Samuel Boyd Gravenall, who held an impressive scholastic and sporting resume, took proprietary of New College and immediately set about improving and modernising it.
These efforts probably influenced the surge in enrolments during Gravenall’s term – at the end of 1919 the roll stood at 58 students and by the end of 1920 it had risen to 90.
In 1921 and concerned that prospective pupils could be directed to the newly-opened nearby state school, he changed the school’s name back to Box Hill Grammar School.
By the end of that year financial troubles were looming and local residents were alarmed to read in the The Box Hill Reporter that the school was to be auctioned. Then three weeks later another public announcement was made that it was continuing.
There was much public and private conjecture about why the school came so perilously close to shutting its doors. There were aspersions about Gravenall’s character, the company he kept and his inability to be financially prudent.
In the meantime, a band of concerned citizens rallied support and made ‘arrangements’ to ensure Box Hill Grammar School’s survival.
With Gravenall’s reputation in tatters, he left the school to work as a newspaper reporter in West Australia before returning to teach in England.
He collapsed and died during a school football game in 1945.