About Us: History of Our Mountain Education

In our mountain's colonial history, the population was a bit more scarce than what we see today. During the outbreak of the Civil War, the area was mainly rugged and roads hard to travel. The first free mountain school seems to have been built during these turbulent times. Mannings School was built in 1857. The school still stands off Route 9 on a dirt road directly across from the entrance to Mission Road.

 School
Mannings School (Photo taken from Shannondale.org)

Sometime around 1923-28, the Board rented Mount Mission School to replace Manning School. It originally housed grades 1-8 before grades above the fourth grade were sent to Charles Town Graded School in 1934. That left so few students attending Mount Mission School that it was closed the following year.


Mount Mission School (photo from Shannondale.Org)

In that following year of 1935-36, third and fourth grade were also transferred to Charles Town Graded School and the first primary school, our forerunner, opened to educate first and second grade in a local home not far from Mount Mission referred to as the Manning School once again. It remained in service till the opening of Blue Ridge Elementary in 1939.


Manning (Primary) School (Photo from Shannondale.org)

Three other schools of these older days were united into Blue Ridge Elementary in 1939. One was the Silver Grove School, built prior to 1889, still stands in Pipertown on Hostler Road. It was a one room school that housed grades 1-8.


Silver Grove School (Photo from Shannondale.org)

The Chestnut School was also located on Hostler Road, built 1899, and still stands. It too housed grades 1-8 and was only a one room school.


Chestnut School (Photo from Shannondale.Org)

Further back off Mission Road in the area of Mount Mission Park, Fairmont School opened in 1876. It ran until the opening of Blue Ridge Elementary. Another school even further back in the mountains was Pine Grove School, but little is know about the school except that it consolidated with Fairmont School in 1934.


Farmount School ca 1922 (Photo from Shannondale.org)

(More stories about these schools can be found at http://www.shannondale.org/forum/content.php?199-Schools-Blue-Ridge-Reminiscenes)

Blue Ridge Elementary School opened its doors in 1939 to students in grades 1-8. At the time, it was called the Mt. Mission Graded School. Dorothy Conklyn was the principal when it opened. In 1940,

the Board of Education voted to change the name to Blue Ridge Graded School.

The original building was constructed on the 3.5 acre parcel of land purchased from the Thomas Ott family in 1938. In 1974, an adjoining 29 acres were purchased from the Elwood Dillow family for approximately $35,000. Since its opening, additions in 1957, 1969, 1976 (part of the $1.5 million bond levy passed by the voters of Jefferson County on February 14, 1974) and 1991 (part of the $18 million bond levy passed by the voters of Jefferson County on February 11, 1989) have increased the size of the building from 6,750 sq. ft. to 49,155 square feet

Kindergarten was added in 1972. With the conversion of junior highschools to middle schools in 2002, this school began serving students in grades K-5.

In 2011, Blue Ridge Primary opened to accommodate Preschool, Kindergarten, and 1st Grade. The school still has students with some of the old mountain names still in attendance, but it also has names of the many new citizens that have discovered our mountain gem and have relocated here. In 2014-15, Blue Ridge Primary qualified for free meals. In 2015-2016, it qualified for Title 1. Needs are still being met by our community school, and our personnel is very proud to be apart of it.

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