During the late 1800's children in the Stuarts Draft area attended various schools consisting of one or two rooms with a dozen or fewer students. Many homes set aside a room and hired a private tutor.
One of the earliest schools was a log cabin structure located on the Turk property. A small community evolved around this structure including a general store and a post office, to which mail was delivered by pony express. The Turk estate was divided and sold into smaller sections and the school was no longer needed.
On December 1, 1880, Joseph H. Rankin sold to the Trustees of the Public Free School of South River District, a small plot of land upon which to build a school house. The property stretched from the small scrub pine in the Howardsville Turnpike (now Main Street) to a stone pile under the fence corner on the Rankin property.
But this school was abandoned for one constructed on the property of Emanual D. Kindig. This school served the needs of the community until the mid 1890's when a "large" five room, two story structure was built along the area that presently borders on Route 340.
Stuarts Draft continued to grow to such an extent that a new school was needed. Property was purchased at the site of the former Upper Grade Building. On April 2, 1914, the Trustees of the School Board of South River District, purchased two lots totaling approximately one acre for the sum of "$500 cash in hand." But this proved inadequate space, so an additional purchase of ½ an acre was necessary. And as inflation would have it, this lot was purchased for the considerable sum of $350 only seven months after the original purchase.
In 1916, a two-story brick building of eight classrooms and basement was constructed. This building was used continually until 1947 when it was abandoned. It was torn down in 1953.
The Stuarts Draft community continued its rapid growth and a relatively new group of directors, the Augusta County Board, appropriated $20,000 for a new building to alleviate overcrowding. A high school was built containing a total of six rooms, which included classrooms, office space and gymnasium-auditorium. In 1935, three classrooms, a stage, and dressing rooms were added to the high school building at a cost of $12,000.
A World War II Veterans Hospital was converted to Wilson Memorial High School in 1947. Stuarts Draft High School students transferred to Wilson, making the Stuarts Draft building available for elementary school utilization.
As the Stuarts Draft area continued to grow, the need for a new school became apparent. Land was purchased for $7,750 and an elementary school was completed in 1955 at a cost of $394,400. In 1967, nine classrooms were added resulting in a twenty-eight classroom facility.
Crowded conditions at the elementary school necessitated the transfer of grade seven students to Stuarts Draft High School during the 1973-1975 terms. Grade seven was returned to the elementary buildings in September, 1975.
The Stuarts Draft district, which encompassed a 100-square mile area, sent 1250 students to the multiple-building elementary school. Kindergarten through grade five were housed in the lower grade building, while additional fifth graders plus sixth and seventh graders utilized the buildings and trailers across the street and classrooms at Stuarts Draft High School.
With the opening of the Stuarts Draft Middle School, as well as the redistricting of the Stuarts Draft/Ladd area in 1978, the elementary population consisted of 520 Kindergarten through fifth grade students. Stuarts Draft Elementary was now a one-building school.
Stuarts Draft Elementary School proceeded along the road of advancement with the addition of a new gymnasium. The brick and steel structure was completed during the 1979-80 school term. The addition of the gym offered great opportunity for advancement in the area of Physical Education at Stuarts Draft Elementary School.
An educationally sound program utilizes all possible resources that are available. During the fall of 1980, Stuarts Draft Elementary School introduced its Nature Trail to the curriculum. The trail is located in the wooded area which borders the back playground of the school. A joint effort from the administration, parents, and Forestry Service brought forth a well-defined trail. The Nature Trail serves to enhance the Science programs of the school.
Stuarts Draft Elementary School went through the transition from a one-room school to a twenty-eight classroom facility. Each step of the transition had been for the improvement of the quality of education offered to its students. Whether children arrived on foot, horseback, school bus or parent-driven automobile, they entered the building staffed by individuals dedicated to providing an ever-improving program of learning.
The new Stuarts Draft Elementary School was opened for the 1995-96 school year. The school houses pre-kindergarten through fifth grade students in a building designed with the educational needs of students in mind and a non-institutional appearance. It can be used as a community and recreational center. Community, staff, student, parent, and teacher input was used in the design phase to insure an efficient and effective facility.
Constructed on one level, the 90,022 square-foot building is climate controlled, tiled, carpeted, and handicapped accessible. Operable windows in each classroom and twenty-four skylights throughout enable the building to be both cost effective and energy efficient. There is a courtyard in the center which can be accessed from the office and halls. Twenty- two acres provide ample parking and recreational activities. The school has forty-two classrooms, auxiliary rooms, and a media center, gymnasium, art room, music room, computer laboratory, guidance suite, volunteer's workroom, teachers' workrooms, clinic, office area, and storage.
Student safety was emphasized in the construction of this school. A vehicular traffic flow pattern was designed to separate bus traffic from commercial deliveries and other traffic. Visual supervision of students is possible from two main corridor locations. Retractable gateways allow for building security and provide after-school building use by community groups.
Community use of the building was an important planning factor. The gymnasium was designed to serve both physical education classes and community recreation activities. A permanent spectator area was built in the gymnasium to accommodate students and spectators.
Technology including computer usage by students and teachers also impacted the building design. Each classroom, as well as a designated computer laboratory, are part of the Local Area Network. This technology provides students with access to the Internet and a wide range of computer software.