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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.
‘Provisional employee’ Tederick will head Town’s ‘Business Retention-Expansion’ efforts
Front Royal is expanding outreach to meet the needs of its business community. “A strong recovery for existing businesses from COVID-associated losses is essential to our community,” says Town Manager Steven Hicks. “Improving the economic environment, as our town fully reopens, begins with our staff helping businesses navigate the many processes for full recovery and expansion.”
Matt Tederick, Business Development Project Manager, will lead the effort of connecting with businesses to understand and respond to needs in a timely manner. “We recognize that government/business process navigation can often be challenging for small and start-up businesses, where owners must first focus on product quality, workforce, and customer service,” explains Tederick. “We are going to fill the gap in assisting business owners to comply with state and local government regulations that can often be complicated and time-consuming, slowing business openings, expansions, and startups.”
The largest percentage of new jobs are created by existing businesses and new local startups, according to data provided by national economic development organizations. “Our businesses are a major source of jobs, tax revenues, and quality of life for Front Royal, so helping them grow and remain sustainable is a high priority,” says Steven Hicks. “Tederick has the experience, energy, and institutional knowledge to ensure businesses are successful. He understands how to facilitate and expedite government/business interactions, which is critical to growing the economy.” Hicks also says “The Town has new aggressive programs that will improve operations and provide predictability to citizens, developers, and businesses investing in Front Royal. This includes a new Comprehensive Plan and establishing a Building Codes and Environmental Division, programs that are essential for retention and growth.
Tederick was appointed and served as interim mayor of Front Royal for a short time in 2020. He also served on the Warren County Board of Supervisors from 1996-2000. During Tederick’s service to the County and Town, he always supported a pro-business environment. Matt can be contacted at email@example.com
Tederick is a part time provisional employee for Front Royal with a salary of $3,500 a month.
(Press release from the Town of Front Royal)
Portion of Route 624 (Happy Creek Road) in Warren County to close for road construction work this summer
A portion of Route 624 (Happy Creek Road) in Warren County will be closed to through traffic beginning Saturday, June 19. The road closure extends from the Town of Front Royal Eastern Corporate limits to Route 647 (Dismal Hollow Road). Access to residential and business properties in this area will be maintained during this closure.
The closure is expected to begin during the morning of June 19 with reopening planned for Friday, August 6. During the closure, crews will be performing road construction work including road widening, road alignment improvements, and drainage improvements.
Detour signs will be posted. Northbound traffic from Route 624 will take Leach Run Parkway to Route 55 (John Marshall Highway) to Route 647. Southbound traffic will take Route 647 to Route 55 to Leach Run Parkway to Route 624.
On April 1, 2021, a construction contract valued at $1,736,387.66 was awarded to Kickin’ Asphalt Paving and Excavating LLC of Strasburg, Virginia. The Route 624 contract provides safety improvements located from the Town of Front Royal Eastern Corporate limits to Route 645 (Manassas Run Road). Project completion is estimated for late 2021.
All work is weather permitting.
Traffic alerts and traveler information can be obtained by dialing 511. Traffic alerts and traveler information also are available at www.511Virginia.org.
The VDOT Customer Service Center can assist with reporting road hazards, asking transportation questions, or getting information related to Virginia’s roads. Call 800-FOR- ROAD (800-367-7623) or use its mobile-friendly website at my.vdot.virginia.gov. Agents are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
County’s June 10 Situation Report: COVID update and Happy Creek Road closing approaches
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:
COMMUNITY INFORMATION, 6-10-21, 1:42 p.m.:
COVID update, information & LINKS, June 10, 2021, 1:42 p.m.:
- COVID-19 Information (Current Data):
- 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).
- Note – Regional population fully vaccinated according to VDH site (avg 34.6%):
- Clarke – 44.6%
- Frederick – 36.4%
iii. Page – 31.6%
- Shenandoah – 36.8%
- Warren – 32.2%
- Winchester – 38.5%
- 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).
- Note: 46.7% of Virginia population fully vaccinated according to VDH site.
- 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.
- Current Executive Orders and Local Directives (not all inclusive):
- Local – Designation of Critical and Essential Employees during an Emergency Memorandum, effective May 7, 2020, until further notice
- Key Leader Public Messaging (CDC) – Take Prevention Measures:
- Vaccinated People:
- Prevention measures not needed
- Unvaccinated People:
- Wear a mask
- Stay 6 feet apart
iii. Wash your hands
- Valley Health – VDH Lord Fairfax Health District Vaccine Information (as of 6/1/2021)
- 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.
- 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.
- Executive Order 79 (2021) (Effective May 28, 2021):
- 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.
- 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
- 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
- CDC Update as of May 28, 2021. https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines/fully-vaccinated-guidance.html
- 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)
- Overallproject coordinator is Rick Farrall, Emergency Coordinator
- Warren County’s total allocation is $7,801,386
- An application was submitted to the Department of Treasury
iii. Details to follow
LONG-TERM (scheduled completion over 3-months)
- FEMA Emergency Protective Measures (Category B) Reimbursement (Deputy County Administrator)
- Warren County. Main lead is Taryn Logan, Planning Director
- All departments/staff send monthly expense update to Taryn NLT the last working day of each month
- Approximate County expenditure to date is approximately $510,000 (5/18/2021)
- Town of Front Royal. Main lead is B.J. Wilson, Finance Director
- Approximate Town expenditure to date is $70,000 (10/14/2020)
- Point of Distribution (POD) (Parks and Recreation)
- 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
- 2. Happy Creek Road Closure:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Please plan your travels accordingly.
Front Royal, Warren County included in Flash Flood Watch alert
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.
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.
Teacher Appreciation with the Rotary Club of Warren County – School year 2020/2021
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.
Blue Ridge Wildlife Center Patient of the Week: Blue Jay
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.
What you need to know:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.