1928 - Alderson High School - 1968

 

 

Alderson Schools
(Taken from the Indian Echoes VI)

Early Alderson schools were either private or church schools operated by the three denominations that serve Alderson today.  There were "field" schools in the outlying areas supported by the families who boarded the school master and paid his salary.

The first large private school in Alderson was supported by the Methodist Church.  Allegheny Collegiate Institute, better known as ACI, opened in 1888. (above) It was conceived by three local men, the Rev. J. H. Light, Methodist Pastor; E. Chase Bare, business man' and Frank Fallansbee, local druggist.  It was sold and resold several times by various ministers until the Methodist conference assumed control in 1902.  A military school was incorporated in 1912 and ACI employed some excellent teachers and its Christian education goals were high.  After 36 years the school closed in the spring of 1925. The buildings were sold and later used as a hospital.  Later the two buildings were use as dwellings, but only one stands today. (above, on the right) M. A. Pyles, who was principal of AHS for 9 years, was an alumni of ACI, as were many the residents of Alderson.

 

 

Alderson Academy (above) opened in 1901 by the careful guidance of Emma Cornelia Alderson, "Miss Emma", (see picture) and was supported by the local Baptist and members of the Alderson family. Letcher S. Shires, later a teacher and principal of AHS, once taught math and science at the Alderson Academy.  In 1911 it became the Alderson Baptist Academy under support of the W. Va. General Baptist Assoc.  (More on Alderson Academy from a 1904 report)

 

Fifty acres of land on the hill was bought and money raised for a new building which was completed in 1922 (above) The 1930 Depression forced it to combine with Broaddus College at Philippi and Alderson lost their Junior College. This beautiful building lay in ruin until it was bought by an independent Baptist group in 1953 and was operated as Mountain State Christian High School.

 

 

In 1907 an act was passed by the W. Va. legislature permitting the people of Alderson to establish a public high school.  There was to be an independent district with elementary schools, a high school, and an elected board of education consisting of 5 people. At that time  there were no public high schools in Monroe Co. and only two in Greenbrier. Construction on a brick building (above) was begun in 1909. The contractors were Holleran and Phelps for the brick work and Witt Bare for the finishing work.  The corner stone for this building (located on Virginia street) was laid by the Masonic Order on September 21, 1909.  It is estimated that this building cost about 15,000.

 

 

As early as 1918 the board was in favor of expanding the school plant. Lots were purchased from W. W. Stephens thus extending the grounds to Walnut Ave. Three lots above this street were bought from Mrs. Gilbert Miller and Miss Nina Longanacre.   In 1926 and 1927 other land was purchased to extend the athletic grounds and provide for another building. An option was secured from the owners of the Alderson Baptist Academy Square but a $20,000 bond issue was defeated and the High School was not located in this area. (Editor's note: Isn't that interesting? Our high school could have been located up on the hill, going toward Alta.) The last land purchase was made from W. R. Jones in 1948,   completing the school quadrangle.  In 1927 the board felt the old building was inadequate so a second bond issue was voted by the people to construct a junior-senior high school. Ground was broken for the new high school building in October, 1927, and the next year, the new Alderson High School building graduated the class of 1928.

The following is a list of "first" with Alderson Schools:

1. Athletics became a part of A.H.S. in 1910.
2. Music was added to the curriculum in 1924 with Mrs. Ossie Keadle as director.
3. The first basketball games were coached by the  boys themselves.
4. H. A. Yeager, principal, officially established football in 1926 and coached  the first teams.
5. Abe McLaughlin was the first paid coach and joined the facility in 1936. During his coaching years he had the highest winning percentage than any other coach in Greenbrier county.
6. McLaughlin also organized the Nine girls club to assists with athletics and this club continued to be a valuable part of the school.
7. The Aldersonian, the official school newspaper was first published in 1917 and continued until 1957, or 58.
8. The first school annual was published in 1940.
9. May Day began in 1928 and continued.
10. The PTA was first established on 9-24-1926 by Carl G. Eades and also continued.

From a movement that started in the 1950s most states decided to consolidate a lot of small town schools. One of the "touted" advantages was it would save money. Although it wasn't until the late 1960s, Greenbrier County built two new large schools called Greenbrier East and Greenbrier West.  Alderson lost it's high school and those students had to travel to Fairlea, W. Va. With no high school for parents to send their children, it is most certain the decision was made not to live in, or move to Alderson any more. The town's economy was damaged by this, as were small towns all over the U. S. Still standing, the building we all know as Alderson High School graduated it last class in 1968, just a short 40 years after it begun. There is much sadness in the fact that what we used to know and cherish, is no longer there.  However, there are fond memories of what we were a part of, and as long as there are a few of AHS graduates alive, a reunion of sorts is possible. "Hail, Hail, Hail to Alderson, The High School That We Love".

A related article on this by David Shields, is worth reading again.


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