History - Lunenburg County Public Schools
The Lunenburg County Public School System is pleased to be able to offer LUNENBURG'S PUBLIC EDUCATION HISTORY FROM 1870 - 1970, written and posted here in installments by Mrs. Shirley Robertson Lee. We will post a new installment during each 9 week grading period. These installments will continue through the summer as well. We hope you will enjoy this historical account, and we thank Mrs. Lee for helping us with this unique project. More information about our author, Shirley Robertson Lee.
BUILDING A SYSTEM OF PUBLIC EDUCATION
In the early 1920s Lunenburg County continued to support and build a system of public education following the resignation of Superintendent Isham T. Wilkerson in the spring of 1919. By the fall, A. B. “Ben” Wilson had been appointed the third school superintendent in the county. He and his family resided in Victoria, Virginia. There is little information about Wilson and his educational background. Superintendent Wilson may be called a ‘visionary’ and ‘catalyst for change’ because he demonstrated noteworthy efforts to change the public education landscape for children although the practice of segregated schools existed. New initiatives in public education would take place such as the implementation of the County Unit Act; state funding for school transportation; creation of the “five-point” child health program; increased school terms; and the donation of Rosenwald funding for rural schools and buildings.
In 1922, the General Assembly passed what is known as the County Unit Act. Prior to this time, Virginia had operated school boards on a district basis. This act made the county the unit of administration rather than each district operating independently. School buildings in each district became the property of the county under one authority; and the School Board would be comprised of a representative from each magisterial district. The County Unit Act also appeared to give impetus to the support of state funding for school transportation.
The first organized school-based health program was also initiated in the early 1920s by George Luther Walker, principal at the Kenbridge High School. Walker created the “five-point” health program for school-age children to target five areas—teeth, weight, vision, hearing, and throat. This program was proven to be one of the best means of preventing and correcting bodily defects. Walker received statewide notoriety for this program and it is believed to have been adopted by the Virginia State Board of Health.
Superintendent Wilson and high school principals—George L. Walker, Kenbridge High; J. M. Tignor, Victoria High; and J.F. Kennedy, Lochleven High—co-edited the Lunenburg School Life newsletters with the School Board’s approval. The cost of the newsletter was twenty cents per subscription. Wilson was concerned that eight months of school was not enough time for a proper education. In the newsletter (1922) Wilson wrote, “We must admit, however, that Nottoway, our neighbor, is getting ahead of us in raising standards of schools, and in longer terms. The slogan is ‘nine-months term for every boy and girl, whether in town or country.’ If we care to give all children their due we, too, must give them all nine-months term, and thus standardize our work.” Wilson also urged the school supervisors and teachers to submit school-related articles to be printed. There was a section provided for information about the education of black children under the heading: THIS SPACE RESERVED FOR COLORED SCHOOLS OF LUNENBURG COUNTY.
In 1923, the second newsletter was printed. Lucy H. Morrison provided a written report of the status of Negro schools. She wrote, “Our league work has been splendid this year, the patrons have rallied right along especially in Kenbridge, where they have raised $45 each month for the teachers’ salaries, and other leagues are doing similar work.
The West End School, constructed in the in the early 1920s, was recognized as a Rosenwald School because of the generous monies donated to assist with its construction. “This is a splendid building! I wish every person in the county could see it,” Morrison said.
The teachers at the West End School included Estella Reavis, Gertrude B. Carrington, Catheryn Tisdale, B. L. Turner, Irene B. Ashburne, A. A. Kent, Jeanette Whitehead and Betty Bryant. West End closed in the early 1950s.
The third newsletter was printed in 1924 with Superintendent Wilson and three high school principals—George L. Walker, Kenbridge; Hal J. Meredith, Victoria; and C. L. Parker, a representative from Lochleven as co-editors.
