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Front Royal, Warren County included in Flash Flood Watch alert

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Warren County Emergency Services has issued a release noting the inclusion of Warren County and the Town of Front Royal is a Flash Flood Watch issued by the National Weather Service-Baltimore MD/Washington D.C. at 3:03 AM EDT Fri Jun 11, 2021. Public alerted to possibility of more imminent Flash Flood Warnings if conditions persist through the day:

FLASH FLOOD WATCH IN EFFECT THROUGH THIS EVENING

The National Weather Service in Sterling Virginia has expanded the Flash Flood Watch (through this evening) to include portions of Virginia and West Virginia, including the following areas: in Virginia: Clarke, Eastern Loudoun, Fairfax, Frederick VA, Page, Shenandoah, Warren and Western Loudoun. In West Virginia, Berkeley, Eastern Grant, Eastern Mineral, Eastern Pendleton, Hampshire, Hardy, Jefferson, Western Grant, Western Mineral and Western Pendleton.

Additional showers and thunderstorms capable of producing heavy rainfall amounts of 2 to 4 additional inches are expected to re-develop early this morning and persist into this afternoon.


PRECAUTIONARY/PREPAREDNESS ACTIONS

A Flash Flood Watch means that conditions may develop that lead to Flash Flooding. Flash Flooding is a very dangerous situation. You should monitor later forecasts and be prepared to take action should Flash Flood Warnings be issued.

Involved Communities: VA: Shenandoah-Frederick Page-Warren-Clarke-Fairfax-Western Loudoun-Eastern Loudoun; W.VA: Hampshire-Berkeley-Jefferson-Hardy-Western Grant-Eastern Grant-Western Mineral-Eastern Mineral-Western Pendleton-Eastern Pendleton; including the cities and towns of Shepherdstown, Purcellville, Charles Town, Winchester, Herndon, Ruddle, Keyser, Martinsburg, Woodstock, Brandywine, Mount Storm, Bayard, Chantilly, Antioch, Luray, Centreville, Berryville, Sterling, New Market, Shenandoah, Ashburn, Moorefield, Mount Jackson, Front Royal, Leesburg, McLean, Russelldale, Riverton, Franklin, Fort Ashby, Elk Garden, Oak Flat, Reston, New Creek, Sugar Grove, Romney, Annandale, Headsville, Strasburg, Stanley, Franconia, Ridgeville, and Petersburg.

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County’s June 10 Situation Report: COVID update and Happy Creek Road closing approaches

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Warren County ranked next to last in percentage of the population being fully vaccinated in a June 10th County Emergency Management update related to COVID-19 statistics in the Lord Fairfax Health District (LFHD). According to the Virginia Department of Health (VDH) 32.2% of Warren’s population is fully vaccinated, which is just 2.4% below the average LFHD vaccination rate of 34.6%. Statewide in Virginia, VDH reported a 46.7% rate of fully vaccinated citizens.

Vaccination rates in the six-jurisdiction Northern Shenandoah Valley-based Lord Fairfax Health District were:

1/ Clarke County 44.6%;

2/ Winchester City 38.5%;


3/ Shenandoah County 36.8%;

4/ Frederick County 36.4%;

5/ Warren County 32.2%;

6/ Page County 31.6%.

Barring medically established physical reasons for not being vaccinated, citizens are being urged to take advantage of the increasing availability of FDA-approved vaccines as a preventative, not only from becoming symptomatic if exposed to COVID-19 Coronavirus strains but also as a preventative from passing the virus to others if exposed. As previously reported, relaxing CDC, State, and local social distancing and masking standards are aimed at an increasingly vaccinated population, with unvaccinated people urged to continue to social distance, mask, and wash their hands more regularly than normal as noted in the below report.

See above-cited and related information, as well as info on the June 19 closing of a portion of Happy Creek Road into early August, from June 10, 2021, County SITREP (Situation Report) below:

County Emergency Services Coordinator Rick Farrall briefed the county supervisors on June 8. That briefing focused on the dynamics of the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, referenced below, in which the County has applied for $7.8 million in relief funding to be distributed through 2026. Royal Examiner Photo by Roger Bianchini

 

COMMUNITY INFORMATION, 6-10-21, 1:42 p.m.

