Saying Goodbye to Buckhorn School

An outpouring of emotions and memories started to hit social media after photos of the demolished Buckhorn Elementary School building began circulating on Aug. 9.

Buckhorn Elementary School closed its doors after the end of the 2011 school year. The 260 students that were still enrolled in the school were relocated to South Hill Elementary.

Before the Mecklenburg County School Board voted to shut the facility down, the school thrived under the leadership of Principal Danny Cameron for many years. The percentage of students achieving proficiency in math and reading/language arts was 90-94%, which was higher than the Virginia state average at the time for the 2010/2011 school year.

In 2006 Buckhorn Elementary was recognized as a Blue Ribbon School for achieving superior standards of academic excellence, minority enrollment, and maintaining an average math proficiency of 91% and reading proficiency of 86%.

Generation after generation filled the halls of Buckhorn Elementary School. Longtime bus driver Gerald Snead had seen many of “his kids” grow into adults and loved reminding their children that he knew their parents when they were small.

The school was a special place to the “country kids”, meaning the children who lived outside of the Town of South Hill’s corporate limits. With small teacher to student ratios students were able to form special bonds with their educators.

Fifth grade teacher Sandra Nemeth said, “Buckhorn was a very special place to me. I taught there for 19 years. Each day was a new day with children who loved Buckhorn as well. The biggest impact I remember being a teacher there was how the community became involved with the education of the children. The children not only learned how to read, write and do math; they, also, learned about survival skills. Gerald and Barbara Snead helped me plant a small garden at Buckhorn with my fifth grade students. They came there a few days each week to teach the children (and me) how to plant, harvest, and of course enjoy the vegetation from the garden. I will never forget when the ladies in the cafeteria made a special meal from vegetables we grew in our garden. The children loved it and their hard work had paid off! I can’t go without thanking Vulcan Material, too, for helping me with a grant to help my students learn about landscaping. The students planted flowers, bushes, laid down rocks and even learned the names of plants. The hard work the students put into beautifying the front of the school was gratifying and educational. Buckhorn will be missed but the memories there will last a lifetime.”

Most of us remember being excited to see Mrs. King and her staff in the lunchroom. There was no student that she did not know by first name and homemade pizza day was always a hit.

The school janitor, Mr. James Sadler, was a welcoming presence. “ I remember getting sick in the hallway on the way to the bathroom and the only person around was Mr. Sadler. He didn’t get mad or make me feel bad about it. He simply told me to go to the bathroom and clean myself up and he will take care of the rest,” said one former student.

“Library time with Mrs. Nimitz was always my favorite. I don’t know why but Buckhorn had the best book fairs! Also, the Halloween Carnivals were always fun. Some of my best memories are from my time at Buckhorn,” said former student Leslie McInturf.

Mr. Cameron, the teachers, bus drivers, and the staff at Buckhorn Elementary left a lasting impression on any student lucky enough to have attended the facility. The building will be missed but the memories made there will stick with those students forever.