Memories of Campbelltown School

In 1969, the State Fire Marshal condemned Marlinton Elementary School. The students were sent to Campbelltown School, the basement of the Marlinton Methodist Church and mobile trailers.
Campbelltown School was reopened after being closed for years. Ms. Carrie Morrison was called out of retirement. Mrs. Morrison taught first grade. Mrs. Ruby Carpenter taught second grade, Mrs. Brenda “Cookie” Doss was the teacher aide.
The following letter was written to “Cookie” in 2011.
Dr. Layton H. “Tony” Beverage shared his memories of that year and the influence it had on his life.
As a new school year begins, the message of this letter is timely.
Published In Memory of
Dr. Layton H. “Tony” Beverage
March 30, 1962 – September 1, 2014
April 8, 2011
Dear Mrs. Doss (Cookie):
I have thought a lot about seeing you at the reception at the church after Viola’s funeral a few weeks ago. Talking with you and seeing so many others from home brought back a lot of great memories about Marlinton.
I have been away from West Virginia for almost 30 years, but my heart has never left Pocahontas County and the state that I love!
A day doesn’t go by that I don’t share my memories about where I’m from and how I grew up.
Working with students each day, I can’t describe how many don’t have the basic support systems in place that I simply took for granted growing up in Marlinton.
We all were truly blessed to have family and friends that sincerely cared about us.
As we briefly discussed, my year at Campbelltown School was one of the most memorable ones of my childhood. Where else could you walk outside to get a drink of water, eat all that you wanted as long as you cleaned up your plate, and warm your mittens on a coal stove?
Other people my age never had the opportunity to have such memories, given the times we grew up in.
The 1969-70 school year was wonderful, and I’ve shared memories of that year with the thousands of students I’ve encountered in my 24 years in education. They have enjoyed the stories of those days as much as I enjoyed living them.
However, I don’t believe that they can really appreciate how hard you, Ms. Morrison and Mrs. Carpenter worked to make that time so special for us. Students in this day and age can’t really understand what it is like to experience such things.
 I wouldn’t trade that year for anything in the world!
Talking with you brought back a lot of memories for me, and before I left Marlinton I went down to the schoolyard just to sit and remember. These are a few of the things I remember about Campbelltown School:
·         The skunk that crawled under the building, and then we got to go outside to have class on the swings.
·         The beauty of the mountainside above Campbelltown when the snow and ice were on the pine trees that lined the hillside, looking out of the windows in Mrs. Carpenter’s class.
·         Jumping up and down on the cast iron water fountain in the morning during the winter while the ladies from the cafeteria poured hot water down the tap.
·         The occasional trip to the top of the hill to visit the “facilities”  – the outhouse.
·         My mittens catching on fire after an eventful snowball fight when I laid them on the stove and they burst into flame during spelling.
·         Allen McKinney bringing a bale counter to school, and the two of us talking about making hay.
·         Mrs. Carpenter and her stern, but loving, way of teaching us.
·         Getting spanked for throwing a pickled egg in the cafeteria after I accidently hit her son in the eye.
·         Driving from the bottom of Price Hill to the school with the horn on my dad’s truck stuck. I had made the mistake of honking the horn without permission, and the horn stuck.
·         Building snow forts during recess.
·         Tearing those same forts down, especially the first graders’ fort.
I could list many more, but the one thing that I haven’t mentioned is you.
You made that a very special year for us. You went out of your way to be our teacher, aide, assistant, playmate, disciplinarian, helper, and most important, our friend. You did things to make each one of us feel special and important. When I tell students and teachers about my year there, they often shudder and can’t imagine going to a school without “indoor plumbing.”
They couldn’t be more wrong.
We never missed a beat at Campbelltown, because one doesn’t miss what they’ve never had. The people who worked at Campbelltown made that year so special, and to this very day it stands out in my mind. We may have been there because they closed Marlinton Elementary, but it worked out in our favor, because it gave us memories we otherwise would never have experienced. I actually got to attend the same school that my dad attended when he was a small boy!
I’ve been a school administrator in one way or another for over 17 years. I’ve worked with elementary, middle, and, now, high school students. I’ve worked in the county where “The Waltons” television show originated. I have actually held Earl Hamner’s (John Boy’s) school file in my hand. He was a 1940 graduate of Schuler High School in Nelson County.
I’ve been blessed in many ways, and been recognized and honored by others for my small role in making others successful.
Most recently I was named as the “Outstanding High School Principal” by the University of Virginia’s Curry School of Education. I have earned a doctorate in Educational Administration from the University of Virginia, A Master’s in Educational Leadership and Administration from the College of William and Mary, and a Bachelor’s degree from Fairmont State College.
I don’t mention these things to brag. I mention them simply to say that without the education, experiences and love I got at Campbelltown, none of these things would have happened!
Finally, I want to thank you and all others who worked as aides and para-professionals to assist students in countless ways during your time with Pocahontas County Schools. The important role you, my mom, and countless others played in providing the proper foundation for student success can never be overstated.
Your work had a huge impact on the success of thousands of students, and I hope that you know how much it is appreciated!
As a principal of 2,000 students, with a staff of over 200 adults, I have always had a soft spot in my heart for the work that our para-pros do. Without people like you, who work so hard for so very little, I wouldn’t be where I’m at. Neither would countless others. I may manage a building that is over five and a half acres under roof, but some of the best times of my life were spent with you and others in a two-room schoolhouse.
Cookie, I hope that you continue to enjoy life, and simply wanted you to know how much I cherish the memories of Campbelltown School and my Pocahontas County roots.
Thanks for all that you did to make my life special.
Take care,
Dr. Layton H. Beverage, Principal
Gloucester High School

more recommended stories