School History

Grenaa Gymnasium has graduated students for over 60 years.

Grenaa Gymnasium's history

Much has changed since 1961, but the fundamental values have remained the same throughout: academic immersion, mutual respect, and reflection.

The same goes for our mission: to contribute to as many young people as possible pursuing a secondary education.

1961 Grenaa Gymnasium established by the municipality. Head of School Johannes Hoffmeyer

1965 The Boarding School established

1969 New upper-secondary education, HF, established at Grenaa Gymnasium

1970 County of Aarhus takes over Grenaa Gymnasium

1973 New wing doubling the area extent inaugurated.

1977 New Head of School Erling Christensen

1988 Major national upper-secondary school reform

1995 New Head of School Ole Fjord

2003 Grenaa Gymnasium accepted as an IB World School

2005 Major national upper-secondary school reform

2007 Grenaa Gymnasium becomes an independent state-owned institution. A board is established.

2014 New music and visual arts wing inaugurated

2015 The Boarding School is extended. 13 new rooms and enlarged shared facilities.
New Head of School Helene Bendorff Kristensen

When Grenaa Gymnasium opened its doors in 1961 with 65 lower-secondary and upper-secondary students and 6 teachers, it marked an innovation in the local area (Djursland).

The era of only a handful of young people from Djursland taking their high school diploma in Aarhus or Randers was over. From now on, they would take it in Grenaa, and their numbers would be much higher. In less than 10 years, by 1969, the number of students had grown to 380, and that year, 86 students graduated from Grenaa Gymnasium.

That same year marked the phasing out of lower-secondary education (realskolen) and the introduction of a new programme, HF (Higher Preparatory Examination), aimed at getting even more young people to pursue higher education.

During the first two decades of the gymnasium’s existence, the number of students consistently grew. After that, it fluctuated in line demography.

In recent years, an increased enrollment in the international IB Diploma programme has contributed to a stable overall student population, despite declining youth cohorts in the Djursland region.

Trailblaizers in the early years

From Grenaa Gymnasium’s earliest years, students have experienced coming to a school where they made friends from diverse backgrounds, and a significant portion of them come and still come from so-called ‘non-traditional gymnasium’ homes.

Most of us came from homes without a tradition of higher education. We were very much what we today call trailblazers. Therefore, we didn’t have many ideas about what it meant to attend a gymnasium. Perhaps the biggest difference was that we came from different school environments. Some of us came from smaller schools in the countryside, while others came from the ‘cities’ of Grenå and Ebeltoft. Back then, there was a greater difference in living conditions between the countryside and the cities than there is now.

Jytte Rauh, 50th anniversary celebrant in June 2014

Safe and friendly

A common theme in students’ experiences at Grenaa Gymnasium up to the present day is also that it is a school with a friendly and secure atmosphere, where it’s easy to make friends and there are no social barriers between year groups.

There are so many different types of people here that there is always someone you can connect with. You’re allowed to be different and find your own style…

Henriette and Lone, 1st year students in 1992

We have a shared canteen where all students sit and eat together… and by doing so, you form bonds with other students, not just your own class.

Jeanette, 2nd year student in 2013

Only a school life with many activities and engagements by students in connection with their academic education makes a gymnasium a true school.

Johs. Hoffmeyer, Principal of Grenaa Gymnasium 1961-1977.

Throughout the years, students and teachers have created a plethora of diverse activities at the school. The student association Olympos was formed already in 1961, and since then, musicals, spring exhibitions, sports tournaments, theme days, Operation One Day’s Work, the Global Group, and much more have been added, continuing to bring students and teachers together across classes, year groups, and programmes.

I feel that the students at GG were very engaged and ventured into many exciting things, whether it was belly dancing, school football, the school magazine, or the student council. Personally, I feel that the gymnasium allowed me to dare to do something, to take some leaps…

 Lasse Mønster, graduate of 2004.


Students at Grenaa Gymnasium have always had the opportunity to venture beyond the school’s walls on shorter or longer trips and to exchange with students and teachers from other countries.

In the 1960s, excursions were limited to destinations on Djursland, Randers, and Aarhus, and the exchanges were with the municipality’s Nordic and German sister cities.


In the 1970s, study trips also began to be organized. The Russian class traveled to Moscow or Leningrad, while other classes visited destinations like Helsinki, London, Paris, Budapest, and Prague. During the Cold War era, a study trip to one of the Eastern Bloc countries was mentally a much longer journey than measured in kilometers.

