STRASBURG — The town has recognized alumni from Strasburg’s former African-American school in what Vice Mayor Scott Terndrup described as a landmark moment.
At the Nov. 12 Town Council meeting, he read a resolution for students and friends of the Sunset Hill School. The school closed in 1965 following desegregation.
“I think of all the 14 years I’ve been on this council, this is my proudest moment at the honor of reading this,” Terndrup said.
The resolution by the town commemorates the Sunset Hill School and its predecessor, the Queen Street School, which Terndrup said was destroyed by fire in 1929. Nine alumni and friends who were present for the reading of the resolution are working on an application to the Virginia Department of Historic Resources to install a state highway historical marker at the site of the old school.
Terndrup said the town wishes to follow their lead and support their endeavor, in part by working through the Planning and Zoning Department on placement of the marker and pledging to continue maintenance on the marker after it’s installed. The Strasburg Historical Association and representatives from the former Strasburg Middle School are also helping with the project.
“We wish to offer our support,” Terndrup said, reading from the resolution. “[The school] extends the town’s culture in incalculable ways.”
Calling the school a living history, town resident Marquetta Mitchell thanked the council and said she hopes the historical marker will help educate on Strasburg’s past. She plans to submit an application requesting the roadside marker by the end of the month.
The addition of the historical marker is “phase 2” of a project she said started 10 years ago when Strasburg Museum President Gloria Stickley approached Mitchell with a request to help answer questions about Strasburg’s black history at the museum.
“I’m not an expert of black people,” Mitchell recalled saying, “but there are black people in this town.”
Deciding the best way to answer the questions was “to tell everyone what we knew,” she said she approached others who attended school in a segregated Strasburg to collect their stories.
“We pulled the information together and made our history part of Strasburg’s history,” she said.