COVID update, information & LINKS, June 10, 2021, 1:42 p.m.:

  1. COVID-19 Information (Current Data):
  2. Lord Fairfax Health District:  As of today (per the VDH website), the number of total COVID-19 cases per locality are: Clarke 991, Frederick 8,084, Page 2,115, Shenandoah 4,328, Warren 3,064 (121 are/were hospitalized, 59 deaths attributed to the County; deaths 1.92% total cases), Winchester 2,937; the current status of these patients is unknown (admitted to hospital, discharged to home isolation/quarantine, departed the District/County).
  3. Note – Regional population fully vaccinated according to VDH site (avg 34.6%):
  4. Clarke – 44.6%
  5. Frederick – 36.4%

iii.      Page – 31.6%

  1. Shenandoah – 36.8%
  2. Warren – 32.2%
  3. Winchester – 38.5%

 

  1. Commonwealth: 7,521,258 people tested (PCR only); 677,425 total cases [2.0% positive rate (PCR only)]; 30,086 total hospitalized; 11,270 total deaths (1.66%total cases).
  2. Note:  46.7% of Virginia population fully vaccinated according to VDH site.
  3. United States:  As of June 9, 2021, there are 33,224,075 total cases and 595,625 total deaths (1.79%total cases) attributed to COVID-19.

 

Coronavirus-related information

  1. Current Executive Orders and Local Directives (not all inclusive):
  2. Local – Designation of Critical and Essential Employees during an Emergency Memorandum, effective May 7, 2020, until further notice

 

  1. Key Leader Public Messaging (CDC) – Take Prevention Measures:
  2. Vaccinated People:
  3. Prevention measures not needed
  4. Unvaccinated People:
  5. Wear a mask
  6. Stay 6 feet apart

iii.      Wash your hands

 

  1. Valley Health – VDH Lord Fairfax Health District Vaccine Information (as of 6/1/2021)

 

  1. STATEWIDE:  Get your shot and help others make a plan to get vaccinated. Getting a shot has never been easier—vaccines are readily available at many supermarket pharmacies, hospitals, doctor’s offices, local health department clinics, and state-run community vaccination centers. To find a vaccine provider near you, visit vaccinate.virginia.gov, call 877-VAX-IN-VA (877-829-4682), or text your ZIP code to GETVAX (428829). Call center representatives are available from 8 a.m. until 6 p.m., Monday through Saturday. All Virginia residents aged 12 and older are eligible to get vaccinated.
  2. LOCALLY:  VDH will offer a COVID-19 clinic every Wednesday in June (except 6/30) at the 15th St. Cafeteria in Front Royal; call 877-VAX-IN-VA or the Heath Department to schedule an appointment.

 

  1. Executive Order 79 (2021) (Effective May 28, 2021):
  2. EO-79 is in furtherance of Amended Executive Order 51 (2020).  Further, this Order terminates Seventh Amended Number Seventy-Two (2021) and Order of Public Health Emergency Nine, shall be effective midnight on May 28, 2021, and shall remain in full force and effect until amended or rescinded by further executive order.
  3. EO-79 (2021):  https://www.governor.virginia.gov/media/governorvirginiagov/executive-actions/EO-79-and-Order-of-Public-Health-Emergency-Ten-Ending-of-Commonsense-Public-Health-Restrictions-Due-to-Novel-Coronavirus-(COVID-19).pdf
  4. EO-51 (2020):  https://www.governor.virginia.gov/media/governorvirginiagov/executive-actions/EO-51-AMENDED-Declaration-of-a-State-of-Emergency-Due-to-Novel-Coronavirus-(COVID-19).pdf
  5. CDC Update as of May 28, 2021.  https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines/fully-vaccinated-guidance.html
  6. Updated Choosing Safer Activities infographic with new considerations for the example activity for outdoor gatherings with fully vaccinated and unvaccinated people.

