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Seven schools in Washington County Public Schools system named after individuals or families

April 14, 2013|By JULIE E. GREENE | julieg@herald-mail.com

Washington County Board of education member Karen Harshman has questioned the practice of naming schools after individuals or families.

One of her concerns, she said, was that over time, people no longer would remember who the person was, or why a school was named for him or her.

Seven schools in the Washington County Public Schools system are so named. The following is a list of those schools, and some information about the people whose names they carry.


Bester Elementary School

The precedent for naming schools for individuals or families was set in 1965, when the school system decided to name a school on South Potomac Street for the Bester family.

In 1930, the Bester family sold the school system the land on which South Potomac Junior High School was built, according to Herald-Mail archives and property records. A 1930 deed states the family sold land at South Potomac Street and Willow Lane, the then-proposed Memorial Boulevard, to the school board for $24,000.

The Bester family sold an adjoining piece of land to the school system for $10 “and other good and valuable considerations” in 1963, according to that deed.

In 1965, Bester Elementary School was built next to the junior high school, according to Herald-Mail archives.

Henry A. Bester Jr. and his sister, Clare Bester, signed a letter thanking the school system for the honor, according to the archives.

At a groundbreaking for the elementary school, Henry A. Bester Jr. said his father always had advised him to retain the land for when it would be needed for education.

Tom Hefelfinger said last week that his great-great-grandfather, Henry A. Bester Sr., had a greenhouse shop on Baltimore Street near what is now the new entrance to the library. Bester’s brother, William, had a greenhouse half a block away at the southwest corner of Baltimore and Potomac streets.

Henry A. Bester’s floral business had greenhouses for its wholesale facility, which was across South Potomac Street from where the elementary school now stands.

His great aunt Clare, born Mary Clara Bester, was nice and ran the flower shop “almost 24/7,” Hefelfinger said.

Hefelfinger’s great-uncle, Henry, known as Harry, was “kind of standoffish,” but was “quite a businessman,” Hefelfinger said. He owned Bester-Long; Hagerstown Equipment Co., which became Auto Electric on Maryland Avenue; and New York Central Iron Works, which became part of Maryland Metals, Hefelfinger said.


Emma K. Doub School for Integrated Arts & Technology

Emma Katie Doub once owned the land upon which South Hagerstown High School, Emma K. Doub Elementary School and E. Russell Hicks Middle School were built, according to Herald-Mail archives.

Maryland Department of Assessments and Taxation records indicate a part of Hicks’ grounds were on a different tract of land.

Doub was raised on her parents’ farm, now the site of the South End Shopping Center, and moved into her Summit Avenue home in 1910, according to newspaper archives.

Doub developed a lifetime appreciation for nature and “dearly loved the woods,” Catherine Taylor, one of Doub’s many nieces and nephews, said in 1987. Her love of nature led Doub to donate the woods, known as Doub’s Woods Park, to the public.

When she sold the property to the school system, Doub insisted a lone dogwood tree never be cut down. The elementary school was built beside it and her nieces and nephews donated two more dogwood trees.

When the elementary school opened in September 1967, it was named for Doub.

While deeds for the property state Doub sold it to the school system for $11 “and other good and valuable considerations,” Herald-Mail archives state Doub sold the large tract of farmland to the school system for $40,000. That was the same amount the school system paid about 25 years earlier for the five acres on which Hagerstown High School was built, according to the 1967 story.

Taylor said Doub distributed the $40,000 from the sale of the land to the school system to her nieces and nephews.

While she had no formal medical training, Doub walked to the hospital every day during the World War II flu epidemic to help in any way she could. She also visited nursing homes on Sunday afternoons after attending morning services at St. John’s Lutheran Church.

“She was a wonderful person,” Taylor said in 1987. “She always tried to do for others.”

Doub’s great-nephew, William W. Taylor Jr. of Pasadena, Md., remembers his great-aunt Katie, who lived next door to his grandparents on Summit Avenue.

“What amazed me about her was she had done so much during her lifetime,” said Taylor, the son of the late Catherine Taylor.

