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10 facts you may not know about Rockingham County schools
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10 facts you may not know about Rockingham County schools

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Rockingham County Schools Superintendent Rodney Shotwell, North Carolina 2015 Superintendent of the Year, visits 2nd graders at Leaksville Spray Elementary School, on Wednesday, December 10, 2014, in Eden, N.C.

Beginning in January, North Carolina educators began celebrating 175 years of public education. In Rockingham County, that anniversary is even more special.

It was Jan. 20, 1840, when George W. Garrett opened the state’s first public school in the southeastern portion of Rockingham County.

Today, the Rockingham County school system is made up of 25 schools and 13,200 students.

Here are 10 facts about the school system you may not know:

1. The Garrett Academy was the state’s first public school. Today, it is now known as Williamsburg Elementary School and is located in Reidsville. Led by Principal Gary Pyrtle, the school has around 500 students.

2. Williamsburg Elementary School has endured several changes over the years. One of the biggest happened in 1970 when Williamsburg and Roosevelt elementary schools merged. The two schools kept the Williamsburg name following the merger.

3. Garland Paschal held three positions at the elementary school. He was a student, teacher and principal.

4. The Rockingham County school system was once separated into four systems: Rockingham County Schools, Reidsville City Schools, Eden City Schools and Western Rockingham City Schools. In 1991, Reidsville City Schools threatened to drop its charter to force a merger with Rockingham County Schools. Reidsville officials believed a combined system would create a better use of school funding.

In November 1991, the four school systems agreed to work toward a merger. On July 1, 1993, the county’s children were educated by one system.

5. Since the merger, five superintendents have led the district. On Dec. 1, 1992, Ira Trollinger became the district’s first superintendent, six months ahead of the merger. George Fleetwood began leading the district in December 1994. Walter Bromenschenkel followed in June 2002. Bill Capehart served six months beginning in July 2005.

Current Superintendent Rodney Shotwell began in June 2006 and was recently named the 2015 N.C. Superintendent of the Year.

6. The county has a mascot named Rock Star, who is six years old.

7. Following the merger, the school district began educating students from the county’s seven towns: Eden, Madison, Mayodan, Reidsville, Ruffin, Stoneville and Wentworth.

8. After the merger, the district had to decide how to represent the seven towns fairly. In 1993, Rockingham County residents elected two people from each former district, creating an eight-member board of education.

9. Since the 1993 merger, the district has built nine new buildings to house Rockingham County’s students.

10. Now, an 11-member board of education oversees the decisions made on behalf of the district. Six members represent a specific district and five represent the county as a whole. But for the past two years, the board had to make do with only 10 members after one at-large member resigned due to controversy. The board returned to 11 members following the Nov. 4 general election.

Contact Danielle Battaglia at (336) 373-4476, and follow @dbattaglianr on Twitter.

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