 

American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (Emergency Coordinator) 

  1. Overallproject coordinator is Rick Farrall, Emergency Coordinator
  2. Warren County’s total allocation is $7,801,386
  3. An application was submitted to the Department of Treasury

iii.      Details to follow

 

LONG-TERM (scheduled completion over 3-months)

 

  1. FEMA Emergency Protective Measures (Category B) Reimbursement (Deputy County Administrator)
  2. Warren County.  Main lead is Taryn Logan, Planning Director
  3. All departments/staff send monthly expense update to Taryn NLT the last working day of each month
  4. Approximate County expenditure to date is approximately $510,000 (5/18/2021)
  5. Town of Front Royal.  Main lead is B.J. Wilson, Finance Director
  6. Approximate Town expenditure to date is $70,000 (10/14/2020)

 

  1. Point of Distribution (POD) (Parks and Recreation)
  2. POD established at the 15thSt. Gym/Cafeteria in coordination with VH/VDH for the mass distribution of critical medical supplies as required (COVID-19 vaccination).  Another term being circulated is “CVC” or Community Vaccination Center.

 

Coming traffic pattern change

 

  1. 2.       Happy Creek Road Closure:
  2. A portion of Happy Creek Road (Route 624) will close next Saturday, June 19, 2021 through approximately August 6, 2021.  VDOT’s (and Norfolk Southern) intent is to complete the reconstruction project before our public schools resume classes in August.
  3. The project will impact Happy Creek Road from the Town of Front Royal limit east to Dismal Hollow Road; it includes work on the railroad crossing site just prior to Dismal Hollow Road.
  4. Residents and First Responders will have local and emergency access to the areas west and east of the railroad crossing.  Once Norfolk Southern begins work on the crossing site, no vehicles will be able to pass from one side to the other until construction is complete.
  5. Please plan your travels accordingly.

 

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Teacher Appreciation with the Rotary Club of Warren County – School year 2020/2021

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Teachers who navigated this unique challenging year all deserve awards! The Rotary Club of Warren County decided to express a small token of appreciation by providing a yummy breakfast for the teachers and staff of our Warren County Public School system. Warm apple cider donuts from the Apple House, apples, granola bars, hot coffee and water were on the menu for the teachers to enjoy!

As a club, members enjoyed coming together to serve the community once again. Rotarian Krista Beahm delivered breakfast every morning during this project! She noted, “The teacher and staff appreciation was a success! This was a much deserved treat for the wonderful WCPS employees for all they have done this past school year.”

A note to the teachers:

Rotary believes education is a right. Our members across the globe unite to educate and uplift students through scholarships and service. The Rotary Club of Warren County wants to thank our teachers and staff for their dedication to our youth during this difficult year! THANK YOU FOR ALL YOU DO!!!  


Please watch this video to not only see the project in action, but to hear a few fun shout outs from teachers to the students, including a message from a Warren County Middle School Principal – Amy Gubler, Rotary Teacher of the Year – Luke Heater, and School Dean – Carolyn Sheppard.

Thank you to our sponsors:

  • Rotary Club of Warren County
  • Jean’s Jewelers
  • Melanie Hamel – Weichert Realtors
  • Jen Avery – Crum Realty, Inc.

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Blue Ridge Wildlife Center Patient of the Week: Blue Jay

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What is making these young birds sick?

This fledgling Blue Jay is one of dozens of sick birds we have admitted in the past couple of weeks with an unknown illness. This patient came in with its eyes swollen shut and showing discharge. Unfortunately, we don’t know what this illness is.

Photos courtesy of Blue Ridge Wildlife Center

What you need to know:

  1. Affected birds are most commonly blue jays, European starlings, and common grackle fledglings, though fledglings of other species have been seen in smaller numbers with similar signs. We have not yet seen this disease in adults.
  2. Affected birds most commonly appear like the blue jays pictured. Eyes are often shut, sometimes enlarged or showing discharge or reddening. Some affected birds have mild neurological signs (see the video below) while others are severely uncoordinated and stumbling or rolling. Birds may have neurological signs, eye issues, or both.
  3. Cases have been reported in our area and throughout northern Virginia, DC, Maryland, and many other states. We are working with multiple agencies searching for an answer. Until we know more our recommendation is to call the Center if you see a fledgling exhibiting signs.
  4. As we do not yet know if this is an environmental toxin or contagious disease, we strongly encourage you to wear gloves and a mask when containing these birds. We will recommend disposing of the container so don’t use anything you plan to keep. If you find a dead bird, please wear gloves and a mask and dispose of the bird in an outdoor trash can (ideally wrapped in a plastic bag) to avoid potentially exposing others to the disease.

