West Yadkin School opened up on October 9, 1935 in Hamptonville, North Carolina. What a great heritage this school and the many dedicated teachers and principals left the community and the many students who were educated there in the 32 years West Yadkin was a high school from 1935 to 1967.
Much of the credit for the school being built should go to the tireless effort of Mr. W. N. Ireland, who was determined that we would get our fully accredited school. Mr. Ireland lobbied for a school bond of $140,000 in 1934. This bond along with a federal grant got the work started on our new school. West Yadkin School replaced the old one room schools at Bell, Branon, Cave Hole, Evans, Flint Hill, Knobs, Fairview, Haynes, Hamptonville, Longtown, Oak Grove, Shiloh, Shore and Windsors Cross Roads.
Mr. Ireland, a former teacher at Yadkinville High School, was the first principal of the new school and he also taught. There were 816 students the first year. The initial school building had 16 classrooms, the auditorium, the library and the office for the principal. It was built on a 10 acre tract of land bought from the Martin family estate.
First year teachers at West Yadkin were Mr. Ireland, Miss Orpha Newlin, Mrs. Geneva Clarke and Mr. W. A. Hunt in the high school. Elementary teachers were Lucy Parks, Elva Shermer Hoots, Sallie Thomasson, Erie Miller, Collie Hinson, Flossie Joyner Reavis, Mary Weaver Allred, Mary Melton, Gertrude Todd, Madolin Johnson Bell, Homer Gabard, Homer Wagoner, Harrison Nicks, Toler Haynes and Margaret Gough.
Once Mr. Ireland found out that there were no funds provided for equipping the library and Science laboratory, the school faculty under the leadership of Mr. Ireland undertook to raise $1,000 to equip these departments.
The hard work and total dedication of the first year teachers and Mr. Ireland set a standard of excellence that would be followed for the 32 years to come. The first graduating class was in 1936 with nine graduates. One of the original graduates, Mary Groce Davis, is the lone remaining member of that class. Mary will be 94 years old this year.
Mr. Ireland was principal for the first ten years, and Mr. C. C. Wright was principal for the last 21 years that West Yadkin was a high school. These two men truly helped shape West Yadkin School.
Before West Yadkin School was built, the few students who went on to high school had to ride the school bus to Yadkinville. The new school at West Yadkin would help encourage more students to continue their education into high school.
In the 1936-37 school year, a new gymnasium was built. The first West Yadkin basketball teams were formed. The first baseball team was formed. The first West Yadkin School newspaper, the Hillside Views, was published in February 1937.
The West Yadkin School district was the largest one in Yadkin County. It went south to Iredell County, west to Wilkes County, north to the Jonesville School district, east to the Boonville and Yadkinville School districts. West Yadkin was a farm community with most families raising tobacco as the sole cash crop. Prior to West Yadkin School, most students didn’t go to school past the sixth or seventh grade as they quit school to work full time on the farm.
Even when West Yadkin School was opened, many students had to miss school to work in tobacco. School opening was usually delayed until September to allow most of the tobacco to be harvested. Many times school would start with half days to help the farmers.
The West Yadkin community from day one has always been a big supporter of West Yadkin School, both education and the sports programs. Some of the highlights of West Yadkin sports accomplishments are the 1946 girls basketball team, which won the prestigious Winston Salem Journal-Sentinel tournament, the 1954 and 1955 boys basketball team which won back-to-back Yadkin County tournaments, and the 1960 baseball team which was runner-up in the state.
My, what great memories were made at West Yadkin High School in those 32 years! We were blessed to have the best school, teachers and principals possible. Some of my greatest heroes taught at good old West Yadkin School.
Joe Brown, a 1959 graduate of West Yadkin High School, can be reached at Haystackpress.com. He has published 25 books, including three books on West Yadkin School and also a series of books about his American Dream.