In addition to leaving items to her family and donating the woods to the county, she donated a beaded screen to the Washington County Museum of Fine Arts, he said last week.


E. Russell Hicks Middle School

The middle school on South Potomac Street was named for the late educator and historian in September 1967, on the same day the neighboring elementary school was named for Doub, according to Herald-Mail archives.

Hicks was known as “Mr. School Teacher” in the county for many years, retired teacher Donald Haynes said in 1983.

A lifelong Washington County resident, Hicks worked for the public school system for 50 years, according to a March 1999 Daily Mail story.

Hicks worked 25 years at South Potomac Junior High School. He also taught at Sandy Hook, Yarrowsburg, Maugansville, Surrey Boys School, Fairplay, West Washington Street and the old Lincoln Avenue School in Halfway.

After retiring from teaching in 1957, Hicks went to work at the school system’s administrative offices, retiring in 1962.

He served in the medical corps with the 79th Division in Europe, according to newspaper archives.

Talking about his uncle in 1999, Gerald Hicks said his uncle once was left for dead on a World War I battlefield after the enemy gassed him.

E. Russell Hicks served one term in the Maryland House of Delegates during the 1920 General Assembly. He said he was proud to help create City Park in Hagerstown during that term, according to newspaper archives.

A 1967 story noted Hicks was the county’s “unofficial, but universally acknowledged historian.”

In 1956, Hicks was awarded a distinguished service award from the History Teachers Association of Maryland.

Hicks stood on a platform with President Franklin Roosevelt in Sharpsburg for a Memorial Day service and read remarks he’d prepared for the 75th anniversary of the Battle of Antietam.

Hicks died in 1966 at the age of 74.


Pangborn Elementary School

The new Pangborn Elementary School, which opened in 2008, replaced the original Pangborn Boulevard Elementary School, which was built in 1955.

Crestline Avenue was renamed Pangborn Boulevard in November 1930, according to a Daily Mail story. The street ran past the Pangborn Corp. and “has recently been made an attractive thoroughfare through the efforts of Thomas W. Pangborn,” the story stated.

Thomas W. Pangborn was a businessman and philanthropist who was named a Papal Count in 1965 by Pope Paul VI.

He founded the Pangborn Corp., moving it to Hagerstown in 1912. During his tenure, the company’s employment peaked at more than 1,000 people in the 1960s.

Among his contributions were $50,000 toward the construction of a new Catholic church in his mother’s name — St. Ann’s Roman Catholic Church.

Pangborn and his brother, John C., co-founded the Pangborn Foundation, which provided college scholarships, gave grants to various medical groups, and was a generous donor to the building fund for the former Washington County Hospital and Pangborn Hall, an administrative building that originally served as a dormitory for student nurses.

The brothers donated Pangborn Park to the people of Hagerstown in 1939 on the condition it would become a formal garden with recreational and picnicking facilities.

Thomas W. Pangborn was one of three businessmen who asked local businesses to underwrite $1 million for Hagerstown Bank and Trust Co. after rumors of unrest arose following the closing of a Frederick, Md., bank in 1931.


Claud E. Kitchens Outdoor School at Fairview

The outdoor school, which opened in April 1979, is named for the late Claud E. Kitchens, who was superintendent of Washington County Public Schools from 1973 to 1986.

“He loved the outdoor school,” Kitchens’ son, Tom, said last week.

Tom Kitchens said he can recall his father talking about how, for many students, a visit to the outdoor school gave them a chance to see things they had never seen before and might never see again.

Kitchens was a teacher and administrator in South Carolina before taking the local superintendent post.

After retiring from the local school system in 1986, Kitchens worked as the Maryland State Department of Education’s deputy superintendent of schools until 1990.

Ten new schools, including the outdoor school, were built during Kitchens’ tenure as superintendent.

School board member Paul Bailey submitted the nomination to have the outdoor school renamed for Kitchens.

“He originally fought for the funds, some federal government funds, to open a school of that type,” Bailey said last week.