This video shows the neurological signs in a young blue jay and grackle:

Unfortunately, this disease appears to have 100% mortality. We did attempt treatment early on in the outbreak (as did other facilities) none with any significant success.

Given the data we have accumulated between centers, the lack of any treatment success, and the lack of knowledge of what is causing these signs and if they are communicable to other animals/humans, all of these fledglings are being euthanized on intake. This limits their suffering and the risk to other patients/staff/volunteers.

We know that not everyone is understanding of this and will choose not to bring these animals in when there is no chance of success. It is worth noting that these birds die on their own, very unpleasantly, in 24-48 hours if left in the wild. Also, leaving them in the wild could potentially expose others to the disease. We do recommend safely containing and bringing them in for care AFTER you have discussed the case with our staff and we have all determined that this is likely such a case.

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Motorcycle riders urged to sign up for free motorcycle safety course

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Virginia State Police is once again offering its “Ride 2 Save Lives” motorcycle self-assessment course. The free motorcycle self-assessment course allows current riders the opportunity to learn and practice rider safety, how to handle hazards, special situations, interstate highways, curve negotiation, and much more. The course is conducted by Virginia State Police Motors Troopers in a safe environment.

“The sun is out, and the beautiful weather is calling Virginia’s motorcycling community to our highways,” said Colonel Gary T. Settle, Superintendent of Virginia State Police. “Rider safety is of the utmost importance, as riding a motorcycle is a unique experience with its own unique safety concerns. I encourage all Virginia riders to take advantage of this opportunity to learn from our professional motors troopers.”

All participants must have a valid operator’s license with a Class ‘M’ endorsement, appropriate riding attire, along helmet and eye protection. Motorcycles must be street legal and helmets must be DOT approved to participate in this program. The course will be held:

June 12 – Manassas – Northern Virginia Community College


July 10 – Harrisonburg – James Madison University

July 10 – Manassas – Northern Virginia Community College

A comprehensive listing of Ride 2 Save Lives courses can be found by visiting virginiastatepolice.eventbrite.com. Space is limited and advanced registration for these free courses is required.

 

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Local officials help Valley Health ‘cut the ribbon’ on new Warren Memorial Hospital complex

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County and Town officials gathered with Valley Health staff and administrators Tuesday morning, June 8, to cut the entranceway ribbon to the new Warren Memorial Hospital. And while patients will not begin to be admitted or moved from the current North Shenandoah Avenue hospital location until June 23, the ribbon cutting marking the start of the relocation was a landmark moment in the multi-million dollar, sometimes controversial – most prominently in the absence of a Maternity Unit – modernization of the community hospital.

Below, see Valley Health’s full June 8th press release on the event and its new facility off Leach Run Parkway just south of Warren County Middle School:

Looking north toward Happy Creek Road – Tuesday’s ribbon cutting was at the main entrance at the traffic circle in upper-right center of photo. Courtesy Photo Valley Health

‘Valley Health Warren Memorial Hospital Dedicates, Celebrates Its New Health-Inspiring Home’ – Staff Preparing for June 23 Hospital Opening



Front Royal, Va., June 8, 2021— Valley Health and community leaders gathered this morning to dedicate the nonprofit health system’s new $100-million Warren Memorial Hospital in Front Royal. The replacement facility will open in two weeks, at 6 a.m. on June 23, at 351 Valley Health Way.

The three-story hospital with adjoining medical building commands a 28-acre developed campus on a slope with stunning views of the Shenandoah Valley, offering a refreshing patient-centered environment for wellness and healing.