In the space reserved for colored schools of Lunenburg County, the article—Bird’s Eye View of the Victoria Colored School was included. It was written by Pearl M. Bagley and E. Pearl Evans—two teachers from the Lunenburg Training School. An excerpt follows: “During the last few years the children have been struggling through many disadvantages from the standpoint of school buildings. In the last one or two years, providence opened its arms of fortune unto us and enabled the people to erect a nice, two-room building near town (Victoria, Virginia). Fortune is smiling upon us and is now at the verge of giving to us and the future generation, the advantages of having a County Training School—something for which the entire county of Lunenburg has been suffering.” Lucille C. Overby, principal at the Kenbridge Graded School, submitted an article—”Early American Orators”—that was also printed in reserved section.
The Lunenburg School Life newsletters were the second major school publications available county-wide. A copy of each newsletter is archived at the Ripberger Public Library in Kenbridge, Virginia.
Selected sources: A History of Public Education in Virginia, (Richmond: 2003), Virginia Department of Education; Lunenburg School Life Newsletters (October-November 1922, March 1923, February 1924), archived at the Ripberger Public Library in Kenbridge, Virginia; Oscar Wood. Development of Education for Negroes in Lunenburg County, Virginia 1870-1952, Virginia State College, Petersburg, Virginia,1953; 1935 photo of West End School courtesy of Johnston Memorial Library, Special Collections and University Archives-Archie G. Richardson Papers, Virginia State University; 1924 photo of Lunenburg County Training High School courtesy of Mildred H. Jenkins; Virginia Daily Attendance Register and Monthly Grade Record (1921-1950).
Installment 6 Febuary 2018 - Building a System of Public Education
Installment 5 April 2017 - Jeanes Supervisors of Lunenburg County Schools
Installment 4 April 2016 -
A New Century Dawns
Installment 3 April 2016 -
Education Awakening (cont.)
Installment 2 Dec 2015 - Education Awakening
Installment 1 Sep 2015 -
Lunenburg High School Recognized with Historical Highway Marker
On Friday, September 4, 2015 a highway marker was unveiled recognizing the location of the Lunenburg Training School and Lunenburg High School. The Virginia Department of Historic Resources approved and the Virginia Department of Transportation placed the marker there at the site. Lunenburg Training School was established in 1920 for African Americans because they did not have educational facilities at that time. This school later became Lunenburg High School. This marker became a reality through the appropriations of the graduates and friends of Lunenburg High School and the Alumni Committee, headed by Reginald S. Davis, President of the Lunenburg High School Alumni Association.
To commemorate this occasion, a program was held at The Peoples Community Center at 10:00 a.m. The Honorable Constance T. O’Bryant, Retired Federal Administrative Law Judge, Class of 1964, gave a moving speech. “The Lunenburg Training School and Lunenburg High School brought hope to a hopeless people and was a bridge from a place of despair to a place of hope.” She also went on to say that because of the education she received there, she was able to test out of quite a few of her courses at Howard University.
Many residents, alumni, state, and local officials attended the celebration, and the group road Lunenburg County School buses to the marker site. At the site, the marker was unveiled by Reginald S. Davis. Mr. Davis was assisted by the following, Mrs. Annie H. Holmes, Class of ’39; Mrs. Laura C. Sanford, Class of ’39, Mrs. Elloise Callahan, Class of ’41 and Charter Member of the Lunenburg High School Alumni Association; Mrs. Bernice S. Charlton, Class of ’42; Mr. James Craddox, Class of ’54; and Mr. Cecil A.W. Andrews, Class of ’69. The group traveled back to the People’s Community Center for a wonderful reception, where many memories were shared and some delicious food was enjoyed.
Lunenburg County is located in the beautiful countryside of South Central Virginia, historic Lunenburg County meets all with a warm, friendly welcome.
Family and community are central to the everyday lifestyle in Lunenburg County. Our purpose is to develop and maintain a society where we can enjoy our families, employment and retirement. Lunenburg County strives to provide a peaceful, safe atmosphere with plenty of family-friendly activities.
Our County works together to offer business and employment opportunities, friendly service from local citizens in area businesses and various recreational attractions.
We have an accredited school system, youth sports, two municipal parks, community events, low tax rates, beautiful countryside, quaint communities and friendly people.
Whether you want to make Lunenburg your home, locate your business here, or spend some time visiting, you'll be glad you came!
Information from Lunenburg County Va.