Whitewood High School
| Quick Facts|
|Name: ||Whitewood High School|
|Color1: || Maroon |
|Color2: || White |
|School District: ||Buchanan County Public Schools|
|Year Opened: ||1941|
|Year Closed: ||2001||
Whitewood Alumni on Facebook
Whitewood Tribute Video
The unincorporated village of Whitewood, Virginia (pop. 485) is located along the banks of the Dismal River in Eastern Buchanan County. As the crow flies, it is only about 4 miles from the West Virginia border and about 12 miles from the Kentucky border. Between 1900 and 1910, Whitewood grew up around the lumber mills that had arrived to harvest the timber from the surrounding hills. It is thought that it received it's name from the whiteness of the lumber that was harvested from the area.
While Buchanan County has historically been the poorest county in Virginia, the people of the Whitewood area have always been hard-working. In the 1930's and 1940's, while the lumber industry was still booming, expansion of coal mining in the county brought in more people and more work. During that time, the population of the county nearly doubled to over 31,000 people. As the lumber companies moved away, the coal mines continued to expand. Today, Buchanan County is the top producer of coal in Virginia.
In the late 1920's, the state conducted a survey to determine the educational needs of the area. The survey showed Buchanan County was the home of 59 one-room schools, 21 two-room schools, 3 three-room schools, 2 four-room schools, and 1 six-room school. Due to the lack of high schools, very few children had the opportunity to pursue an education beyond seventh grade. In 1940, the federal government made money, materials and labor available through the Civilian Conservation Corps. (CCC) for the building of schools in underserved areas. Whitewood was chosen to be the home of one of the first high schools in Buchanan County.
Whitewood High School was built in 1940 along Rt. 638 in Whitewood at the confluence of Dismal Creek and Linn Camp Branch. When the school opened in 1941, students were transferred in from Jewell Valley, Florence Cole, Laurel Creek, Horn Mountain, Spruce Pine, Hale Creek, and "the Log Cabin School." In that first year, enrollment numbers were very low, with only three graduating seniors.
Whitewood High School was one of the first in the area to have dedicated space for a library and science laboratory, along with a separate home economics room, a principal's office and nine classrooms. As part of the design, the high school was also intended to be a community center. During WWII, the students conducted scrap iron drives and, during the Cold War, the school building was the local fallout shelter. The building was used by many clubs and community organizations, and was the site of political meetings, community gatherings and athletic events. The annual plays, put on by the senior class, were open to the public and were held every year in the original building between 1948 and 1988. Since the lives of coal miners and their families were hard, the plays were usually comedies, which brought some entertainment and relief to the local citizens. Also, the school newspaper, "The Smoke Signal," was very popular in the community as it was more than just a normal high school newspaper. It contained both school news and community news, including reports on the health of the ill and aged, poems, and words of encouragement.
|1947||A 3-classroom building was built off the northwest corner of the school.|
|1957||A two-story wing was added to the south end of the school. A cafeteria was added at the rear of the existing building. One of the original classrooms was adapted into an expanded library. Kindergarten and special education programs were instituted in some of the new spaces.|
|1967||Seven mobile buildings were added to the school campus to increase the overall size of the facility.|
|1970||The school was made up of 780 pupils, 38 faculty members, 6 teacher aides, an
assistant principal, a secretary, 5 cooks, and 5 janitors. The curriculum encompassed vocational training and a college preparatory program, as well as technical training.
