The Trail Blazer

December 5, 1923

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Handley - Trailblazer newspaper - Number 04 - December 5, 1923 - page 1
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Jacob L. Johnson – Superintendent

Mr. Johnson grew up in Albemarle County. The son of a minister, he chose to attend Hampden-Sydney College after high school because of its affiliation with the Presbyterian Church. He began his teaching career in Covington, Virginia in 1937.

In 1942, he entered the U. S. Navy’s officer candidate school in New York and was commissioned as an ensign in 1943. He served as a gunnery officer aboard a navy transport ship in the Pacific theater and saw combat during the Mariana Islands campaign.

He returned to public education as a teacher and high school principal following the war while completing his master’s degree at the University of Virginia. 

Mr. Johnson has been described as quiet and calm, patient but grounded in a belief in justice and fairness, and reluctant to call undue attention to himself. 

His son Lee, Handley Class of 1969, recently stated that there was no uncertainty on his father’s part that he had been hired by the Winchester School Board in 1965 to accomplish what had not been achieved to that point, namely, the complete racial desegregation of the school system.  He was guided by what he believed his faith and his oath to the Constitution as a naval officer called on him to do.  

Mr. Johnson stated that his plan was to desegregate the school system within a year.  He approached the challenges of his new job with patience, compassion and a well-developed capacity to listen.

While Superintendent, he did more than fully desegregate the school system in relatively short order.  He helped the system successfully accommodate 800 additional students when the city annexed a portion of Frederick County in 1970. He initiated a partial day kindergarten program, planned and built a new John Kerr Elementary School and a new Daniel Morgan Middle School in the early 1970s, and cooperated with Clarke County and Frederick County public schools to open Dowell J. Howard as a regional vocational technical center.  He expanded physical education programs system-wide, developed written curriculum guides in all subject areas and achieved the full accreditation of all city schools by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.


Vernon Douglas Joyner ’78

The Joyner family has had a significant impact on Winchester Public Schools. At the same time, the schools have had a significant impact on three generations of the family.

Mary Ruth Whitten Joyner (Handley Class of 1956) was a teacher, Principal of Garland Quarles Elementary School and Director of Instruction. Vernon Joyner was a teacher and a music supervisor.  Both retired from Winchester Public Schools. Their daughter, Martha Gay Joyner (Handley Class of 1983), was the school nurse at Frederick Douglass Elementary School and their daughter in law, Bobbie, was a teacher for forty years.

However, it is Doug Joyner who has had the widest experience with the school system. He has served as teacher and lead teacher. He has served as coach and sponsor. He has served as Principal of both Daniel Morgan Middle School and John Handley High School. He has served as Director of Student Services and is currently the Director of Human Resources for Winchester Public Schools. 

Doug was the youngest principal in Virginia when he accepted the position at Warren County High School. He later served at Culpeper County High School before returning to Winchester. Activities during his 12 years at Handley included the completion of the largest major renovation of the school building between 2005 and 2009.  

Doug recently stated that his fondest memory from his time as Principal is the joy and exuberance of students when handing them their diplomas. Both of Doug’s children, Amanda (Class of 2006) and David (Class of 2009) graduated while he was Principal.

 “John Handley had a vision but more importantly he acted upon that vision.  The lesson for us now and in the future is that the people who make a difference in our lives are not the ones with the most credentials, the most money, or the most awards.  They are the ones that care for others and act upon that sentiment.

“John Handley High School is a place where teaching and learning happen every day, where character is developed and nurtured, where promises are kept between the generations, and where the achievement of excellence, and a heritage of commitment to these ideals are the true legacy of our community.

“It has been the greatest personal and professional privilege, and blessing, to be affiliated with Handley.”


Jon William “Scott” Hofstedt ’87

Jon Huertas is an American actor well known for his roles as homicide detective Javier Esposito in Castle and Miguel Rivas in This Is Us.

While at Handley, Scott Hofstedt played football, studied martial arts, and worked at Sears.  After spending a year attending college, he enlisted in the United States Air Force and served for 8 years as an aircraft nuclear/conventional weapons specialist. He participated in Operation Just Cause and Operation Desert Storm. He then moved to Los Angeles to pursue the childhood dream of becoming an actor.  

