In 1996, in response to growing scrutiny of public education in Michigan and throughout the nation, a group of local parents, business, civic and educational leaders determined that additional educational opportunities were needed in the Holland area.
The group organized and perfected their vision of a school more attuned to students' needs for the future and less hampered by internal bureaucracy. They sought a charter authorization from Grand Valley State University, and in July 1996 that charter was granted.
In response to a need identified by its founders, Black River Public School has created a college preparatory program now encompassing kindergarten through 12th grade students, providing an environment thriving on participation, responsiveness and experiential learning.
Black River's progress has been steady since 1996. Though operations began in the former Federal School building at East Eighth and Walnut, it was quickly apparent that this site would not accommodate the growth to which the school was committed.
In 1999 the BASF Corporation donated to Black River the historic 50,000 square foot Holland Furnace building on Columbia Avenue. Renovations retained its beautiful interior and brought the building back to life, and classes began there in 2000. That year we also proudly graduated our first senior class.
In 2001 we added a Montessori-style upper elementary program with the goal of further enhancing academic achievement.
In 2003 we were accredited by the American Academy for Liberal Education (AALE).
In 2004 we expanded our elementary to include 1st-3rd grades, and were accredited by the North Central Association.
Finally, in 2007 we completed our academic program with the addition of kindergarten. Our campus was expanded to include both a newly remodeled facility for kindergarten classes, and the construction of new 20,000 square foot facility housing a gymnasium, cafeteria and music facilities. The project included renovation of existing music rooms for additional instructional space for middle and high school grades.
In 2011 Black River was named the first K-12 School of Excellence in the State of Michigan, converting from a 6A to a 6E charter and signing a historic 13-year contract with Grand Valley University.
In 2014 the school undertook a $4.87 million capital campaign to raise funds for a four part capital project benefiting the entire student body. Improvements included a new 27,000 sf elementary facility (built during the summer of 2015), a building renovation for a new chemistry lab, supplemental gym/cafeteria space, and significant technology upgrades throughout campus. The project was completed successfully with the new buildings opening in the fall of 2015, growing enrollment to nearly 1,000 students in grades K-12.