Skip to main content
Quick Links
We put students first, seek growth, are open to change, do great work together and value differences.
2512 George Mason Drive • P.O. Box 6038 Virginia Beach, Virginia 23456-0038   757.263.1000 • 757.263.1240 TDD

Historical Overview

Closed/Former Schools & Centers

Aragona Elementary
Opening Date:  1957
First Principal:
Interesting Facts:  

OVERVIEW
The school was established in 1957 and began classes on a half-day basis in Thalia Elementary School. In February 1958, when construction of the present building was completed, the faculty and students in grades one through eight, with their principal, Lee Land, moved into the permanent building. From its beginning a periodic gradual change of elimination of the highest grade has taken place; therefore, since the 1967-68 school term, grade five has been the senior level in the building. The changes of grades were necessary due to the enrollment increases at the various grade levels, especially the lower grades.

 The Primary Disabled Reading Program was transferred to the Aragona School in September 1972. Students enrolled in the special program are transported from the complete geographic area of the City of Virginia Beach. Kindergarten was the latest addition to the school curriculum and became an important part of the school in September 1973.



Career Development Center (CDC)
Opening Date:  1979
First Principal:
Interesting Facts:  

OVERVIEW
Career Development Center (CDC) opened in the 1979-1980 school year as a vocational training center. The cost of the original building and land was $1,600,000 with renovation and conversion of the 128,000 square foot former G.E.X. building costing $3,028,980.08. Credit for making the CDC project a reality was a result of Superintendent Dr. E.E. Brickell and his staff, John McCage, staff architect; William Moosha, principal for the school; John Curtin, program development specialist; and Dr. John Sutherland, special assistant for program development.

The Career Development Center (CDC) was renamed in 1996 as the Virginia Beach Central Academy. At this time, the program focused on at-risk students in grades 9-12, offering students diverse academic programs.



Center for Effective Learning (CEL)
Opening Date:
1969
First Principal:
Interesting Facts:
 In August 2007, the center moved from the original campus to the former campus of Kemps Landing Magnet which is located on the corner of Kempsville and Princess Anne Road.

OVERVIEW
Center for Effective Learning (CEL) opened in September 1969, with three major goals. The first was to develop individualized programs for students with certain kinds of problems. With highly specialized, concentrated curricula, these students would be able to “catch up,” and return to their neighborhood schools. The second was to provide facilities for diagnosing learning problems and prescribing appropriate programs for pupils throughout the Virginia Beach City Public Schools. The third was to serve as a model in developing and refining programs and teaching techniques. The school opened with an enrollment of 226 students – 44 of these students were five-year olds, invited from the adjacent area to form the initial class of a Non-graded Primary.

The goal of the program was to help "At-Risk" students successfully function in a school setting through academic success and appropriate center social behaviors. CEL focused on three areas: instruction, intervention, and behaviors. In the area of instruction, a strong emphasis was placed on the acceleration of basic skills proficiencies in order to strengthen academic skills. Intervention concentration was on students' social skills and greater involvement in center life and community projects. Counseling focused on responsibility, improvement in attendance, student behavior patterns, and career awareness.

Today, the center no longer exists. In September 2009, CEL and Virginia Beach Central Academy combined services into what is now known as the Renaissance Academy.



Charity Neck School (re-named Pleasant Ridge School)
Opening Date: 
First Principal:
Interesting Facts:  

OVERVIEW
The building was constructed in the 1880s on Charity Neck Road as a two-room school for white children. It ended its service as a one-room school (Pleasant Ridge School) for blacks located on the east side of Princess Anne Road in Southern Pungo and next to Asbury United Methodist Church. The school closed around 1915 when a larger Charity school was built (1916) for white children. The opening of the larger school consolidated the children who had been attending the one-room schools scattered about the countryside. This larger school closed in the early 40s when Creeds School opened.



