March 23rd, 2012

23 Mar

Sing with me!

By Silver Blue


Enter to learn, leave to serve.

This is the motto by which we shall live.

Maroon and gold, our banner high we raise…

Wythe School, Our School, we proudly sing your praise.

Yes, I still remember the school song from my final elementary school, Wythe Elementary, where I attended from 1980-1981.

The school, built in an Art Deco Style, opened in 1936 as the George Wythe Junior High School. In 1950, the new George Wythe Junior High opened on Gloucester Street, and the old building became the Wythe Elementary School. (The original Wythe Elementary School had been built in 1909 and was demolished; the site was repurposed by the Wythe Recreation Association as the Wythe Neighbourhood Membership Swimming Pool.)

Wythe Elementary closed in 2010, and for the first time in over a century, the City of Hampton was left without a school named after Founding Father, George Wythe.

The building went through numerous renovations over the years; on the second floor is an auditorium that used to have a balcony you could sit in (and access) from the 3rd floor. Due to structural damage, however, the balcony was removed prior to 1980. On the first floor was the cafeteria, and entrance to the fallout shelter (yes, there were fallout shelter signs on the building when I went there. I didn’t poke around the property (besides, my allergies were getting the best of me.)

There exists a photo of the school (when it was built as a Junior High) with it’s original windows…:

(Courtesy of the Library of Virginia). (The old elementary school can be seen at the left of the photograph)

The school was about 4 blocks from where we lived, so I could walk, or ride my bike to school.

Pardon the distortion from the stitching of the panoramic shot — this is actually 7 photos stitched into one photograph, as I could not get back far enough to photograph the entire building (due to houses being behind me.)

We were known as the “Wythe Owls”, after the large owls that are over each entrance. (This is the left owl.)

Our school song came from the granite engravings over each door.

Here’s the right owl. I hope that whatever becomes of the building, that they put the owls in a museum, along with at least one of the “Enter To Learn/Leave To Serve” granite signs.

There is talk of making the former school into an adult education center. But as you can see, time is beginning to cause deterioration. Hopefully the city will be able to restore the schools exterior/facade into what we students had been proud of for years.

In 2002 (22 years after I attended the school), the students commemorated 9/11 with the planting of a tree. The granite block (engraved with an owl) says “Growing out of our hopes and wishes for America. The children of Wythe Elementary School, September 11, 2002.”

This is the tree that was planted, a decade ago, and the stone marker.

Coming home, I found St. Francis of Assisi hiding in the azaleas.


(Okay, so the song is more fitting for High School, but hey… how many times is there something actually from Grease 2 that is fitting??)

Silver Blue, who now is off to scrub the pollen from my eyes!

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