In order to keep pace with the education development in the state of West Virginia, the Board of Education of Browns Creek District found it necessary to establish a district high school. After much consideration it was thought advisable to locate the school at Kimball. The High School was organized in 1914 in a small building having four classrooms and two instructors. The spot on which the building sat was one of the many scenic spots which made West Virginia a beautiful state. It was seen at a distance from three sides, being protected from the fourth by a towering mountain. It commanded an inspiring view of the valley below, mountain sides, and peaks at a distance.
In the beginning, Professor N. Wiley was the principal. He started the school in a rude weather boarded structure of two stories, and one large room on each floor. By the use of frail partitions these rooms had been made into four, two for recitation, one for manual arts and the other for home economics. There were three teachers assisting the principal and these four sought each day to inspire forty pupils to higher ideals. In this condition possibilities for expansion were at a minimum. However, the teachers were faithful and worked conscientiously toward their goal.
The school developed rapidly along all lines, although liited in building, equipment and teaching force, a very high class of work was done in English, Science, History, Language (Latin), Domestic Science and Art, and Manual Training, the later being done by the principal, for at no time during this formative period were there more than four teachers to give the work of a three year High School course.
The first graduating class came three years later in 1917 and from that time to the last graduating class in 1966 the numbers in the graduating classes had steadily increased. The inspirational Sprit was of such a quality as to give impetus to those taught and most of the early graduates had gone through college or Normal School and had succeeded in their chosen line of work. During the early years there was practically no athletic program. Music, debate and declamatory training were stressed to the extent that a number of students were fired with the ambition toward higher and more noble achievements.
There were no changes in the building space for almost eight years. Naturally there was little chance for rapid advancement. During this period, Professor F. Colemand and Professor E. A. James came in turn serving in the capacity as principal, thus departing these parts. However, the boys and girls proved they deserved further consideration and a fairer chance in the educational program of the country. There was gradual increase in the enrollment, the children remained in school longer, and the graduting classes likewise grew. The curriculum from time to time was changed for the good of the pupils and for a better rating of the school.
Professor R. C. Bruce became principal in the fall of 1921. School was opened again in the old frame building, but hope for more room and better things was high. The teaching staff was increased to six. The enrollment was still growing and the organization made to include the Junior High School. Late in the year, the new building was moved in to. This new home offered six rooms for recitation, two for laboratories, one each for home economics and manual arts, and all modern provisions as, indoor track, gym-auditorium, baths, etc. First class rating was enjoyed for the first time. This year marked the beginning of recognition of our school as a factor to be reconed with in matters of education.
The growing need of the school for additional space and facilities was realized in 1922 in a large building, modern in structure and equipment. The curriculum was also broadened to meet the increasing demands for a full four year high school course. Departments had been enlarged and courses enriched so as to include cultural as well as practical information, skill, and appreciations. About this same time the Junior High School unit was brought over to the Senior High School building with two additional teachers.
In the summer of 1922, Charles H. Smithey was authorized to remodel the old building at Kimball and make it into a dormitory/residence that was occupied by the principal of the all negro high school and his family, and by pupils and teachers of the school. Laboratories, shops, and domestic science rooms in the new building received part of their equipment. The school was growing with annual increases from the Tidewater Elementary School and the Keystone-Eckman and Dunbar Junior High School.
After serving as principal for two years, Professor R. C. Bruce gave up the ghost and the reigns fell to Professor E. W. Barrier. During this time, the school offered six well equipped laboratories and shops - Biology, Chemistry, Commerce, Home Economics including domestic science and art, Manual Arts, and Physics. The rapid growth during the two year period had gone beyond the walls of the building of only two years of service. A number of portable buildings were placed in this district by the authority of the board in 1922. The board purchased a portable structure of two rooms and assembled during the summer with two portable buildings in Welch being moved to other places as follows: two rooms to Davy, one room to Deegans, and one to Maitland. Two rooms had been ordered built at Davy, one at Deegans, one at Asco, and one at Vivian and Maitland. This made it possible to move sewing and manual arts out of the main building, giving a little more room and making working conditions a little more agreeable.
The student body numbered about 160 and the teaching force had grown from the principal and one assistant, to a faculty consisting of twelve members with nine of them as college graduates. The persons had been assembled from widely separated parts of the country, representing leading institutions of learning in the North, South, East and West, thus bringing to bear upon the life of the students influence of the higher types of training and accomplishments.
The growth and activities extended into other fields than those mentioned above. The athletic teams had almost covered the state and much of Virginia in the fostering of an extensive program. In the latter year, there was representation at the state declamatory contest which was pleasing with the showing even though the judges opinion kept the cup out of McDowell.
The only means of transportation for a long while was on foot, on horseback, or by an animal-drawn wagon. Those pupils who were eligible to attend high school went to the Brown's Creek District High School prior to 1917. Buses were bought for use when the modern district high school was completed in 1923.
The community was justly proud of the high school - the development of which had been so progressive and out-reaching.