Van Alstyne Superintendent David Brown welcomed a large crowd who gathered on a warm sunny morning in front of an empty lot next to at Van Alstyne Middle School on Aug. 10 for the Bob and Lola Sanford Elementary School groundbreaking ceremony.


“We really appreciate all the support that you, the community, offer the district in many ways,” Brown said. It is “a great day to be a Van Alstyne Panther.”


“Not often we get to start the new school year off with a new elementary school,” Brown spoke of the Sanford Elementary design, saying it is “going to be a beautiful building. It’s a great design, the team managed to combine functionality, safety, efficiency.”


Brown said the team achieved “a look and feel that really fits the community of Van Alstyne; it’s just an outstanding effort.” Brown said.


He spoke of the board’s vision and standards for future district expansion and improvement.


“Just as our existing campuses, the new elementary is going to continue our focus and efforts to demonstrate what it is to be a premier school district.” Brown, a 14-year resident of Van Alstyne said. The new Bob and Lola Sanford Elementary School “will play a big part in setting that stage for the future of Van Alstyne, for the school district and our ongoing effort to compete and be a premier district for our students and for our community.”


Bill Benton led the invocation for the event in front of the sizable group of the citizens, students and many other supporters who contributed to the process that took the new elementary school on the long road from a graphic design concept to bricks and beams.


“In everything that I have seen, the leadership, the board have looked at the situation and determined what is best for our kids and that has to be our bottom line,” school board President Randall Morgan said. The educators were a focus of Morgans speech as he spoke how the individuals who compose the district will make more of a difference than the building itself.


The educators were a focus of Morgan’s speech as he spoke of how the individuals who compose the district will make more of a difference than the building itself.


“The one constant will be the people we put in these buildings to teach because the buildings will come and go,” Morgan said. Morgan recognized the support of the parents of Van Alstyne’s students.


“Your parents value education and that is a very important key,” Morgan said, recognizing the new school’s namesakes in closing. “I cannot think of anyone more deserving to have a school named after them.”


City of Van Alstyne Mayor Larry Cooper addressed the crowd as he stood in front of the traditional groundbreaking symbol of a mound of earth surrounded by 12 golden shovels used by the speakers and those honored to christen the foundation of the new building.


Former VAISD Superintendent Charlie Williams Bob Sanford and Lola Sanford sat front row as a speakers honored their contribution and spoke of Van Alstyne’s school history and the district’s continuing legacy.


Bob Sanford, 90 has lived in southern Grayson County since 1983. While his business was in Dallas, he and his wife Lola, 89, say they chose to settle in Van Alstyne because they love the rural setting in the area between Van Alstyne and Gunter where they raise their horses. During his business career, Sanford was the president and CEO of Gilbert X-Ray, which sold and serviced medical imaging equipment. Sanford has been a generous supporter of many local organizations throughout North Texas. The Sanfords are members of the First Methodist Church of Van Alstyne. The Sanfords have funded many projects in Van Alstyne and the surrounding area including the Sanford Activity Center building. Bob is a board member of the Van Alstyne Education Foundation to support student scholarships and teacher grants.


Sanford stays busy these days serving the community regularly as chairman of the Van Alstyne Senior Center board. While on the board, Sanford leads the efforts to raise funds for the center and is actively involved in the Boy Scouts organization, serving on the board of the Circle 10 Council. Sanford funded a swimming pool for Scout Camp Ray Roberts, which they named the Sanford Aquatic Center in his honor. Sanford contributed significantly Van Alstyne Troop 44 for their troop hut and museum. Sanford is also a contributor to Grayson College, the Grayson College Foundation, and the South Grayson Scholarship Foundation. Sanford serves on the board of the Perkins School of Theology at Southern Methodist University as well as on the board of Concord Trust, a subsidiary of the Baptist Foundation of Texas. Sanford has been a major supporter of the Baylor and Presbyterian Hospital systems in North Texas, currently serving on the board of Baylor-McKinney. Presbyterian Dallas is home to another namesake of his, the Sanford Imaging Center.


For the many community members who have been working on this project over the past year this empty lot represents not only the newest institution of learning in the Van Alstyne Independent School District, it also represents a dream of a future for Van Alstyne schools that embraces and honors the past but still competes with present modern education standards. Construction progress and projected competition dates for Bob and Lola Sanford Elementary School will be available at district board meetings and digital updates will be available on the Van Alstyne Independent School District website.