Courthouse Elementary
Opening Date: 
First Principal:
Interesting Facts:


OVERVIEW
One room schools at Tabernacle, Sandbridge, Shipps Corner (now Holland Road) and Beech Grove (now West Neck Road) were consolidated into a two story wooden structure that was placed beside the one room school (Hickory Bridge Elementary) on the Courthouse Elementary site. Several classrooms were on each floor of the building, with the small auditorium upstairs. The building was heated by a central boiler system. On a morning in March 1931, it is thought that the janitor tried to ignite the fire with kerosene, and the boiler exploded, burning the original wooden Courthouse Elementary School to the ground, according to Ms. Lillie Belle Woodhouse (who taught at the school from 1931-1972). Everyone in the area at the time remembers the event vividly, especially Ms. Woodhouse, who lived across the road, and whose father attempted to assist with the fire.

During the period when the original brick school was being constructed, the students attended school in two rooms on the first floor of the old Courthouse building. Also, it is possible, that some classes were held in the Masonic Lodge Building, which was on the Courthouse grounds. According to Ms. Lillie Belle Woodhouse , the new school was completed by Thanksgiving in 1931. The building cost $35,000, and it is noteworthy that a new elementary school in 1960 costed approximately $8 million dollars.

School commenced each day as the children lined up and marched in to the tune of a John Phillips Sousa March, played on a record player, powered by a spring, that was wound up manually. The classroom day began with a prayer, a song that was frequently America the Beautiful, and pledge allegiance to the American flag.

During the early days, the playground was divided into two approximately equal parts, one for the boys and one for the girls. They were not allowed to play together. If boys and girls were caught playing together, they were punished, one method of punishment being the requirement that the offenders sit together in a desk designed for two children. Each play area included an outside restroom facility, which many remember not very fondly as a "five holer".

Spelling Bees were frequently held both within the school and between the schools of Princess Anne County, as were music recognition competitions. Mildred McClanan Hassen won the 1928 county music recognition competition by recognizing the Blue Danube Waltz by Strauss, and winning a pen. Ethel Van Nostrand won first place. A non-sectarian religious class was held once each week, as was music instruction. Bands were organized in Princess Anne County in approximately 1946.

The hot lunch program at Courthouse Elementary, and perhaps Princess Anne County, was started by Mary Gertrude Whitehurst McClanan (mother of The Honorable Delegate Glenn McClanan). This program permitted children to bring $.25 per week to school, and they made hot soup each day on the pot-bellied stove.

Rules against corporal punishment had not been thought of in those days, and spankings were frequent. The favorite punishment was spanking hands with a wooden ruler. Frequently the seventh grade teacher and the principal were the same person, and janitorial services were performed by the least intelligent boy in the class. Originally eighth and ninth grades were taught at Courthouse School. Later, grades 8-11 were taught at Kempsville, Oceana and Creeds High Schools. The system of 12 grades in the public school system began in approximately 1946.

An addition was made to Courthouse Elementary School in 1955-1956. The new classrooms cost $298,000, which included air conditioning for the library and office in the old building.



Hickory Bridge School
Opening Date: 
First Principal:
Interesting Facts:

OVERVIEW
A one-room school that was located approximately 500 yards south of the old Courthouse Elementary School was moved to the Courthouse grounds in approximately 1920. The school site cost $1,000, and may have been purchased from Dr. Chilton, who had his medical office in the corner of the school yard. The school contained grades 1-7 and was heated with an old fashioned pot-bellied stove, with the fire being maintained usually by the largest members of the class. It is said that two of the early "fire maintainers" were Herman Glenn McClanan (father of The Honorable Delegate Glenn McClanan) and Herman Bartie.



Kemps Landing Elementary
Opening Date:  1941
First Principal:
Interesting Facts

OVERVIEW
Kemps Landing Elementary was built in 1941 and named for the port of Kemps Landing that was once the heart of a thriving colonial settlement on the banks of the Elizabeth River. Sailing ships docked near the place that Princess Anne Road now crosses the Elizabeth River.

The area prospered and the name was changed to Kempsville. It became the county seat of government around 1775 and soon thereafter one of the fist schools was established in a building that had been a jail. Education was continued in the Kempsville area with the Dickson Free School, built in 1794, and the Kempsville Academy, which served the community from the early nineteenth century until the time of the Civil War.

Kemps Landing Elementary was situated on land sold to Princess Anne County by the O.B. Mears family. The long history of this school site bears strong testimony to the concern of our forefathers for education.

