It may seem trivial to some in the area, but Grand Blanc just celebrated one amazing milestone. The Perry Center turned 100 on January 9th, and along with that, Grand Blanc High School celebrated its beginning.

It's hard to believe the largest school district in Genesee County, with an estimated 8300+ students, graduated their very first class in 1922 with just three students. It was one hundred years ago that it all started when the Grand Blanc Township Unit School opened to students for the first time and welcomed all of the 350 students in Grand Blanc together in one building. The move made Perry the first consolidated school in the state of Michigan.

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The First Graduating Class of Grand Blanc High School

It may not have been a big class, but it was the first class, and it only had three students. In June of 1922, the first GBHS graduates were Ethel (Tyler) Vandawaker, Ernest Somers, and Berneda (Taylor) Bennett. In true Bobcat form, they went on to do great things.

According to the Grand Blanc High School Alumni Association,  Ethel went on to attend the Genesee County Normal School and Michigan State Normal College in Ypsilanti, earning a teaching certificate and becoming the first alumnus in GBHS history to return to Grand Blanc to teach. Berneda attended Flint Business College after graduating and she remained local to the area, living most of her life in Fenton.

Ernest received degrees from the Michigan State Normal College and the Detroit College of Law and practiced law in Flint. If the name seems familiar, it may be due to the fact he served multiple terms as mayor of the City of Grand Blanc, and he eventually was elected a circuit court judge in Fenton.

Photo: Courtesy of the GBHS Alumni Association
Photo: Courtesy of the GBHS Alumni Association


The Perry Center  has seen many changes throughout the years with renovations and remodeling, but the history has stayed intact. I attended middle school there before the move was made to build the high school West Campus, and eventually the East & West Middle School buildings. Through the years, the building has been considered one of the "markers" of Grand Blanc's story, and history should be celebrated!

To honor the big 100-year milestone, the Perry Centennial Committee is planning a large public celebration in Spring, 2022 with a grand opening of the Perry Centennial Pavilion and Gardens. Go Bobcats!


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