Huertas was born in New York City and is of Puerto Rican descent. He began taking part in school plays, his first inspiration to pursue acting, at the age of 10. His professional acting career started in 1993 when he played an uncredited part in The Webbers. He played the role of Antonio in the television series Moesha in 1998. From 1999 to 2000, he played Brad, a witch hunter, in Sabrina, the Teenage Witch.

Huertas starred in the role of Detective Esposito in the police series Castle from 2009 to 2016. In 2012, he and his Castle co-star Stana Katic received the award for Best Performance in a Drama Episode at the 16th Annual PRISM Awards.

Jon Huertas (Class of 1987), Kevin Covert (Class of 1988, Broadway performer and fellow Handley Notable) and Norman Shankle (Class of 1988, internationally known opera singer and Alumni Music Series presenter) were together as guests of the 2009 Shenandoah Apple Blossom Festival.

Huertas joined the cast of This Is Us in 2016. He was a part of the series until its final season in 2022.

He currently serves on the National and Local Board of Directors for Screen Actors Guild- American Federation of Television and Radio Artists.


Dave Holliday ’67

Dave Holliday is a self-made businessman and a generous supporter of area youth and his community.  Dave was Vice President of the Class of 1967. With the help of a Quota Club scholarship, he attended Virginia Tech, graduating in 1971. He then served six years in the Naval Air Reserve and launched a lifelong career in real estate sales, construction, and development.

Dave has shared his time, leadership and resources with countless local organizations and for his efforts he has received broad recognition.  He was a founding member and first president of Top of Virginia Building Association and received their Lifetime Achievement Award.  His donated time and expertise made possible the renovations to the Shenandoah Arts Council Arts Center, the Godfrey Miller Pavilion, and the Fremont Street Day Nursery. Other timely investments and thoughtful renovations in downtown Winchester gained Dave the Virginia State Preservationists Downtown Development Award of Excellence.

Dave currently serves as Properties Chairman on the Area Boy Scouts of America Executive Board, and has also served as Camping Committee Chair and Council President. He led the reconstruction of Camp Rock Enon and built the Armstrong Scout Service Center on the Youth Development Center campus.  Dave was nationally honored for his service to this community and to Boy Scouts of America with the Distinguished Eagle Scout Award.

Dave worked with Tom Baker and others to construct the Youth Development Center administration building and later added the Dave and Kathy Holliday Annex.  He received the YDC Volunteer of the Year Award.

Dave has been a consistent supporter of the Winchester Public Schools. In 2021, he sponsored the Building Technology portion of the Shihadeh Innovation Center. The wing is named after Dave and his wife Kathy.

The Trail Blazer

November 22, 1923

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Mary McKenzie Henkel ’27

Mary McKenzie graduated from John Handley High School in 1927. She continued her education at Penn Hall and later at the Parsons School of Interior Design in New York.

Mary and her husband, Carroll Henkel, started a modest furniture company in their basement with the help of a friend, John Harris, in 1946. The business moved to a larger facility on North Loudoun Street after a few years. The company employed 22 skilled woodworkers and produced furniture from cherry, mahogany and walnut woods when Mr. Harris sold his interests in the business in 1954. The Henkels built a new factory south of Winchester in 1963.

Many people encouraged Mary to sell the business after Carroll Henkel died in 1969. Instead, she took over operations. She took her employees to Colonial Williamsburg to study furniture manufacturing from master crafters and subsequently expanded the business to become one of the premier reproduction furniture companies in the United States.
Mary became the Chairman of the Board of Henkel-Harris in 1982. She was the first woman named to the board of directors of the Southern Furniture Manufacturers Association and the second woman named to the American Furniture Hall of Fame. She was the first woman named to the board of directors of Farmer and Merchants National Bank. She was named Boss of the Year by the Winchester-Frederick County Jaycees in 1974 and Woman of the Year in 1989 by the Winchester Business and Professional Women’s Organization.

With her business established, Mary Henkel devoted her time, talents, and money to many community activities. Locally, she supported the Shelter for Abused Women, Big Brothers /Big Sisters, Shalom et Benedictus, The Handley Library, the American Cancer Society and the American Heart Association.

Mary served on the Board of Trustees of Shenandoah University. She endowed scholarships for area students and established scholarships for students interested in careers in the furniture industry including the Carroll H. Henkel Memorial Scholarship Fund at North Carolina State University.