In 1953, a one-story section was built next to the original two-story building and it was used to house elementary students. Then, because of rapid growth, it became a junior high school. In 1966, the school became Kempsville Intermediate, to house 6th and 7th graders, but was renamed Kemps Landing School in 1967. In 1983, due to community needs, the school was changed for usage of 7th graders only. From September 1988 to October 2001, Kemps Landing School housed 6th and 7th graders. Since 2001, this building has intermittently housed students from various grade levels while their home school was renovated or newly constructed.



Little Creek Elementary
Opening Date:  1954
First Principal:
Interesting Facts:

OVERVIEW
The school was built in 1954 at a cost of $475,000. The school was the result of the merger of Princess Anne County and the resort city of Virginia Beach in 1963. Originally, Little Creek Elementary was part of the Norfolk City Public School system.



Oceana Elementary
Opening Date:  1929
First Principal:
Interesting Facts:

OVERVIEW
The school was built in 1929 at a cost of $100,000. A ten room addition and cafeteria were added in 1945 at a cost of $120,000. The school served as a high and elementary school until 1954.



Oceana High
Opening Date: 
First Principal:
Interesting Facts:

OVERVIEW
Oceana High fell victim to her own geography, being located at the end of the main runway for Oceana Naval Air Station. With the Navy's transition to jet aircraft after World War II, the noise level made teaching (and concentration) difficult. The post war building boom in Virginia Beach (as well as the baby boom) had also dictated the need for more classrooms, so, for the first time, Virginia Beach had its own high school, rather than sending students to Princess Anne County schools.



Old Donation Elementary
Opening Date:  1965
First Principal: Grey Cassell
Interesting Facts:

OVERVIEW
On January 27, 1965, the Virginia Beach City School Board paid Mr. W.D. Hobbs, Jr. $4,653 for 13.1 acres of truck farm land located in the Bayside Borough of Virginia Beach. Later in 1965, Haycox Construction Company was contracted to construct a twenty-nine classroom, "T" shaped school, designed by Waller and Britt, an architectural firm, for the sum of $450,063. The school opened on September 3, 1965 with Mr. Grey Cassell as the first principal. For the first two years, the 29 classrooms housed grades 1 through 7. The next three years, it had grades 1 through 5, returning to grades 1 through 7. Enrollment was near 865. When Newtown Road Elementary was opened in 1970, the enrollment was reduced to near 550 students. The school housed regular classes and some special classes. In 1980, the school was named Old Donation Center for the Gifted and Talented.



Open Campus High
Opening Date: 1989
First Principal: Lillian Donnally
Interesting Facts:

OVERVIEW
The school was designed in 1988 1989 at the request of the School Board and implemented in October 1989 at Princess Anne High School. In July 1990, the school was moved to the Career Development Center. The school was returned to Princess Anne High School at the request of the School Board in March 1991.

In the Annual Fiscal Plan (Budget) for 1990 1991, the School Board recommended that the Princess Anne (then the Thalia) Center for Pregnant Teens be incorporated as a part of the Open Campus High School.

In July 1990 it was recommended that the program be expanded to include a day component and that a day facility be sought for the program. A presentation to the School Board in December 1990 recommended that the hours of the program be expanded and a facility be sought for the program. The School Board voted on recommendations expanding the Open Campus High School in March 1991.



Plaza Elementary
Opening Date:  1961
First Principal: Mable Church
Interesting Facts:

OVERVIEW
Plaza Elemenetary was built in 1961 as part of the Princess Anne County. Mable Church was appointed as Plaza's first principal from 1961 to1969. The school originally served students in grades one through seven. In 1973, kindergarten was added and grade seven was moved to the junior high school. A non-graded program for primary children was in effect in the late sixties. In 1973, Plaza took part in the first pilot program of year-round schools. By 1975, the school area was rezoned and assumed the present 10-month attendance pattern. 

A gymnasium was added to the school in 1990. In addition, renovations were made to the school and a dedication ceremony was held on December 7, 1999. Also, Plaza Elementary was instrumental in initiating the job sharing option for teachers.



