Lower and Middle School students enjoyed a special treat last week when John Harris, Jr.* visited to help the Academy celebrate our 205th Charter Day on April 4. Charter Day is a special tradition at the Academy that connects our students to the legacy of the Harris family and the settlement of this area. Mr. Harris greeted students as they came into school in the morning and spoke with Lower School students prior to the start of their academic day. At an assembly for Middle School students, Mr. Harris spoke about the settling of this region and the establishment of Dauphin County, the City of Harrisburg, and Harrisburg Academy.
A highlight of the presentation was when Mr. Harris fielded questions from students and faculty. Mr. Harris shared stories of his own educational experiences and the reasons why he felt it was so important to establish a school in this area. John Harris, Jr. returned the favor by asking questions about the “peculiar fashions” that current-day Academy students wore and the “odd custom” of boys wearing their hair short. He was equally surprised that young ladies did not have their hair covered in public, as was the custom during his day.
Even with the vision that John Harris Jr. had when founding Harrisburg Academy, I’m sure he could not have imagined what his school would become. In his time, Harrisburg was at the edge of the frontier west. In its earliest years, the Academy educated many who would venture forth and expand our nation. Today, the Academy with its International Baccalaureate Diploma program and global focus prepares its students to be leaders in our global and local community.
What an amazing journey it’s been!
*John Harris, Jr. was portrayed by local Pastor Dave Biser who has done historic impersonations of John Harris, Jr. throughout the region for years. Pastor Biser bases his presentations upon the writings of John Harris, Jr. and stays very true to his character. All of the attire is period appropriate and authentic to what would have been worn by Mr. Harris, himself.