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Notables

Freda Bates Roberson ’95

Freda Roberson joined the staff of the Fremont Street Nursery in 1997 working in the kitchen. She worked every position at the school before becoming the Director in 2004.

Freda grew up in the neighborhood near the nursery. Their mother, Maria Bates, raised her and her brother after their father died in a traffic accident while working in Fairfax when she was 10 years old.

Teresa Dunham of the Winchester Star wrote on February 7, 2007 that parents can be superheroes but even superheroes have day jobs. That is when daycare enters the equation.

One of the oldest daycare centers in Winchester, Fremont Street Nursery started as the Negro Daycare Center on Pall Mall Street in 1943. The school moved to Fremont Street in 1955 and was renamed in 1962.

Freda believes that children need love, attention and education. When the same people provide it on a daily basis, it provides stability for the children. Children know when they walk through the door of Fremont Street Nursery they are safe. She knows the nursery is a positive force in the neighborhood and has referred to it as an “Oasis of Hope”.

Freda is very active in the community. A member of the Winchester Kiwanis Board of Directors, she has also served with the boards of the Top of Virginia Chamber of Commerce, Healthy Families of the Northern Shenandoah Valley, the Bank of Clarke County Foundation, the American Fundraising Professionals, the St. Stephens C.M.E Trustee Board, the Winchester Renovation Committee, the VPI Steering Committee, and the Opportunity Scholars Advisory committee.

“I am blessed to have the opportunity to do something that I’m passionate about. Trying to brighten the future of children one at a time is simply priceless!”

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Notables

Henrietta Cornwell Ritter ’28

While at Handley, Henrietta Cornwell was a member of the Holmes Conrad Literary Society, the news editor of the school newspaper “The Trail Blazer”, and involved with girls volleyball and basketball for three years. She earned her BA at Longwood College in 1932.

Her first teaching position was in Frederick County where she taught first through seventh grades at the one room Woodbine School in the community of Grimes. She later moved to the county’s Redbud School.

Henrietta married her Handley classmate Frederick M. Ritter in 1934. She stopped teaching after their son, Frederick Jr., was born in 1938.

Mrs. Ritter was involved in the community. She served as President of the Winchester Memorial Hospital’s Ladies Auxiliary where she helped organize the annual “Hospital Follies”. She was a member of the American Association of University Women and a leader in the Girl Scouts.

The Ritter family was active at Grace Evangelical Lutheran Church. Frederick Ritter, Jr, Class of 1956, became a Lutheran minister. He participated in the Vietnam moratorium and the civil rights movement before becoming an instructor in Behavioral Medicine at Eastern Virginia Medical School. He ministered to the emotional and spiritual needs of people in the Hampton Roads area for almost 40 years.

Henrietta returned to Handley in 1964 and taught senior high English along side her sister Edith Cornwell Garrabrandt, Winchester High School Class of 1923. She was a class sponsor and the faculty advisor for the Handlian .

She remained involved in the community after her retirement in 1974.  She was a member of the Winchester Star Leadership Award committee, worked with “Meals on Wheels” and continued to support American Association of University Women projects.

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Notables

Wilbur Odell Riley ’24

Wilbur “Web” Riley was the first class president at John Handley High School. He was a member of the Cadet Battalion, played both football and basketball, and was the Editor-in–Chief of the school’s newspaper “The Trail Blazer”.

He continued his education at Lynchburg College where he had a Hall of Fame career as the captain of the basketball team. He worked on the college’s newspaper and later married the daughter of the college president.

Following graduation in 1928, he was appointed assistant editor of the Woodstock Times, a semi-weekly newspaper in Woodstock, Virginia. He worked with the newspaper for three years before joining the US Army Air Corps where he was trained to fly multi-engine aircraft. He served with the Bomber Command at Langley Field until 1933.

Web returned to Woodstock and became a car dealer. He was active in the community becoming President of the Woodstock Rotary Club and a trustee for the Shenandoah Volunteer Fire Company.

In February 1938, Lt. Riley of the Army Air Corps Reserve was called to active duty to serve as the military commander of the Civilian Conservation Corps camp at Elkton, Virginia. In May, he was ordered to CCC Camp NP6 at Fort Hunt, Virginia.

Web was called to active military duty at the start of World War II. He was promoted to major in 1942 and became the Commanding Officer of the 559th Twin Engine Flying Training Squadron where he trained bomber pilots. He retired as a Lt. Colonel in the United States Air Force Reserve after over 20 years of service.