One of her favorite activities was the annual presentation of a gift of furniture to the queen of the Shenandoah Apple Blossom Festival. Her wit and graciousness added significantly to the festival’s Queen’s Dinner.


Elizabeth Halvosa Hart ’49

Elizabeth (Lizz) Halvosa Hart attended Handley from 4th through 12th grade. She was the head cheerleader her senior year. She earned her degree in Recreation at Richmond Professional Institute, now Virginia Commonwealth University.

She and her husband Howard (Buzz), Handley Class of 1946, settled in Berryville where she taught 4th grade. She ran the city pool during the summer while teaching swimming and lifesaving.

Mrs. Hart returned to her beloved Handley High School in the early 1960’s as a substitute teacher and soon became a guidance counselor, a position she held until her retirement.  As a counselor, she worked tirelessly to encourage her students to reach their full potential and make the most of every opportunity.  She affectionately referred to her students as “one of mine” when she would see them at any time.

She served as class sponsor for the class of 1973, Handley’s 50th graduating class. Charlie Miller, a member of the class stated: “Mrs. Hart was our guidance counselor and class sponsor, a mentor and a friend. Her enthusiasm for all things Handley was legendary. Frankly, it is people such as she who make Handley a special place in our hearts.”

One of her greatest joys was seeing her daughter and granddaughters Anne Walker and Kassie graduate from Handley High School. 

Her daughter Robyn recently stated: “Her loyalty to Handley filled her heart with joy and her devotion to Handley was unwavering.  A sunny Saturday sitting in the stands at the Handley Bowl was probably one of her happiest times and she rarely missed an athletic event where she could continue to cheer on her Judges.” Numerous former students have stated they knew where she sat at the Handley Bowl and would always stop to say hello to Mrs. Hart.

Mrs. Hart filled her retirement days working as a Winchester Medical Center Auxiliary volunteer in the gift shop where she was recognized as a Volunteer of the Year for her service.  She served as President of the Winchester Retired Teachers, was an active member of the Virginia Retired Teachers Association, and was a member of Delta Kappa Gamma, an International Society whose members are outstanding Women Educators.

The counseling suite at John Handley High School is named in her honor today.

Activity Program Series

Handley Alumni Veterans Recognition Program

On Wednesday, November 8, 2023, the Handley 100th Anniversary celebration continued. As part of the Handley 100th Program Series, the community enjoyed the Handley Alumni Veterans Recognition Program. If you were unable to attended the event, enjoy.


Nicole Haston ’02

Valedictorian, National Honor Society member, Handley Scholar and Winchester Star Leadership Award winner, Nicole Haston graduated with an earned 4.0 grade point average. She qualified for the American Invitational Math Exam working with her father, Dennis, a renowned Handley math teacher.

Nicole was a member of the Key and Booster Clubs, and held leadership positions in the Anchor and Spanish Clubs. She enjoyed service with her church and tutoring Spanish-speaking younger students.

Nicole was part of the district championship track team and competed in regionals as a freshman. In 2000, her 4x200m relay team advanced to the national competition. She earned an individual state medal for the 200m dash as a senior.

Her sister Renee recently stated that Nicole is as proud of her high school athletic accomplishments as she is of her academic math ones, recognizing lessons learned through diligence in both.

Nicole graduated from Princeton University with a degree in Spanish and a certificate in African-American Studies. Her love of theater blossomed at Princeton where she worked in the fully student-run Theatre Intime, rising to the role of Production Manager.

In 2006, she put her degree to immediate use with New York City Teaching Fellows at the Community School for Social Justice in the Bronx. Simultaneously, she obtained her Masters in Spanish Education.

Nicole now teaches in the Prince William County Schools system as the World Languages Department Chair at Woodbridge Senior High School. She teaches Spanish and contributes to curriculum edits, common exam creation, and professional development for peers. She mentors new teachers and is taking graduate coursework toward a future certification as a school librarian.

Nicole is dedicated to consistent improvement of her craft. She often travels abroad immersing herself in the Spanish language and culture including a volunteer trip to Chiapas, Mexico to empower and educate rural indigenous women through theater.

In her personal life, she has two sons, Parker and Malcolm, and loves bringing them to Winchester to the beautiful school where she discovered much of who she is now.