It’s been a long time coming for Granger, who’s been at the school since the 1970s and, over that time, has had to paint the previous marker so many times he became intimately familiar with every contour and word of it.
He quickly realized that the marker’s text needed greater historical accuracy and, equally important, a state seal. The fact that it lacked the seal told Granger that it was a “homemade” effort by the school’s former administrators. So he set about exploring the school archives in order to gain official recognition for Penn Charter as a historical site.
And to fulfill a more personal mission — to tell the full story of Penn Charter’s many iterations over the years as it adapted to changing social realities (allowing access to women, non-Quaker religious groups, and minorities, for example) often ahead of the mainstream. It’s a story he believes is not very well known, especially when it comes to the school’s earliest years.
Seems funny that a 326 year old institution should need to validate its historical status, but Granger was thankful he had such a rich and detailed archive to tell the “official” story and see him through the demanding application process.
The records, detailing the succession of overseers and administrative changes to the school, date back to the early 1700s and, for Granger, are a tribute to the Quaker virtue of preservation. It’s a virtue Granger practices himself as the school’s historical preservationist (and Quaker).
Another virtue on display at the dedication was tolerance, which Councilman Curtis Jones espoused during his speech. He recounted turbulent times during the 70s when young people protested and agitated for social change. He remembered how the Quaker groups he met with at the time were different because “they didn’t tell, they listened.”
Ed Rendell also lauded the Quakers for their wisdom in recognizing that education was Pennsylvania’s most valuable natural resource.
The school’s choir “Quaker’s Dozen” added their voices to the event, capturing the giving spirit upon which PC was built.
As the driving force behind the marker project, Granger had the honor of unveiling it on a brilliant autumn day before a lively crowd of students, teachers, and community representatives. He smiled broadly as he looked up at the metal marker, a connection to the school’s past and a link to its future. Thankfully it’s a marker he won’t have to paint.