(By Rev. J. F. Zwemer)
Let no one despise the day of the small things. That day did last a bit long, and sometimes tempted hope, but it appeared to be the dawn of better things.
How small and insignificant these things of the first days were, appears from the etching. This simple “Academy House” as it was called, stood on the square for seven years, alone and isolated, and who can tell what all it was used for, or all that was gossiped in these 3 years of lectures! It was the old history: “Some believed it and some did not.”
For the supporters of the work, however, it was a pledge of a better future. They who believed learned to wait and work, and hoped, and were not in a hurry. That hope was realized. The founder of the colony had not given the future Academy a large lot in vain; the first president of the Board, the Rev. Bolks, and fellow founders of the school, the Rev. Buursma and Warnshuis, with yet others who are still living, had not done their part in vain to have people respect the Academy.
And therefore we did not appeal to the generosity of our friends in vain in these early years, which enabled the Board to construct a new building.
We know and remember all the worries, and trials, and also the support and blessing; we know that many prayers were said and answered. Considering that the Academy, in the short time of 10 years, already gave to the church and society 3 teachers, 20 students for the Gospel Ministry, and 30 pupils, or followers of other high and noble profession and about…illegible...
amount of teachers for our public school, and at present is training about 80 student-teachers, we are called to profess: “The One who built all this, is God.”
In this confession we boast; with that we can continue. The principle of this confession gave power and courage, and it will keep us and bless us.
The academy did not all of a sudden appear from the first sober house to this present beautiful edifice. She struggled and rove about, she also learned to walk as guest and stranger.From 1886 to 1895 we found accommodations in the old “Skating Rink,” now the City Hall. If the cradle of the Academy was in the Pioneer School , it was in the Rink that we learned to walk.
The 100 foot long building was nicknamed by some an ark; and indeed, it became (through the wonderful gift of a friend in the East) an ark of salvation.
There we were kept; there we grew, and grew from strength to strength; there the students came as doves to their windows, from there systematic efforts to self-reliance began; from there the blessed Providence led us to a permanent place of living, where we wish to remain with the youth entrusted to us. Thanks to those who know that they are heirs of the promised land: “ Me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”
Permit us, in this connection to make history with the following facts and dates:
Settlement of Town and Colony in ……1870
Incorporation of the Board of Trustees.. 1882
Preparative education in the public
school by Prof. J. J. Van Zanten…….. 1882
Formal opening of the Academy,
September 23, 1883 ………………1883
Installation of the first Principal, the
Rev. J. A. De Spelder, January 14…....1884
Purchase of the Skating Rink……………1886
Installation of the present Principal
Rev. J. F. Zwemer, September 24…….1890
List of the Teachers:
Rev. J. J. Van Zanten……….. 1883-87
Rev. J. W. Warnshuis……….. 1883-84
Rev. A. Buursma………….… 1883-84
Rev. J. A. De Spelder, Princ. 1884-88
Rev. W. J. Skillman………… 1885-85
Mr. Isaac Betten……………. 1885-86
Mr. Henry P. Oggel, M.D…... 1886-91
Miss Nellie Zwemer………... 1887-90
Miss Emma Kollen…………. 1887-91
Rev.A.Buursma,Acting Princ.. 1888-89
Rev. J. A. De Spelder, Princ.. 1889-90
Rev. Jas. F. Zwemer, Princ… 1890-
Prof. John B. Nykerk……….. 1890-91
Prof. Herbert G. Kepper…… 1891-92
Prof. John M. Vander Meulen 1891-93
Prof. E. Christian Oggel……. 1891-94
Miss Fanny A. Steffens…….. 1892-94
Prof. Anthony TePaske…….. 1893-
Miss Cornelia A.Vander Linden..1894-
Prof. Philip Soulen………….. 1894-
Miss Henrietta Zwemer…….. 1895-
And now, we should consider that this school, (as any other institution of her kind) is a child of the church, a fruit of prayers and sacrifice of our fathers and their love for their descendants, and a blessed means to make this area really rich and influential. We should consider how this Academy had her needs while the colony grew so much in prosperity that in a few decades the people were able to raise $17,210 for Christian education, not including all that was given to church and society, for Boards of education in either East or West, for endowment and buildings. Thinking of all these deeds and undeserved blessings; we say: “The Lord has made great things: let us rejoice in Him.”