The New Commerce
By Staff Writer
Charles A Grandson was born and raised in Washington, D.C. “The city reminds me a lot of Springfield, the neighborhood was not the safest but I knew the right thing to do,” says Mr. Grandson.
He is the baby of his family, with one bother and three sisters. He attended Amidon Elementary School and Frances High School, both public schools in D.C. In his district and school, high school started at 10th grade. He also attended Gonzaga College High, which was a Catholic school. Grandson furthered his education at Boston College, receiving his BA in history and a Master’s in Education.
Unlike many students today, Mr. Grandson enjoyed going to school. “The things that interested me the most are the clubs and activities,” Mr. Grandson said. In 8th and 9th grade he took on many responsibilities, including presiding over both student government and the foreign language club.
He was a very active young man. He played basketball and football. “That’s when my eyes opened up to leadership,” says Grandson. “I don’t think I was a hard person to get along with but my friends thought I was always serious, but that’s just how my face looked.”
He looked up to many positive older people. “I had great mentors in elementary school and throughout high school who were lawyers. I was always the kid who liked to spend a lot of time with adults because I liked to learn from them,” he says. For him, peer pressure was not a problem. “I’ve always marched to the beat of my own drums, so it was difficult to follow peer pressure.”
Mr. Grandson started working at 12 years-old. “I enjoyed working as a clerk at D.C. General Hospital.” The best job that he ever had was working as a youth investigator for the Department of Health. His job was to go into stores and try to purchase cigarettes at the age of 16. If they sold the cigarettes to him the store would get a ticket. “This allowed me to do something for the community while making money,” he stated.
One of his major life experiences was being a student activist at Boston College; there he organized a lot of protests on campus. The purpose of that was to challenge the university to treat people of color better. He mentored young men and women through the debate team and cheerleading. He met President Clinton when he was elected youth Mayor. “I think what ties them all together is that it made me realize my duty to serve people and an importance of carrying the torch that was passed on to the next generation of leaders,” Mr. Grandson said.
He considers himself to be a leader and a follower. “Every leader must follow and every follower must lead,” Grandson believes. He believes that if everyone in the school acted as if they were a leader in some small way, then things could improve faster.
“Struggling to pay for school taught me a lot about taking responsibility for my own well-being.” He had some bad life experiences, but he learned from them and acted in a positive way.
Mr. Grandson has high expectations and many goals for The High School of Commerce. “My intentions are for it to be viewed as the #1 high school in Springfield. And beyond that, for it to get national recognition for the IB program. I expect everyone to step it up and to do something different than they’ve done in the past.”
He sees lots of potential in Commerce students and believes that success is possible. That’s why he chose to take the job here at Commerce. “I think all the right ingredients for a successful school are present, it’s a matter of aligning things in the right direction.”
Mr. Grandson also has a well-developed plan of action to make this school a better place, which will help each individual realize their potential. “It’s sort of like that Michael Jackson song ‘Man in the Mirror’. If everyone thought that way about things to change, it will change the way they think, it will change their actions.”
Principal Grandson is determined to take the negative views that people have on Commerce and turn them into positive views. “I think it gets a lot of negative attention. It’s up to us and everyone to be a sales person to talk about all the good things at Commerce. We can’t do it unless we change our own mindset.”
Our new principal is a very determined person with a stable mindset. He has no second thoughts about taking this job here at Commerce. “When I make up my mind about something I am pretty determined.”
What he believes needs improvement is consistency. He is encouraging students and teachers to stick to the changes they make and wants, everyone to believe that, “what happens from bell to bell is sacred.”
In his short stay here at Commerce, Grandson stated, “I do see a growth in the halls. They are now cleared. Students are wearing uniforms, attendance is up and teachers and students have the courage to imagine a difference in Commerce.” Mr. Grandson truly believes that this school can be successful. We are the new Commerce!