In basketball, Whitewood played Rocky Gap in a game for the record books. Whitewood won the game 155-114. The 269 total points still stand as the Virginia state record for most total points in a single game, while Whitewood's 155 point outburst is the fourth most points ever scored by one team. That 1969-1970 team also still holds another state mark as the only team to ever score over 100 points 12 times during a season. The team was lead by scoring machine, Mark Robinson. In 1970 he set the Virginia state record for most points in a season. Since that time his total has been surpassed by the likes of NBA superstars Moses Malone and Allen Iverson, but his 833 points is still good enough for eighth on the all-time scoring list. And his 36.2 points per game is good enough for tenth on the all-time list (ahead of Moses Malone). His games of 74 points and 65 points are among the top 10 VA all time single game scoring records.
|1974||The Indians boy's basketball team made another run at the record for total points when they defeated Grundy 133-115. The 248 point total is still the third highest scoring game in state history.|
|1975||The school was divided into an elementary school, K-7th grades, and a high school, grades 8-12. The peak enrollment reached 350 high school students and 625 elementary school students.|
|1977||Buchanan County was the victim of severe flooding. The Whitewood school was one of four area schools receiving the most damage. The school was closed for cleanup operations and restoration.|
|1988||Whitewood High School moved into a new building 4 miles down Rt. 638 in Pilgrims Knob. The old Whitewood building became Whitewood Elementary School.|
|1995||The Whitewood and Hurley baseball teams played a 12-inning game that saw Whitewood pitcher Scotty Rife strike out 29 Hurley batters! Not only did that 29 strikeout performance set the state record for the most strikeouts EVER in a Virginia high school baseball game, the record still stands as the most strikeouts ever BY A TEAM! In that same game, the Hurley pitching staff was able to strike out 17 Indians. The 46 total strikeouts is also still the state record.|
|1998||Thomas Dye, former Whitewood principal, receives the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Virginia High School League. The VHSL Lifetime Achievement Award recognizes individuals for long-standing service of at least 15 years and exceptional dedication to the VHSL or its programs as administrators, athletic coaches or contributors.|
|2001||Garden High School, formerly of Oakwood, VA, consolidates with Whitewood High School to form Twin Valley High School. The new school, located in Whitewood High School's Pilgrims Knob building, chooses Panthers as their nickname and purple & black as their team colors.|
|2008||Plans were underway by private citizens to purchase and restore the original Whitewood school building, with the goal of turning it into a self-sustaining assisted living facility. In September, 2008, as part of that plan, the building was placed on the National Register of Historic Places, making it one of only two buildings in all of Buchanan County to be accepted by the Registry.
Then, in November, 2008, Buchanan County's Industrial Development Board agreed to sell the Whitewood school buildings and grounds to Consol Energy. Consol's plan was to demolish the buildings, clear the land of debris, including hazardous waste from the buildings, build a community center on the property, then donate it back to Buchanan County.
|2009||Consol Energy exercised their option to purchase the school in February.
The Appalachian College of Pharmacy, which is located in the former Garden High School building, constructed a new building on the GHS campus which is very similar to the original GHS building. ACP wanted their new building to match the old building wherever possible. Since Whitewood and Garden were both built by the CCC at about the same time, they shared some of the same construction materials. Consol Energy donated the bluestone stair treads from inside the former Whitewood High School (which exactly match the bluestone staircase in the old GHS building) to ACP to install in their new building.
|Apr/May 2010||Whitewood School and outlying buildings demolished. (video)|
*** Whitewood High School Web Links ***
There is an annual reunion for all Whitewood alumni each October. The reunion is held at Twin Valley High School. To find the date and time of this year's reunion, check the Reunions page at The Virginia Mountaineer.
Whitewood High School Alumni Apparel
Whitewood Alumni on Facebook
Whitewood Alumni on MySpace
Buchanan County on the 'Net
Buchanan County Historical Society on Facebook
The Virginia Mountaineer, Buchanan County's Family Newspaper Since 1922
Interview with Dr. Pamela Cole, PHD, Whitewood High School graduate
National Register of Historic Places - Whitewood school building application
Google Maps Street View
showing original Whitewood High School
(view interactive image)
If you can provide us with any additional information about Whitewood High School, please email us. We would love to share your information with other visitors to this page.
Our Whitewood High School Indians apparel would make a great gift. Or be the coolest person at the next reunion by wearing a Whitewood High School Alumni shirt or jacket.
If your Whitewood High School class has a reunion committee, please send them a link to this page and ask them to "get the word out".
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