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Thoughts on the Shepherdstown Elementary School property

By Staff | Jun 18, 2021

I made the following presentation to the Jefferson County Board of Education on June 14, 2021.

As a believed, sixth generation lifetime member of the Shepherdstown community, with two wonderful sons (Andrew and Tripp), the three of us attending Shepherdstown Elementary, Shepherdstown High and Middle Schools, with several grandchildren following the same paths, I offer the following suggestions for consideration.

The elementary school (in town) means a great deal to “our way of life” for these youngsters. Believing that many of the students attending live within town or close to it, the thought of busing these kids out-of-town raises concerned questions regarding preparing to leave home earlier and arriving home later. Coupled with weather and safety issues, is this a logical decision? It’s one thing to drop off the kids locally as compared to driving them two miles, twice a day, if they don’t ride the bus. Some fifth graders might even choose walking to school. As a developer and real estate broker who has been involved with numerous projects around town, might I suggest — build a new middle school first on the proposed Flowing Springs Road site, then retrofit the middle school to accommodate the new elementary facility where there is an existing gymnasium and Osbourn athletic field (football), plus room for expansion. Place the valuable real estate property, where the elementary school is located, on the market for sale and use the proceeds for remodeling the middle school or wherever needed. I’m estimating considerable dollars could be saved and a new Shepherdstown Elementary School would remain close to town in a location that benefits all, especially the youth.

As before, if asked, I would consider offering my experience and time to assist. Again, this is not criticism, but merely a suggestion and perhaps public opinion could be welcome going forward. These youth are our future! And if the reasoning not to consider this concept is because bonds are committed for the elementary school, I’ve been around enough projects to know that things can be changed.

There is always another way. If you think it’s not possible, just remember: Shepherdstown is the true birthplace of the steamboat. James Rumsey’s invention and demonstration of the boat powered by steam on the Potomac in Dec. 1787. Quintessential Americana that affected the world. George Washington formerly endorsed Rumsey for first successfully applying steam for navigation.

The national effort to declare our freedom and establish the United States of America with the Beeline March to Cambridge, Mass. took less than 200 military men 25 days to walk 600 miles, walking 30 miles per day. It helped create a new country and form the first continental army. It was confirmed and announced by U.S. Secretary of the Army in 1989 that this was the official birthplace of the American Army.

These, for the first time ever, brave historical events took place in Shepherdstown. So please don’t proclaim “we can’t change what has been started.” We don’t have to follow the path of least resistance to avoid doing what is best for our youth! Yes, “[o]ur town of destiny is one of the greatest small towns in America!” The Jefferson County School Board is composed of elected positions and plays a most prominent role in our future communities. I congratulate [our board members] and thank [them] for serving and giving me the opportunity to share my thoughts.

“To dream is free. The cost is in the hustle!”

Ken Lowe, of Shepherdstown