The school was almost closed shortly after it opened because of county budget cuts, according to newspaper archives.

“He was very much interested in it, and dedicated and supported it quite a bit,” Bailey said.

Bailey said that as superintendent, Kitchens made a number of valuable contributions.

Kitchens died Nov. 17, 2008, at the age of 79. The Fairview Outdoor Education Center was renamed in Kitchens’ honor a month later.


Barbara Ingram School for the Arts

Businessman Vincent Groh donated the former Henry’s Theater in downtown Hagerstown for use as a magnet school for the arts, which he asked be named in honor of his late wife, Barbara Ingram.

Ingram grew up in Funkstown and graduated from Hagerstown High School, Groh said last week. She died in 1995.

Ingram taught art in Washington County Public Schools in the late 1950s and 1960s, Groh said.

Hagerstown attorney Bill Wantz remembers taking Ingram’s art classes at North Potomac Junior High School in the 1960s.

“She was probably our favorite. She related to her students in a more contemporary way than the educators in her era,” Wantz said. “She could be a teacher, but still be one of us.”

“She was the first art teacher that I had who expanded our concept of art beyond drawing,” Wantz said.

Ingram was a ballerina, did modern dance, enjoyed drawing and was a member of the Washington County Museum of Fine Arts board, Groh has said.

“She loved art,” her daughter, Katie Fitzsimmons, said when the building donation was announced in 2003.

The arts school opened on South Potomac Street in downtown Hagerstown in August 2009.

The school has programs for dance, instrumental music, theater, visual arts, vocal music and literary arts.


Ruth Ann Monroe Primary School

The primary school on Yale Drive, which opened in 2011, was named for Ruth Ann Monroe.

Monroe, who died Oct. 19, 2005, at the age of 64, was appointed in 1980 to serve as executive director of Memorial Recreation Center on North Avenue in Hagerstown, according to newspaper archives.

The nomination for the primary school to be named for Monroe stated she “was a pillar in her community.”

Her work “benefited the entire community,” Washington County Board of Education member Wayne D. Ridenour said.

“She helped numerous, numerous children,” Ridenour said.

Monroe, known affectionately as “Nanny” for her nurturing support of the community’s children, worked tirelessly to ensure the continued success of the Memorial Recreation Center.

The city of Hagerstown held a tribute to Monroe at City Hall five days after she died.

Monroe served on many boards and was active with several groups, including the March of Dimes, United Way, Washington County NAACP, Big Brothers Big Sisters, Women in Community Services, Hagerstown Boys Club, Head Start Human Services, Washington County Community Action Council, Washington County Commission on Aging and San Mar Children’s Home, according to her obituary.

She served as superintendent for Greater Campher Temple’s Sunday school, according to her obituary.


Other Washington County Public Schools’ properties named for an individual include:

• William M. Brish Planetarium, renamed for the late Washington County Public Schools superintendent in 1999. Brish was schools superintendent from 1947 to 1973.

• Scott Field at Boonsboro High School, renamed during the 2011-2012 school year for longtime track and field coach Dwight Scott, who worked for Washington County Public Schools from 1959 to 1996. During his career, he coached track and field, football and cross country.

• Coach Carroll Reid Field at Smithsburg High School, renamed for the late Leopards football coach in 2009. Reid established the Smithsburg program and ran it from 1967 to 1997, compiling a 206-102-2 record and winning four Maryland Class 1A state championships.

• Mike Callas Stadium at North Hagerstown High School, named for a local philanthropist who founded Callas Contractors. The stadium opened in 2006.

• Paul Imphong Field at Hancock Middle-Senior High School, renamed in 2003 for the man who founded Hancock High School’s football program. Through 15 seasons starting in 1957, Imphong’s teams compiled a record of 44-73-4 and won three Bi-State Conference championships from 1963 to 1965. 

• Daniel K. Kerns Field at Hancock Middle-Senior High School, renamed in 2009 for the man who coached Hancock’s baseball team for 21 seasons.

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