“This is an exciting day for Valley Health, but, more importantly, for residents of the Front Royal-Warren County area,” said Valley Health President and CEO Mark Nantz. “I commend the Valley Health Board of Trustees for their commitment to invest in this site and this remarkable, technologically-advanced facility, and I thank all who have supported our efforts to reach this point. We look forward to many more years of serving our community by improving health from this inspiring location.”

Just in case of bad weather or oppressive sunlight, a main and auxiliary tent were erected for the occasion. The hospital is to left of entrance; medical staff, administrative and other offices to right. Royal Examiner Photos by Roger Bianchini

The facility reflects 21st century priorities on patient privacy, greater patient and family involvement in healthcare, and convenient access to providers and outpatient services. The clean, uplifting design capitalizes on available light and outdoor views and features abundant parking and room to expand on the 150-acre site.

“We are grateful for this extraordinary opportunity to ‘take healthcare to new heights,’ said Warren Memorial Hospital President Floyd Heater. “While a new building and state-of-the-art equipment alone cannot guarantee excellent healthcare, I’m confident the form and function of this beautiful, calming space will support our phenomenal team and maximize outcomes and healing for all who come here for care.”

WMH President Floyd Heater opened the ceremonies, acknowledging the importance of state of the art medical services to a community, as well as the struggle with the COVID-19 Coronavirus pandemic over the past year-plus. Heater invoked a moment of silence for lost loved ones. As of June 8, 3,042 cases, 117 hospitalizations and 59 deaths had been attributed by the Va. Dept. of Health to COVID-19 in Warren County over the past 15 months.

The new hospital has 36 private inpatient rooms, each with a view, accommodations for a visitor, and bathroom with wheelchair-accessible shower. For more acutely ill patients, 12 Critical Care Step-down rooms will accommodate staff and equipment to monitor and support care. A well-equipped inpatient rehab gym will help expedite recovery through physical and occupational therapy.

The 18-bed Emergency Department is larger and more welcoming for EMS crews and waiting families. It has a decontamination area, two trauma rooms with space for equipment and multiple staff, rooms equipped for bariatric and behavioral health patients, a dedicated imaging suite, and adjoining 5-bed Clinical Decision Unit. A helipad expedites Medevac support for rapid emergency care.

Surgical Services boasts three spacious operating suites, two endoscopy rooms, a cardiac catheterization lab, larger pre- and post-op patient staging areas, and a dedicated family waiting room with a view.

All of the new hospital’s clinical support services – from the laboratory to cardiopulmonary rehabilitation to medical imaging — have space and equipment to better support patients and staff, improve efficiency and quality, and provide needed diagnostic and rehab services locally.

Circling the ribbon prior to the start of ceremonies Tuesday morning.

Robert Meltvedt, MD, WMH Vice President of Medical Affairs, has practiced general surgery in the community for 24 years and expressed the anticipation shared by many of his colleagues: “With beauty and light and a healing environment we welcome our new home to bring the best and latest innovations in health care to Warren County,” Dr. Meltvedt said.

“Wired” for Efficiency, Safety, Patient Experience

The new hospital incorporates technologies that support quality care, safety and efficiency, from an interdepartmental pneumatic tube network that delivers medications, specimens and documents, to a patient call system that alerts the appropriate team member’s portable phone. A new monitoring system sends a screen shot of patient vitals and key data to the nurse’s phone. And MyChart Bedside offers hospitalized patients access to a tablet and smart TV to facilitate sending and receiving messages with the care team, accessing test results and education materials, choosing meals, streaming favorite shows, playing games or listening to music.

Primary and Specialty Care Providers Next Door

The new Medical Building adjoining the hospital will be home to more than 50 healthcare providers, offering patients and providers convenient access to hospital services. Front Royal Family Practice will relocate to Level Three of the new building on June 25. Orthopedic staff will relocate June 26, and other Multispecialty Clinic providers — cardiology general surgery, pulmonary medicine, urology and vascular surgery – will occupy Level Two on July 16.

