Before We Were Monarchs

By:  Jennifer Yates

Before we were Monarchs, we were Trojans, Rams, and Ironmen. John Marshall High School was established with the consolidation of Moundsville High School, Sherrard High School, and Union High School.  The tale of John Marshall High School, as told by a 45 year veteran of all things Monarch, includes information and recollections as spirited and varied as an imperfect teller of tales—please excuse my imperfections.

Many factors led to the combining of three Marshall County High Schools. The Sherrard High School building was aging and severe overcrowding was the situation at Moundsville High School. Students at Moundsville were attending in shifts; some students started their day at 8:00 AM, and some students started their day at 10:00 AM. This staggered schedule led to numerous students just “hanging out” in and around Moundsville businesses. Bob’s Lunch on Third Street became the unofficial lunch room for many students. Most downtown businesses were concerned that the students were driving away legitimate customers. Marshall County Board of Education President, James Kinsey and the other members:  Paul Harler, Mary E. Voltz, Kenneth Rogerson, and Joseph Cassis realized a larger high school was necessary. The board began discussion about where a school could be built and how to pay for it.

So, in the spring of 1965, the Marshall County Board of Education requested a special election to attempt to pass a bond to secure $3 to 4 million to build a new high school in Marshall County. Only about 30 % of the voters in the county voted, but the bond received a yes vote from over 60% of those voting which assured passage. Another $1.7 million was acquired through accumulated interest on the bond and grants from the Federal Housing Authority, the Vocational Educations Act, the Appalachian Development Act, and the Elementary-Secondary Education Act.  With the money in place, construction began!

Thirty-seven and a half acres in Glen Dale that belonged to the Cockayne family became the site decided on for the school because there wasn’t a big enough area within the city limits of Moundsville that was cost efficient to use.  At the time, it was just an open field; the field wasn’t being used as part of the family farm. The Marshall County Board of Education purchased the land through eminent domain. The ground breaking was celebrated in April, 1966. Architects chosen were Joseph Baker & Associates of Newark, Ohio. The educational consultants were the Educational Administration & Facilities Unit of The Ohio State University.

The building was state of the art for the time; it was a true break from the traditional classroom arrangement. It was equipped with many walls that could be moved and adjusted to accommodate various class sizes, a mini-auditorium for large lecture instruction, modern science laboratories, an Instructional Materials Center (library), seven different vocational areas, and two large common areas for student gathering and eating.

Superintendent, Ernest D. McNinch, was pleased that the building was ready for students by August, 1968 with a total cost of approximately $5.5 million. Head Principal Sam Wiseman was the first leader in administration with Assistant Principals Donald Haskins and John Gillespie in tow; the first Curriculum Director was Charles Fazzaro. They worked tirelessly to have the building ready; however, students attended amid construction issues during that first year. (Current Monarchs can truly empathize with that situation!) Everyone was very excited to be part of such a new and modern school and very proud to begin new Monarch traditions. As we end the first 50 years, here we are, with an even newer, more modern school, ready to continue our long-held traditions into the next 50 years.