posted April 12, 2010

CASA to Hold Open House at Graves Hall on April 22

The Children's After School Achievement (CASA) program at Hope College is holding an open house on Thursday, April 22, to celebrate both the recent restoration of Graves Hall and the children and tutors who are a part of CASA.

The event will take place from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. throughout Graves Hall, which opened in the fall after a year-long adaptive restoration.  The elementary children that CASA serves and their Hope-student tutors will be on-site from 4 p.m. to 5 p.m. to help guide visitors through the building and answer questions about CASA.  Brief overviews of the building's history and restoration will be presented by Dr. Elton Bruins at 4:30 p.m. and 5:15 p.m.

Both CASA and Upward Bound have their offices in the lower level of Graves Hall.  CASA's elementary-age students meet with their tutors after school in nearby Lubbers Hall, which was also recently renovated, in 2006, while Upward Bound hosts a variety of its activities with high school students in Graves Hall.

"Hope held a rededication celebration in the fall, but with two community programs housed in the building we wanted to offer an additional opportunity for the public to enjoy what the college has done with the restoration," said Fonda Green, who is executive director of CASA.  "We also want to showcase and celebrate the work that CASA has done for more than 20 years by providing an opportunity to talk with the kids and tutors and ask them about the program and what they do while they're here."

In addition to the CASA students and tutors, the event's hosts include community members Roger and Connie Brummel, and Robert and Deb Sterken, who have been long-time CASA supporters.  Connie Brummel was the program's executive director from 1994 until retiring in 1998.

CASA, a community organization housed at Hope, provides academic and cultural enrichment for at-risk first- through fifth-grade students. The program, which runs year-round, is intended to improve the students' academic performance by providing the tools they need to succeed in school.

The students meet after school twice per week in one-on-one sessions with volunteer tutors, most of whom are Hope students, throughout the school year, and in the mornings during a six-week summer session.  The academic-year and summer programs serve Holland and West Ottawa students.  A total of 123 elementary-age students are participating in CASA during the current school year.

CASA was established in 1987 by Marge Rivera Bermann and Latin Americans United for Progress (LAUP) and originally housed at First United Methodist Church. CASA moved to Hope College in 1989.

Dedicated in 1894, Graves Hall re-opened at the beginning of the school year in August after a year-long, $5.7 million, adaptive restoration that emphasized a return to the building's original character while updating the 19th-century landmark for use in the 21st.  In addition to the CASA and Upward Bound offices, the building houses five classrooms, Winants Auditorium, the "Presidents' Room" conference room and the Schoon Meditation Chapel.

Speaker Dr. Elton Bruins, who is former director of the college's A.C. Van Raalte Institute and the Evert J. and Hattie E. Blekkink Professor Emeritus of Religion at Hope, played a role in the restoration planning as a scholar of the building's history.

Graves Hall is located at 263 College Ave., between 10th and 12th streets.