New Services

A new Physical Therapy & Sports Performance Department has certified staff and specialized equipment to help patients increase strength and mobility after surgery or injury, athletes gain a competitive edge, and anyone wanting to build stamina and improve conditioning, including “tactical athletes” needing conditioning for jobs in construction, firefighting, law enforcement or the military.

Valley Pharmacy has opened a retail location at the new hospital, located off the main lobby on Level 2. A “Meds-to-Beds” program offers the convenience of direct delivery of medications (and education) to patient’s hospital room before discharge. Staff and community members will also have access to the full-service pharmacy, over-the-counter medications and other products on weekdays from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., and Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Community Support

In addition to facilities and services to treat illness, injury and disease, the new hospital campus is intended to be a source of community health and wellness. Through the philanthropy of local residents Fred and Christine Andreae, a 2.5-mile hiking trail was created behind the hospital, offering a recreational destination with a view for patients, family members, staff members, and the community. The trail is suitable for all ages and ability levels, with an average grade of 7-8%, rest areas, and lower and upper overlooks of Front Royal, the Skyline Drive, and Signal Knob. Another ¼-mile spur connects to the neighboring Warren County Middle School.

Some of the County, Town, Valley Health and media personnel mingling prior to the approximate 10 a.m. start of ceremonies. – Want to go hike the property afterwards? Below, another perspective of the three-story hospital building

More than 150 donors have helped raise nearly $2.5 million to support features such as new beds ergonomically designed to increase comfort and safety, and MyChart Bedside, an innovation that will help patients and families stay informed.

Warren Memorial Hospital invites the community to tour the new facility at an open house on Saturday, June 12, between 11 a.m. – 3 p.m. Please reserve a tour time at valleyhealthlink.com/newwmh. Face coverings and social distancing will be required inside the building.

Warren Memorial Hospital’s Lynn Care Center, home to 120 long-term care residents and skilled nursing patients, will continue operating at 1000 North Shenandoah Avenue after the hospital relocates to the new campus. Valley Health is studying options for the vacated hospital, considering community needs and site feasibility.

About Valley Health Warren Memorial Hospital

Since 1951, Warren Memorial Hospital has served residents of Front Royal, Warren, and adjacent counties. In 1993, Warren Memorial affiliated with Valley Health System, a nonprofit network that has grown to include six hospitals, more than 60 medical practices and Urgent Care centers, outpatient rehabilitation and fitness, medical transport, long-term care, and home health. Valley Health serves a rural population of more than 500,000 in the Northern Shenandoah Valley of Virginia, the Eastern Panhandle and Potomac Highlands of West Virginia, and western Maryland. As a healthcare provider, employer, and community partner, Valley Health is committed to improving the health of the region. valleyhealthlink.com

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History of Stephens City’s early school days

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Byron C. Smith’s article, “Where is the Grave of Samuel Kercheval? And Other Matters Relating to the Life of the ‘Herodotus of the Valley,’” Winchester-Frederick County Historical Society Journal, (2015), makes known that Stephensburg Academy was the first formal school in Stephens City. The article informs that in December 1808, the Virginia General Assembly recognized Samuel Kercheval along with twelve other prominent men from the Stephensburg community as trustees of the Stephensburg Academy. When in September 1809, and again in December of the same year, Kercheval wrote as the Secretary and a Trustee of the Academy to Thomas Jefferson requesting money to support this new community school, Jefferson politely declined.

Students who attended Stephens City Academy private school at Captain Joseph Long Tavern are standing on the front steps of this building on Main and Locust Streets in 1899. Photos courtesy of Stone House Foundation.

Old Public Schools Report of Frederick County, VA, undated, compiled by James V. Hutton, Jr., cites the following; “prior to the establishment of public schools in Frederick County in 1870 pursuant to the act of the Virginia General Assembly of 1869-1870, there were many private, subscription and community Old Field schools.”

As early as 1846 a state law passed allowing Virginia counties the option of establishing “free” schools, however local voters opposed them in both 1847 and 1856. In the pre-war years and throughout the nineteenth century, many citizens preferred to minimize state involvement regarding the education of children. They believed education for all was not a function of government. Instead, they maintained such training came within the scope of the home as a family responsibility. On the family farm, parents needed their children for planting and harvesting crops, tending farm animals and a multitude of other survival chores.


