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The HRA Difference

Mission & History

Hampton Roads Academy, an inclusive community of service and compassion, prepares students to excel intellectually, artistically, physically, and morally in higher education and in life.
Founded in 1959 with a student body of 60 students in grades seven through 11. Located in Newport News, Virginia, with easy access to families across the region, including Williamsburg and Gloucester, it was the first, and remains the only independent, nonsectarian secondary college-preparatory school on the Peninsula.

The idea was raised in 1958 by a group of parents who were familiar with independent schools in other communities. On February 13, 1959, the public was invited to an informational meeting at St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church in Newport News. A committee, meeting at the home of Mr. William H. Ferguson, Jr. in Newport News, decided to proceed with the school. Mrs. Pauline Trimpi, who would later become the first secretary of the Board of Trustees, consulted with her neighbor, the Newport News tax assessor, on trends in property development. Spreading out a map on her kitchen table, they predicted that a future central site on the Peninsula would be near the proposed Interstate 64 at Oyster Point. Within six months, a 72-acre parcel of land was purchased with the help of Mrs. Woodroof Hiden Hussey for $500 an acre, and the school was built. Dr. Russell Buxton was the first chairman of the Board of Trustees. The first headmaster was Mr. Robert Herzog, former assistant head at Norfolk Academy.

List of 15 items.

  • Initial Funding

    Initial funding consisted of $30,000 raised from patron subscriptions, and a $75,000 loan from First National Bank, which was guaranteed by trustees individually. Parents, trustees, and friends donated books for the library, trees for the landscape, coat racks, and boardwalks extending from the school building to the dirt parking area.
  • First Graduating Class

    On June 6, 1961, the first graduating class of six students received their diplomas, awarded by Congressman Tom Downing. The multipurpose room was built in 1962, along with three faculty houses on Academy Lane. A fourth faculty house was built in 1964.
  • Library Expansion

    The library was expanded in 1965, to accommodate 18,000 volumes, and the tennis courts were resurfaced the following year. Art, music, drama, and school newspaper were added.
  • Earning Accreditation

    The school earned accreditation by the Virginia Board of Education in 1971, and enrollment grew to 319 by 1972. The school rented space in the Jewish Community Center for physical education classes until the first gym, now known as the Joseph Carpenter Gym, was completed in 1973. Enrollment passed 400 in the fall of 1974, but then began to decrease. In 1973, financial gifts provided for completion of the library and three athletic fields. In 1974, the parking lot was paved for the first time. The Advancement Office was established in 1976, and an endowment fund was established in 1977. In 1979, a gift of $60,000 for the tennis courts was announced. By that year, enrollment had dropped to 343, and a commission was appointed to study ways to improve the school’s image and recruitment.
  • The Addition of Grade 6

    With the addition of grade six in 1979, a Middle School was established under the direction of Larry Cunningham. Enrollment reached 396 in 1980.
  • Silver Anniversary Campaign

    In 1980, Martz and Lundy were retained as fund raising consultants, and in June of 1981, the trustees established a goal of $750,000 for the Silver Anniversary Campaign. The parent’s association was established in fall of that year, and a business manager was hired. In May 1983, the campaign met its goal in gifts and pledges, and any excess was designated for the purchase of computers. Enrollment in September of 1983 stood at 414.
  • Establishing a Parent Volunteer Program

    In February of 1984, Nancy Davis established the school’s parent volunteer program; in March, the contractor of the $260,000 administration wing was selected; and in December, the Apple computer lab was equipped.
  • First Year of Grandparent's Day

    1985 was the first year of Grandparent’s Day, the Costa Rica exchange program, and the establishment of the Navigator Club. Also, in 1985, plans were made to build an auditorium, with the announcement of an anonymous gift of $250,000.
  • Building an Auditorium

    In 1987, the state announced plans to purchase HRA property to allow improvements to Oyster Point Road, and in 1989, the auditorium construction began with a campaign totally $1,018,000.
  • New Wing Campaign

    The trustees launched the New Wing campaign in 1990, and the $1 million state-of-the-arts and sciences wing was completed in time for the opening of the school year in September of 1992.
  • Planning for a Library and New Upper School

    Planning for a library and new Upper School began in 1995 under the “A Future Based on Excellence” campaign. Lights on the football field were installed that same year. The Phillips Commons and the library and classroom wing of the Upper School opened during the 1997-1998 school year. In the summer of 1998, the former library was converted into the Lecture Hall along with the addition of the adjacent kitchen and two music rooms. In 1999, the first Day of Caring was held.
  • Parking Lot Expansion

    The parking lot was expanded in 2003 followed by a track re-surfacing in 2004. The Charles R. Spencer, Jr. Gymnasium was dedicated in December. Three of the four faculty houses were demolished. The fourth house still stands and is the current home of The Advancement office.
  • HRCDS Taking over the Former Middle School

    In 2005, Hampton Roads Country Day School approached HRA about renting space on the campus for a newly-formed school consisting of grades PK-5. The 1959 Wing was renovated to accommodate the Middle School which allowed HRCDS to take over the former Middle School.
  • Bleachers and a Press Box

    Bleachers and a press box at the football field were put into service for the 2005-06 school year under a project driven by the Navigator Club and the Parents Association. Enrollment reaches a record high of 538 in 2006 – or 679 counting HRCDS. In 2008 HRCDS merged with HRA to become a PK-12 school. A new baseball field was constructed and opened in the spring of that same year. The old baseball field became home to the softball team.
  • The 50th Year of HRA

    The first day of school, August 28, 2009, kicked off the 50th year of HRA.

Hampton Roads Academy

HRA is accredited through the Virginia Association of Independent Schools, a member of the National Association of Independent Schools and is a National Blue Ribbon School.