Pleasant Ridge School (formerly Charity Neck School)
Opening Date: 
First Principal:
Interesting Facts:

OVERVIEW
The building was constructed in the 1880s on Charity Neck Road as a two-room school (Charity Neck School) for white children. It ended its service as a one-room school (Pleasant Ridge School) for blacks. Around 1915, Pleasant Ridge School, burned down. The “big room” of the old Charity Neck School was placed on skids and pulled by horses to replace the burned-out Pleasant Ridge School. The building has been in that location next to Asbury church ever since.

The school served African American children in grades 1-7. Grades 1 through 4 went to school from
7:30 a.m. - 11:30 a.m. and fifth through seventh graders attended classes from 11:30 a.m. - 3:00 p.m. from September through March, to give the children time to help plant the crops. Two outhouses were available - one for girls and one for boys.

The heat came from a wood stove and the children had to get there early to gather wood for the fire. The first person to school in the morning made the fire in the stove inside the school. Later, the School Board provided a coal stove, and once a week, a pot of beans and cocoa were cooked on the stove. At other times, baskets of fruit were supplied.

The school closed in 1955 and the building was donated to Asbury church. In 1990, discussions began to refurbish the school. Former Councilwoman Barbara Henley served on the committee. Others included Alvin and Sadie Lamb, Doris Davenport (student), Lillian Craft and Nina Williams. They had a fried chicken dinner, initially, to help raise money to restore the school. When funds and the committee's steam started running out, former Sheriff Frank Drew offered to donate materials and the Community Work Force from the jail to help finish the job. The Renovation Project was completed in 1997 by the Sheriff Frank Drew Community work Force in cooperation with Councilwoman Barbara Henley.

The school was rededicated on November 18, 1997. The schoolhouse is located on the east side of Princess Anne Road in southern Pungo and next to Asbury United Methodist Church and represents a historic remembrance of early education in Virginia Beach, formerly Princess Anne County.



Princess Anne County Training School/Union Kempsville High School
Opening Date: 
First Principal:
Interesting Facts:

OVERVIEW
Union Kempsville High was established to give African American students in Princess Anne County a school near their homes. Because the county did not operate educational facilities for black children, many parents paid for tuition and transportation costs to send their children to Booker T. Washington High in Norfolk for a secondary education. In the 1930s, black parents in Princess Anne County united to open their own school.

Along with black business and community leaders, black parents formed an association and began raising money to purchase property for a high school. They eventually bought four acres of land on Witchduck Road. The land and $2,000 were given to the county School Board for the construction of a school. When the School Board made no attempts to establish a high school on the site, parents formed a temporary school at Union Baptist Church in 1934. The school initially served grades eight through eleven, but eventually expanded to include the twelfth grade.

Several years later, the School Board finally approved the high school. A four-room Princess Anne Training School opened in 1938 with the help of federal funds and donations from the black community. The building lacked some of the resources of white schools. However, It had outdoor toilets, no cafeteria or science laboratories and only a dictionary in the library.

Throughout the years, parents, students and the community held talent shows, dinners and other activities to raise money to buy materials, supplies, furniture and other items to support the school’s programs and students. Several additions were incorporated at the school between 1949 and 1962. Despite the lack of structural amenities and educational resources, the students were nonetheless able to learn and thrive because of teachers, support staff and parents who always encouraged them to work hard and succeed.

The name of the school was changed to Union Kempsville High in 1962. In 1969, desegregation led to declining enrollment and the school closed its doors. The school division eventually re-opened the original building as the headquarters of its School Plant. The school’s addition later became the Center for Effective Learning, an alternative school for middle school students.

In 2007, alumni and former teachers celebrated the school’s past by participating in the Last Walk, an event that gave them an opportunity to walk through the school and recall their old school days one more time.  A few months later, the building was demolished for the construction of the Renaissance Academy which now houses all the school division’s secondary alternative programs as well as the Princess Anne County Training School/Union Kempsville High Museum.

The museum’s exhibition, Reflections on a Legacy, beautifully represents the achievements of the students and staff and their beloved school.



Virginia Beach High
Opening Date:  1952
First Principal: James A. Johnson
Interesting Facts:

OVERVIEW
In 1952, at a cost of $1,000,000, Virginia Beach High was built as a replacement for Oceana High. It was occupied for the first time in September 1952 and closed in 1965.

Last Modified on Friday, January 20, 2017