In Thomas Kemp Cartmell’s book, Shenandoah Valley Pioneers and their Descendants, Chapter XXX, Educational Developments, published in 1909, Cartmell cites “When the Civil War closed, the changed conditions of the State, with her new Constitution, provided for a free school system through special taxation. We may endorse freely the principle, though we condemn much of the mismanagement, throughout the State; but in late years the subject has received more careful attention by our legislators; and rapid strides are now being made in this laudable work.”

The James V. Hutton, Jr. document cites, ”the first public schools placed in operation in 1870—1871 are not known. It is known that by the spring of 1871, the district school trustees of Stonewall, Gainesboro, Back Creek and Opequon (Shawnee had not been formed yet) established about seven free schools per district.”

Captain Joseph Long Tavern on right and McArtor store on left about 1880.

Most, if not all, were private schools converted to public use, primarily small one-room buildings, built with brick and later rusticated concrete block. The first three in the Opequon District nearest Stephens City were Canterburg, built in 1879 on Route 522 near Nineveh (conveyed by James H. Canter and wife), Painter Hill, built in 1886 on south side of Marlboro Road 2 miles west of Stephens City (conveyed by Lemuel Painter and wife) and Deerfield, built in 1888 on Marlboro Road, 4 miles west of Stephens City (conveyed by Harvey A. Richard).

During this time period, citizens of various communities had constructed many of these schools without tax monies from general county funds. Frequently land had been loaned by the owners with the understanding that it was to be used for educational purposes, reverting back to the owners if use was discontinued. Back then before busses and improved rural roads, the schools themselves had to be scattered out within walking distance of the students’ homes or they did not attend school. These community-based schools contributed to the small village cohesiveness and allowed students of farming families to travel to school by foot.

A Rosenwald elementary public school for African Americans in Stephens City was built on the northeast corner of Grove and Martin streets in 1921. The school was destroyed by arson on December 26, 1939. African American students then attended class at the St. John’s Baptist Church on the south end of Main Street until a replacement school was built at the same site in the early 1940s. Students who finished the seventh-grade then attended Douglas School in Winchester, built in 1927, which had upper grades (up to 11th grade by 1941) and was the only African American higher-grade school in Frederick County. The Douglas school closed after Winchester schools were integrated in 1966.

Stephens City Academy brochure for 1897-1898 school year.

According to the first annual Frederick County Public School Report, the average monthly teacher’s salary in 1871-1872 was $27.30. By 1885, the teacher’s salary had increased to $30.00 per month and in 1921 the monthly salary was $55.00.

An 1874 First Grade Teaching Certificate for the Commonwealth of Virginia required proven ability in the subjects of spelling, reading, writing, arithmetic, gramma and geography. The teacher would need to furnish satisfactory evidence of professional ability, zeal, experience and good morals and general fitness.

Byron C. Smith, Executive Director & Curator for the Newtown History Center, provided insight about local oral tradition. Tradition maintains there was a time in the late 1800s, through 1920 when children attended school buildings that served more than just students and teachers. In the rural Opequon School District which included Stephens City, churches and even private homes doubled as classrooms. One of the earlier buildings leased by the Stephens City Academy, was a brick house that once resided where the Methodist Church now stands on Main and Locust Streets. Known in the period as the old Captain Joseph Long Tavern, it was a brick Federal-style house built and licensed as a tavern in 1835. Like many hotel buildings at the time, it was used by local militia and magistrates and by town trustees for frequently scheduled meetings.

“The Joseph Long Tavern served as a private school from approximately the 1870s until 1913,” Smith said. This building was demolished to make way for the current Methodist Church which was completed in 1915. “Oral tradition also maintains that in the time between the demolition of the old Joseph Long Tavern School building in 1913 (to make way for the Methodist Church) and the opening of the Stephens City elementary/high school (5516 Main Street), students were spread out around town in different houses and buildings that leased space for classrooms,” Smith said.

