THE GHOSTS OF CALHOUN HIGH - "It Was The Center Of The Universe"

(06/29/2017)

Alumni remember the old CCHS

INTRODUCTION: In 2016 the building still stands empty, roof leaking, windows out and plants growing on the roof. It has a fourth owner since its closing in 1998.

This weekend lots of old timers will pass by the structure on their way to the alumni reunion at the "new" school at Mt. Zion and reflect on their times in the old stone-cut building.

EMPTY BUT FOR THE MEMORIES

By Bob Weaver (2002)

Several thousand students walked between the twin towers of Calhoun County High School, before it was closed in 1998 - a history spanning 78 years.

Voices and ghosts came forth when we walked through its dark and musty corridors last fall, remembering our times there, both good and bad.

Plaster had fallen from the ceilings, windows had cracked, and vines had grown through the walls. It was a place of the past, empty but for memories.

Thousands passed through these portals between the towers

It was easy to recall my 84 classmates from 1958, sixteen who have now died, and the faces of the teachers and principals, their idiosyncrasies and their contributions.

My most treasured memory was the respect they gave me, and the opportunities to drift from the curriculum and embark on projects and adventures which could not be tolerated today.

Calhoun High was the center of the universe for most Calhoun kids before television came to the county in the 1950's and the ownership of cars to drive to more exciting activities. Today, there are dozens of handy diversions.

It was a time of connection between students, teachers and the structure itself.

While many of the public education's problems existed then, it was a flourishing institution that promoted education and personal growth.

In 1915 the voters passed a levy by a two-to-one margin to build Calhoun County High School. The project, because of World War I, ground was not broken until 1920.

The first seventy students entered the building in 1923, with the first graduating class in 1925, nineteen students strong.

Calhoun County had one of the first rural bus transportation systems, causing high school enrollment to explode. By the late 1930's over 600 students attended the institution, causing overcrowding.

Enrollment dropped during World War II and fire gutted the building on February 21, 1942, this after a controversy erupted over students refusing to say the Pledge of Allegiance. It re-opened about one year later.

A period of post-war growth continued in the aging structure, which has now been replaced by a splendid multi-million dollar facility at Mount Zion.

Old graduates of the stone-cut building return every year to an alumni reunion held at the new school, recalling school days and life changing events, times most precious to their lives. It was the last of the farming era, with extended families living nearby.

With the average American moving and changing jobs about every five years, the roots of origin and childhood are less connected.

Graduates of more recent years rarely attend the alumni reunion.

It is unlikely they will cling to the ghostly images and memories that draw the old-timers back to their "old home."

Here is our ghostly tour of the old building we took in 2002.

After fire gutted the building, sections remained like Roman ruins

Old water house and utility building

Building gutted by fire in 1942, old chimney reaches to the sky

Building facing Route 16

The football field changed little over the years

Grantsville across the Little Kanawha River

Gabled arch over rear entrance

Cartoon art on Driver's Ed building

New additions to stone structure, rear view

Upstairs classroom has oil-soaked floors

The sometimes controversial Calhoun Red Devil

Plaster falls from the ceiling where students took home economics

The old gym and auditorium, hundreds of basketball
games, "The Follies," plays, plus graduation ceremonies

Vines grow through the cafeteria walls - "the lunch room"

Outside view of gym and vo-tech buildings

... and a message posted by the last students using the building


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