by Marcia Napier, Grain Valley Historical Society
As a nearly lifelong resident of Grain Valley and one who attended twelve years of school in the same two-story brick schoolhouse where my parents graduated in 1932, I am astounded. But then, as I think back over those past many years, I realize that like our community, most of the growth has occurred in the past twenty-five years.
In January 1996, the high school moved from Main Street to the present location on Eagles Parkway. Many of you will remember the first phase of that building housed the middle school. The second phase included athletic facilities and by the fall of 1996, the high school plus eighth graders, about 475 students attended school there. The middle school campus on Main Street housed fourth through seventh graders, about 480 students and Matthews Elementary was used for kindergarten through third grade. In total, the district had approximately 1,400 students, doubling the number just 10 years earlier. In 1996, more that 200 housing permits were issued.
Twenty-five years ago, in April 1996, the bond issue was passed to build the second elementary school. Sni-A-Bar Elementary was, of course, built on the campus with the high school. Since then the Early Childhood Center, two more elementary schools, two middle schools, and numerous additions to the senior high school have been added. And enrollment has increased by more than 300%.
Twenty-five years ago baseball, softball, and wrestling were “new” sports. Grain Valley was playing nine varsity sports in the Show-Me West Conference with Butler, Holden, Pembroke Hill, St. Mary’s and Sherwood. Today, Grain Valley is one of the 27 schools in the Kansas City Suburban Conference and they participate in 17 varsity sports, band, choir, cheer and dance, speech and debate, and Scholar Bowl. And, they have their own broadcasting studio with GVTV!
Twenty-five years, in the fall of 1996, all of the classrooms throughout the district were air conditioned for the first time. The district has a “vision” for an aggressive program in the future to make the internet available to all high school students. I can only imagine what a COVID-19 outbreak would have looked like twenty-five years ago!
A few years ago, my brother and his wife were visiting from Florida. I drove them around the district to see all of the new additions. From the Pink Hill Campus on the North to Stony Point on the South, we saw the administration building (originally the home of my high school classmate Nancy Norris), North Middle School, the Early Childhood Center, Prairie Branch, Matthews, Stony Point Elementary and Middle School, Sni-A-Bar, Moody Murry Stadium, the tennis courts, the softball and baseball complex, the greenhouse, the athletic building, and the Transportation Center.
But only once did he ask me to stop and take a picture. He was “blown away” by the two semi-trailers that haul the equipment for the Marching Eagles! In 1961, the year he graduated there were 11 members in the band. Times change!