By Nancy Schaar
July 1, 2014
|The former Sherrodsville High School, most recently used as an elementary school, will be sold at public auction July 23 as directed by the Conotton Valley Board of Education.
The village of Sherrodsville will lose a portion of its identity when the old school building is sold at public auction later this month.
Most residents agree when the local school is closed villages and small towns never seem quite the same. Sporting events, school programs, graduations, community dinners, and many other events are typically held in community schools. Once that is gone, the community connection is lost for many residents.
Many residents in the small village of Sherrodsville are feeling that loss.
The 95-year old building that sits atop a hill overlooking the village was closed as an elementary school at the end of the 2012-2013 school year. Students were shuffled to Bowerston and some of those from Bowerston were relocated to the high school along with preschool students.
The school sat vacant for the entire 2013-14 school year while school officials pondered its future. During a special meeting May 29, the Conotton Valley Board of Education voted unanimously to close the chapter on the school and to sell the building at public action.
Don R. Wallick Auctions of Strasburg will conduct the sale July 23.
Conotton Valley Superintendent Adam Pittis said future plans include closing Bowerston elementary in the very near future and adding additional classrooms at the site of Conotton Valley High School to house all students preschool through 12th grade. Pittis hopes the move will be made in early 2015.
Pittis said many decisions still need to be made regarding what property will be sold during the July auction. He said it has not been determined what the board will do with the modular building at the Sherrodsville site. Pittis also said there are many items stored in the school building and they will have to decide what to sell and what to keep that may still be of use.
Old electronics in the building such as phone systems will be sold to another company which has expressed interest.
“Key employees went through the building months ago and pulled historical pieces and items to guarantee their safe keeping,” said Pittis.
The old class composite photos have been removed and hung in the hallways at the high school with other class portraits of graduating classes of Conotton Valley.
Pittis hopes a business will purchase the former school building and bring back tax dollars to the district and community.
Composite photos from the school show graduating classes from 1932, 1936, 1937, 1939, 1940, 1941, 1942, 1943, 1944, 1945, 1946, 1947, and 1950.
The classes rarely had more than ten students in a graduating class.
Life long resident and 1964 Conotton Valley graduate Bill Wilkin of Sherrodsville said he has early memories of the old school on the hill.
“I remember when I was in second grade, that would have been 1952, they didn’t have room for our class in the school building and we had our class in the basement of the old Lutheran church,” said Wilkin. That former church building now houses the administration offices for the district.
Wilkin said the school custodian would bring them a container of fresh water in the morning and one again at lunch. That was all the water they had for the day.
“I remember we were so excited when the high school kids moved to the newly constructed Conotton Valley High School in May of 1952. We got to move up to the school building and had our own room. It was really something. We were so happy about it!” said Wilkin.
Wilkin remembers that was the first class to attend the new high school building on Cumberland Road but that there was a Conotton Valley graduating class of 1951 but they didn’t get to attend school at the new building because it wasn’t finished yet.
Wilkin said the building was originally constructed in the 1920’s and the addition was probably added in 1961 when they added on the junior high wing at the Conotton Valley building.
Class of 1947 graduate Donna Moughiman Anderson of Sherrodsville said she attended all 12 years of school at the Sherrodsville building.
“We had five rooms upstairs and one room downstairs. We could eat lunch in our classrooms or in the home ec room. We had the gymnasium then too. It was under the high school rooms,” said Anderson.
Anderson, now 84, said her oldest brother graduated from Leesville but the rest of her eight siblings all attended and graduated from Sherrodsville.
“We had a playground with swings, a slide; we played softball and baseball. We had one teacher in grade school but changed classrooms and had different teachers when we were in high school,” continued Anderson.
Anderson said her older sister, Thelma Whitehair of Sherrodsville, had all seven of her children graduate from Sherrodsville and then Conotton Valley.
Anderson and her siblings were concerned the old class photos would be destroyed or lost and wanted to buy her class year photo. She was relieved when she learned they had already been moved to the Conotton Valley high school building.
Irvin “Bud” Newell of Sherrodsville, has fond members of the school as well.
“I graduated in 1947 with a class of only seven. We had a lot of good times and really good teachers. You sure learned a lot from them and they had a lot of time to spend with you. It was sure different than now,” said Newell.
“Our team in 1937 was state runner ups in basketball. That was something,” continued Newell.
Newell said he understands the changes and the need to sell the school, but he hopes it can be used for another purpose. Newell noted the former New Harrisburg School was sold and it has been converted into nice apartments.
Wallick has experience with this type of auction. His firm sold Wooster Highway School in Dover, the contents of the Strasburg elementary and high school buildings, and other such auctions.
He plans to meet with school officials and prepare an inventory. Final plans will then be made for the July 23 sale.