands in inevitable relationship.
The act of incorporation was drafted in 1882. In the fall of 1883 the principal of the public school, assisted by teachers of the towns of Orange City and Alton , began to prepare a few young men. On January 14, 1884 , I accepted my work, and was installed as principal of the new Academy the next day. How glad, for example, the Rev. Bolks was on that day, I can remember very well, and anyone can understand why. He saw his precious hope realized. And his prayer of thanks was the mouth piece of many hearts.
Much had to be done now. In the first place, there was only one teacher. The twelve pupils who had come together on the first day, had grown to seventeen by the end of the next week, and during the second week it became twenty-five. Even before the first school year came to a finish, the second story of our school was finished off, and brother Van Zanten was appointed as fellow laborer.
Steadily the development continued. May it continue, until by God's goodness, the ideal has become a reality in all aspects. Therefore we have applied the hopeful language of Virgil to the difficulties and struggles of the early years; “Forsitan haec olim – “ etc. Perhaps the after-life will be happy to be reminded even of these things.”