Today in 2014, Charter Day is part of the Academy’s distinctive culture and identity.
Charter Day is celebrated every April 4. It commemorates the day in 1809 when the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania approved a request by Academy trustees to incorporate the school that John Harris, Jr. had started on his property 25 years previously, in 1784.
A remarkable facsimile of the 1809 charter hangs on the wall outside the Lower School Library. The charter was a gift generously donated by the Taliaferro family to the Academy.
We celebrated our first Charter Day in 2008, under the beautiful Rotunda of our commonwealth’s capitol building. On that day, state senator, Jeffrey Picolla, proclaimed Charter Day to an assembly of 4th, 8th, and 12th grade students and faculty from the Academy. In 2009, we celebrated Charter Day jointly with our magnificent Triple Anniversary Gala with a crowd of over 400 Academy friends at the Hershey Lodge.
Since then each year, we’ve celebrated Charter Day in a variety of ways – both serious and light-hearted – including blue and gold cupcakes, special lunches, and discussions during Morning Meeting. This year is no different – on Friday, a very special guest will visit the Academy.
So, why isolate Charter Day as a special event?
Independent schools are keenly aware of their history. A school’s history is filled with many “touchstones” that underscore the unique culture and identity of a school. Granting of our charter over 200 years ago is an event that we want to be sure to recognize each year.
When John Harris, Jr. founded Harrisburg Academy 230 years ago, he had a vision that would empower young students in a new nation and provide them with an exceptional education. That vision has not altered despite the momentous changes that have occurred since 1784. We want to continue the dream of John Harris, Jr., our frontier founder; our goal is to provide today’s Academy students with an unparalleled opportunity for the future.
Join us today in celebrating the 205th anniversary of the chartering of our remarkable school and supporting the Academy in its future ventures.