PETERSBURG – The Appomattox Regional Governor’s School in the heart of the Tri-Cities celebrated their historic building’s centennial during a special event late last month, reflecting on this storied history of the four-story school building.

The event, which was held in the 100-year-old building, had something for everyone, including those that attended PHS, present and former students of ARGS, and members of the community. Anyone that has ever traveled down West Washington Street can recall the regal old building with the huge rounded front steps.

“I am so glad this building was saved, and especially for it to continue as a school,” said James Stoneking, Social Science Department Chair, and Student Recruiter. “I’m always disappointed to see an old building rotting away or torn down. There is so much history lost when that happens.”  

The event kicked off with a reception that was held in the gymnasium. There was beautiful music that was provided by the ARGS Orchestra’s String elements. There was a large display of memorabilia from both PHS and ARGS, and a place for alumni to create an audio or video recording of their personal memories and recollections. 

There were several tours of the beautiful historic building. Dozens of “then and now” photos were on display for comparison to personal memories, and to see first-hand, just how much, and in some ways—how little, the historic building has changed over the last century.

The Petersburg High School Band gave a performance in the auditorium featuring the music of the sixties and seventies. The familiar tunes brought smiles to everyone’s faces. There was a whole lot of toe-tapping, finger-snapping, and hand-clapping going on! There can be no doubt that old school still rocks!

The ARGS Theatre and Dance Department performed a variety of 1918 to 2018 presentations of popular music, dance, and imagery, from pivotal times in PHS’s and ARGS’s history. Interposed throughout the performance, there were brief tales of specific recollections of the school’s history, memories, and folklore. 

“This event not only celebrated the history of PHS from 1918 to 1974, but it also put a spotlight on the nearly 20-years that the ARGS has been in existence (1999 to 2018),” said Stoneking. “Alumni from both PHS and ARGS can both claim ownership of this important event.”

Appomattox Regional Governor’s School was established in 1999. After much planning and many renovations, the old PHS was reopened as ARGS, and is now used in the education of advanced high school students, providing them with traditional academic courses and focused teachings in a number of disciplines, including technology, visual arts, and dance, among others. ARGS serves students from Prince George, Dinwiddie, Sussex, Surry, Chesterfield, the Tri-Cities and other communities throughout Central Virginia and Southside Virginia. For more information about the Appomattox Regional Governor’s School, visit them online at www.args.us.

This event was a joyous celebration for a beautiful old building that has been in use in Central Virginia for 100 years. Walking the hallowed corridors and hallways, one is in complete awe of the unique architecture, history, and design. It almost feels as if you stand very still, really listening intently, that you might just hear echoes, whispers, laughter, and hushed conversations from students that were here long ago, over the past century.

“In organizing this event, It has been interesting hearing various personal stories from the people connected to this building,” said Stoneking. “Even though they have had such divergent lives and experiences, which have changed them, they all still have this thread of commonality and community.”

By: Sherry Williams Kidd 
Copyright 2018 by Womack Publishing