The History of Leesville Road Elementary School

The Leesville Road Elementary Story

In the fall of 1960, Leesville Road Elementary School began its proud history with fourteen classrooms housing grades one through seven.  The school is located on Leesville Road, the main thoroughfare in the attendance area, thereby giving the school its name.  The campus-style facility was designed by Mr. Carl Cress and constructed by English Construction Company.  The first principal of the school was Mr. Andrew Foley.

The school opened with three units: one unit contained eight classrooms, another six classrooms, and the third unit consisted of the library, teachers’ room, resource room, and a projection room.  The school served grades one through seven.  There were fourteen classroom teachers, a principal, a librarian, a secretary, two custodians, and approximately 420 students.

The administration building and the cafetorium were not completed until late fall of 1960.  Until these units were opened, the students brought their lunches and ate in the classrooms.  The office was temporarily located in the library.

Two new units, each containing four classrooms, were added in 1961.  The resource and projection rooms were also converted into classrooms making a total of twenty-four classrooms, an administrative suite, media center, and cafetorium.

Beginning in 1965, Mr. Robert Hicks came from Brookneal Elementary School to Leesville Road Elementary School as principal and remained until 1967 when he assumed the principalship at Brookville High School.  His secretary was Mrs. Boolie Martin, and she remained as secretary for the next three principals until she retired in 1992.

During Mr. Hicks's tenure in 1966, the sixth and seventh graders were transferred to the old Brookville High School building which became Brookville Middle School.  Mr. Hugh Pendleton followed as principal and stayed until 1971, when he was named principal of Rustburg High School.  Mr. Jack Ballard succeeded Mr. Pendleton and stayed for ten years when he was appointed Director of Elementary Education for Campbell County Schools.

The school served grades one through five until 1973 when grade six was again housed at Leesville Road Elementary for two years. During this time, several mobile classrooms were added to accommodate the increasing enrollment.  Kindergarten was added during the 1973-1974 school year on a half-day basis.  The enrollment at Leesville Road Elementary School decreased by more than two hundred students in 1974 when Tomahawk Elementary School was built.  The enrollment decreased again by approximately one hundred students in 1975 when the City of Lynchburg annexed a portion of the attendance area.  Students from New London Academy were transferred to Leesville Road Elementary in the fall of 1976 to compensate for the loss of students who were transferred to Tomahawk Elementary School and Lynchburg City Schools.

In 1981, Mr. Lee Lewis left the J. J. Fray Elementary School principalship to return to Leesville Road Elementary School.  Asbestos materials were removed from the school in compliance with government health regulations during the 1985-1986 school year.  Ceilings in the original sections of the building including the cafetorium, library, and the administrative suite were replaced; the interior and exterior of the building were refurbished.  Each section was vacated for safety purposes during the removal process.  Grades four and five were temporarily housed at Brookville Middle School during the 1985-1986 school year.  An administrative assistant was assigned full time, and grades four and five operated as an elementary school with middle school surroundings.  The principal served grades kindergarten through three at Leesville Road Elementary and grades four and five at the middle school complex.

Under Mr. Lewis’s leadership programs for the gifted, computer literacy, computer labs, remedial reading, and special education were expanded or added.  He was also responsible for implementing the school's pre-kindergarten program.  Kindergarten was extended from a half-day to a full-day basis in the 1983-1984 school year.  The enrollment of the school then was approximately five hundred seventy students.

The Campbell County School Board implemented plans in the summer of 1986 to alleviate overcrowded conditions at several elementary schools.  The elementary attendance areas were changed to coincide with high school attendance areas and reorganization patterns.  In the transfer process, Leesville Road Elementary received one hundred students from Yellow Branch Elementary School and in turn, transferred one hundred students to Tomahawk Elementary School.  Grade five was permanently relocated to Brookville Middle School and grade four was returned to Leesville Road Elementary School, which at that time served four hundred seventy-five students.

Several years ago, the Campbell County School Board and the Campbell County Board of Supervisors committed the county to fund a major construction program at Leesville Road Elementary School.  Community and staff input into this project was facilitated by Mr. Leon Brandt and Mrs. Boolie Martin of the school board and Mr. Leroy Helferstay and Mr. Jimmy Mays of the board of supervisors. Their ideas were transformed into the "new" Leesville Road Elementary School by Mr. Craig Brewer, Director of New Construction.

The project probably was one of the most difficult school construction jobs ever attempted in the state.  A campus-style facility was placed under one roof, necessitating continuous movement of students and staff throughout the year and a half of construction.  During this process all persons involved were extremely patient and cooperative.

Finally by mid-December 1998, Leesville Road Elementary School was ready for its dedication to another forty years of serving our youth.  After the construction was completed, grade five returned to Leesville Road Elementary.  Although the "new" school is almost twice as large as the old one, the warmth and cohesiveness of its staff and community have not changed.  The school has been and will remain one where children come first.

The school has been served by nine principals: Mr. Andrew Foley (1960-1964), Mr. Robert E. Hicks, Jr. (1964-1967), Mr. Hugh Pendleton (1967-1969), Mr. Alvin J. Ballard, Jr. (1969-1981), Mr. J. R. Lee Lewis (1981-2000), Mr. Bruce Abbott (2000-2007), Mrs. Katherine B. Bowles (2007-2011), Mrs. Amy Hunley (2011-2018), and Mr. Joel Slater (2018-present).  A series of assistant principals have also served Leesville Road Elementary School: Mrs. Nancy Farley, Mr. Lee Lewis, Mr. Charlie Booker, Mr. Rhody Meredith, Mr. Bruce Abbott, Mr. Richard Burge, Mrs. Kathy Bowles, and the current assistant principal, Mr. Kenneth Marks.

The road directly in front of the school building was renamed “Lewis Way” on June 16, 2000, in gratitude of Mr. Lewis’s service.

The current enrollment of Leesville Road Elementary School is approximately six hundred thirty students, grades pre-kindergarten through five.