Parents, children size up Cooley

Posted: August 16, 2014

The Winchester Star

Teachers and staff direct parents and students at the new D.G. Cooley Elementary School Lower Campus during a dedication and open house Friday.
Janet Creager Alger, chairwoman of the Clarke County School Board, speaks at the D.G. Cooley dedication.
Clarke County Public Schools Superintendent Chuck Bishop speaks at the D.G. Cooley Elementary School dedication on Friday.


School doesn’t start until Monday, but that didn’t stop eager parents and children from crowding the halls at the D.G. Cooley Elementary School Lower Campus on Friday afternoon.

They were there to get their first glimpse of the former Clarke County High School since it was renovated and expanded to house pre-kindergarten through first-grade students from Berryville Primary; second- and third-graders from the original D.G. Cooley Elementary School; and the Apple Country Head Start child development program, previously held at Boyce Elementary School.

Clarke County Public Schools Superintendent Chuck Bishop welcomed everyone to the new school.

“It certainly has transformed into a vibrant elementary school at this point,” he said. “We’re very proud of it and know that it will serve this community for years to come.”

School Board Chairwoman Janet Creager Alger described the former high school’s transformation as “phenomenal.” She noted that the new kindergarten and preschool wing has eight classrooms.

“There’s something missing — the 15 portable learning cottages [classrooms needed at the original D.G. Cooley] — and we’re glad they’re gone,” she said.

Third-grader Davin Bomze was checking out his new classroom Friday. His favorite part of the new school is “probably going to be the gym.”

Davin’s mother, Kathleen Bomze, graduated from the high school in 2003.

“It’s changed a lot since I went to high school here — unbelievable,” she said. “It’s a really nice change.”

Reading specialist Kristin Sheridan thinks her new workspace is palatial.

“I’ve moved on up in the world,” she said. “I was in a trailer at Berryville Primary, so being in the building in a bigger space, it’s definitely going to help me work with the students a lot better.”

Sheridan recalled having to shepherd children to the trailer in the rain.

“What am I going to be doing with all those extra umbrellas now?” she joked.

Joyce McCracken was touring the school with her daughter Mary-Kate, who is going into first grade, and her son Charlie, entering third grade.

Charlie was also excited about the gym.

“It has big, gigantic basketball hoops,” he said.

“I like the light,” said his little sister, adding she’s most excited about “making new friends.”

First-grade teacher Gary Wymer has skylights to let in natural light in his interior classroom.

“It’s great, especially compared to [Berryville] Primary — nicer air, better lighting,” he said. “It’s just a fresh, new school. The rooms are nice-sized. Even the upgrade in technology is amazing for us.”

Laira Owens was playing with a train in what will be her kindergarten classroom. Her older sister Brianna will be a third-grader.

“It’s awesome,” Brianna said of the school. “I like the much bigger hallways.”

Her mother, Joyce Owens, said the school is an “advancement,” also noting trailers are no longer needed.

“And, I’m excited that the kids have larger learning spaces, especially with their music [classroom],” she said.

— Contact Sally Voth at