1980s and 1990s

In the 1980s, a long-lasting contact was established with a school in Poland, and in the 1990s, the expansion of international contacts became a focus for the school. This led to both extended exchange stays for individual students and dedicated exchange classes with annual exchange trips and visits.


In 2003, Grenaa Gymnasium became an IB World School, attracting students from many parts of the world to the school. It has become commonplace to hear students speaking English during breaks, and since most IB students live at the Boarding School, English has now become the main language there.


Grenaa Gymnasium’s global outlook led to membership in the Global Gymnasiums network in 2010, which has been a significant source of inspiration and motivation for well-functioning exchange cooperation, including with Nairobi Academy in Kenya.

In the same context, an STX Global Line emerged. Global Line students exchanged with Shanghai No.8 Senior High School.

1960s: A school for the few 

When Grenaa Gymnasium was established in 1961, upper-secondary programmes were still considered elite programmes

The City Council’s decision to establish a gymnasium in the town was in line with national politicians’ desire to utilize all intellectual reserves for the benefit of financing the welfare state.

In other words, no young individuals with academic potential should be hindered from developing this potential simply because they came from a non-gymnasium background.

From the 1970s: A school for the many

In 1969, HF (Higher Preparatory Examination) was introduced to encourage even more young people to pursue further education. During the 70s and 80s, Grenaa Gymnasium, like most other gymnasiums in the country, evolved into a gymnasium for the masses.

Special Programmes for the Talented

Against this backdrop, both regionally and nationally, there has been a growth in special programmes and courses for particularly talented and motivated students, who may not be sufficiently challenged when there is a significant gap between academically talented and academically weaker students, as is the case in many classes.

Moreover, there are still many students for whom a university remains something distant and unfamiliar.

In recent years, several of Grenaa Gymnasium’s most talented students have participated in initiatives like the Academy for Talented Youth.

Løvenholm College 1965-1978

Grenaa Gymnasium’s Boarding School traces its origins back to 1965 when it was established under the name Løvenholm College.

The funding came from the Løvenholm Foundation, which had been established in 1947 by the owner of Løvenholm Estate near Auning. He envisioned the main building of his estate transformed into a boarding school for boys, similar to Herlufsholm in Zealand.

However, it ended up with new buildings right across from the newly constructed Grenaa Gymnasium.

It quickly became evident that with the many new gymnasiums being built around the country during those years, it was quite challenging to attract enough students for the boarding school.

Grenaa Gymnasium’s Boarding Department 1978-2003

The first rescue attempt involved persuading the state to take over the operation and change the rule that the college was only for boys.

This was successful in 1978, and the name was changed to Grenaa Gymnasium’s Boarding Department.

But even this was not enough to fill all the rooms. Therefore, in 1980, Grenaa Gymnasium was allowed to establish a special HF (Higher Preparatory Examination) class for Greenlandic students. And from 1986, after Grenaa Gymnasium transitioned from municipal to county administration, students from Samsø also joined.

Grenaa Gymnasium’s Boarding School 2003 –

In 2003, it was time for another name change to “boarding school,” to have correspondence between the Danish and English terms. Grenaa Gymnasium had been approved as an IB World School, attracting many international students to the Boarding School.

Throughout the 2000s, as the IB year groups grew and boarding school life in general became more and more popular, the Boarding School reached its capacity. Therefore, in 2015, Grenaa Gymnasium’s board decided to expand the Boarding School by a total of around 500 m2, including 13 new rooms and improved and expanded communal facilities.

Read more about Grenaa Gymnasium’s Boarding School

Grenaa Gymnasium’s three main wings were designed by the architectural firm Gravers and Richter (later Kjær and Richter from 1971).

Each section reflects a distinct era. The ‘Old Wing’ from 1963, featuring the assembly hall, the solemn columned hall, and the Latin motto above the entrance, signifies elite education, which was the essence of a gymnasium in the early 1960s.

On the other hand, the ‘New Wing,’ built in 1973, opens up and provides space primarily for the students with its many centrally located common areas. The gymnasium had evolved into a broad-ranging educational offering, inclusive and democratic.

This trend continues in the most recent addition, the new Music and Visual Arts Wing from 2014. Equipped with state-of-the-art sound and visual equipment, as well as practice rooms for student groups, this wing meets the need for optimal creative environments.

While evolution of purpose and scope of upper-secondary education is reflected in the buildings, the architects have ensured a consistent design language with distinct accents in materials and colors that are repeated throughout, ensuring a cohesive aesthetic.

Read about the art at Grenaa Gymnasium here

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