One of them was at 5381 Main Street (Thornton McLeod wainwright building) where the upstairs room on the brick side of that house (warehouse space) was used as a classroom. Smith continues with local lore. “At one time there was an exterior stairway that ran up the south gable of the brick side of that house. At the top of that stairway was a door that opened into that room on the second floor. Today there are louvered shutters covering that doorway on the outside. This is the one known occurrence for buildings used as classroom space between 1913 and 1916. There could be others but we do not have any written or oral traditions about them.” It would not surprise Smith if the churches here in town served as temporary classroom space during that transition period between the demolition of the Long Tavern and the opening of the Stephens City School.

Vaucluse Train Station just south of Stephens City where both Claude and Harry Strickler attended school on the second floor in the early 1900s. A school house called High View was later built near Vaucluse in 1920. Photo courtesy Mark Gunderman.

At Vaucluse just a few miles south of Stephens City, a second-floor room of the train station functioned as a public-school classroom (approximately 1900 through 1920) for children of that neighborhood. Smith recalls a Sessions Oak Cased Drop Octagon “Schoolhouse” clock which was donated by a former Stone House Foundation board member, David Powers. Powers received the clock from the Claude Strickler estate. Powers informed Smith that both Claude and his bother Harry Strickler attended school on the second floor of that railroad station. Claude and Harry spent many afternoons watching and anxiously waiting for that clock to signal the end of the school day. Claude became a collector of railroad antiques and rescued the clock from the Vaucluse Station before it closed.

Compulsory school attendance laws were first passed in Massachusetts in 1852 and invariably spread to other sections of the country. Virginia passed its first compulsory school attendance laws in 1908. The first high school in Stephens City was built in 1916, however, children had to acquire their own transportation in order to attend. Since Frederick County was an agricultural area, many children completed their education, received their certificates at the end of 7th grade and went to work on the family farm.

During the early 20th century, the school was in session just seven months a year. Even so, attendance remained a serious problem; parent cooperation, integral to getting children to attend school, was less than robust. The state responded to the problem in 1922, when the General Assembly enacted legislation requiring student attendance and providing for the distribution of textbooks. Although mandatory attendance in Frederick County schools was not initially imposed, by the 1920s the idea of sending one’s child to school rather than to work not only was legislated and implemented but also was promoted and voluntarily accepted by increasing numbers in society.

The Later School Years

Kim Begnaud, a resident of Middletown explains how her families attending Frederick County Schools reflect their gradual evolution through the years. Her grandmother Mildred Luttrell Christian grew up in Shockeysville, Virginia and attended the Salem School (built in 1889) near Timber Ridge. The building closed in the 1930s. Her dad Jerry Christian was raised up on Cedar Creek Grade and attended Mt. Airy School until it closed in 1950, then finished up at Stephens City School. Kim lived on Perry Road and attended Stephens City Elementary until it closed in 1975, then moved on to Bass-Hoover Elementary, then Aylor Middle and James Wood High (both Amherst and Ridge Campuses), graduating in 1983. These days Stephens City students attend Sherando High School, opened in 1993.

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The Royal Front @ SVAXECO
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Axe Throwing Tournament to support the Army Rangers. A percentage of the proceeds from the event will go to the Army Rangers! Do you have what it take to be a ranger? Come try sticking[...]
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WARREN COALITION HOSTS FREE TRAUMA-INFORMED TRAINING The Warren Coalition, in partnership with Northwestern Prevention Collaborative, will offer a free, virtual Course 1 Trauma-Informed Training beginning on June 14th. This course is designed to provide information[...]
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Diamonds and Pearls Gala @ Holiday Inn & Suites
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Front Royal Cardinals Baseball Game @ Bing Crosby Stadium
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Meet the Beekeepers @ Sky Meadows State Park
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Historic Area. What’s that buzzing? Meet with local apiarists of the Beekeepers of Northern Shenandoah (BONS) and discover the art of Apiculture (a.k.a. Beekeeping). This monthly program series examines all aspects of beekeeping from hive[...]
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Summer At Sacred Heart @ Sacred Heart
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