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Land offered for new Jefferson school

December 04, 1997

Land offered for new Jefferson school

By CLYDE FORD

Staff Writer, Charles Town

SHEPHERDSTOWN, W.Va. - Ken Lowe Jr. enjoyed his days at the small Shepherdstown High School.

"I was not an outstanding athlete, but I had a chance to play basketball, football, baseball, band. I even fooled around with the discus on the track team a couple of years," said the developer known for being the man behind the construction of the Eastern Management Development Center in Shepherdstown. "At a bigger school, students don't always get the chance to participate."

Last week, Lowe and his uncle, John Lowe Jr., surprised the Jefferson County Board of Education with an offer to give it about 10 acres of prime real estate for the construction of a new Shepherdstown High School about a half mile south of Shepherdstown on W.Va. 480. They and a family partnership jointly own the land.

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The family bought the land about 25 years ago. Since then, the county has changed as people from Washington, D.C., and Baltimore have made the county a bedroom community.

The three county high schools, including Shepherdstown, were closed when they were merged in 1972 into the then newly constructed Jefferson High School.

Lowe estimated the property, which has access to public water and sewer, would be worth about $50,000 an acre.

"This is a way of giving back to the community," Lowe said.

Jefferson County Schools officials are considering the proposal, but no decision has been made yet.

Schools spokeswoman Liz Thompson and other school officials said that a new high school would probably require 55 to 65 acres.

"I thought it was a good offer, but it's not enough to build a high school," said board member Doris Cline.

School officials said they also would have to look at where the best location for a second high school would be.

The county school system also does not have the money to build a second high school.

A $10.6 million renovation and addition project is under way at Jefferson High School to make room for 900 freshmen, bringing the total enrollment to about 2,000 students.

But the sheer size of Jefferson High School's population is one of the reasons John Lowe Jr. thought the offer should be made.

John Lowe, a 1948 graduate of Shepherdstown High School, said he had supported the decision to merge the three schools back then, but now believes it was a mistake.

He said the old Shepherdstown High School was built on about four acres of land and does not understand why 10 acres would not be enough.

John Lowe said he does not intend to offer more land.

for the school.

"How much can an individual give?" he said.

"It's not our intention this be Lowe High School, but be Shepherdstown High School," Ken Lowe Jr. said.

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