Web had a Chevrolet dealership in Woodstock after the war. He became the President of Chamber of Commerce. He helped establish the Shenandoah County Memorial Hospital and served on the board of directors. He was a board member of the Shenandoah Telephone Company (Shentel) and the Farmers Bank of Edinburg.

He was elected mayor of Woodstock in 1951 and served as a member of the Virginia House of Delegates from 1958 until 1959.

Among his lasting accomplishments in the Woodstock community was the establishment of a public park with a swimming pool, playing fields, tennis courts and picnic areas. The W. O. Riley Park is one of the nicest parks to visit in the Shenandoah Valley.

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Notables

Ronald K. Rice – Faculty

The year 1966 was a significant one in the history of Winchester Public Schools. Douglas High School graduated its last class in June and after that Winchester Public Schools had only one high school. Ron Rice joined the Handley math department two months later and was named head coach of the football team.

A West Virginia native, Mr. Rice played football and graduated from West Virginia Tech in 1959. He earned his Masters of Education in mathematics at the University of Virginia.

Handley’s football team finished the 1965 season 2-7-1. The 1966 Handley football team was Winchester’s first high school team in the fully racially integrated school system.

The Judges’ first victory under Coach Rice was a hard fought 14-7 win over Martinsburg in the Handley Bowl. A few weeks later, the powerful Clarke County football team came to Handley as 20 point favorites and was defeated 13-12. Handley won 7 games that season.

Handley’s 1967 football team was the first of 2 undefeated Handley teams coached by Ron Rice. Coach Rice used all 53 players on his roster to outscore their opponents 390-49 during the 10 game season.

Handley football under Coach Rice had a record of 43-5-2. His teams won 86% of the games played. Russ Potts credited him with the highest winning percentage of any coach in Handley football history. He won the Winchester Evening Star “Coach of the Year” award twice in 5 years.

At least 30 of Coach Rice’s players went on to play football in college. Don Ratliff went on to play with the Philadelphia Eagles in the NFL.

Ron Rice was described as a man who took young people and made them want to be something and do something with their lives.

It has been said that Ron Rice built a great team spirit among the players and that the unifying spirit spread to the entire student body, to their families and to many people in the community. That spirit laid the groundwork for the force that would later be called “Handley Pride”.

The students who were at Handley with him remember the man and the teacher. Named “Outstanding Young Educator” by the Jaycees, he was always a teacher and a friend before a coach. David Rice, Class of 1979, recently said that he is astounded to still hear stories about his father’s impact on his students over 50 years after he left Handley.

Coach Rice accepted a position as Assistant Coach at the University of Maryland after the 1970 football season. While on a recruiting trip in West Virginia during his second year with Maryland, Coach Rice suffered a fatal heart attack. He was 35 years old.

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The Trail Blazer

February 21, 1924

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Notables

Melvin Rhodes – Faculty

On September 30, 2019, Winchester Public Schools dedicated the Melvin Rhodes Center to an advocate for children needing a different way to learn. Mel Rhodes worked with alternative education students at Handley from 1976 to 2004. 

An article published in The Winchester Star in 1997 stated that Melvin Rhodes knew all about feeling like an outsider. He was from Winchester and did not set foot in Handley as a student because of racial segregation. He graduated from New York University and started his teaching career in New York’s Spanish Harlem in 1970.

His first job at Handley was teaching in the In School Suspension Program in 1976. The program was for students who were tough disciplinary cases or had become apathetic toward education. Many students did not take ownership for their education. Mel stated in the 1997 article, “I believe getting an education is the best thing you can do for yourself. As a black man, I know it opened doors that otherwise would not open.”

The Virginia legislature offered funding for alternative education programs in 1986 when the state’s dropout rate hit 10%. Mel Rhodes worked with Tri-County Virginia OIC to build a Career Internship Program that would combine General Equivalency Diploma curriculum with job training. The first twenty CIP students were dropouts or potential dropouts. At the end of the first year, ten received their GED and ten returned for the second year.

From 1996-99, he served as a School Within A School teacher at Handley and assisted in the development of curriculum guides and programs for at-risk students. From 1999-2004, he was a Winchester Alternative Learning Center teacher and taught every academic subject to at-risk students.

Mel believed that if you create the image of teachers as people, barriers will break down, students will talk, and students will listen.

Mel felt that teachers were “slaves to curriculum” and not allowed to work with a student who was slow or who needed extra help. The Alternative Education programs allowed him that flexibility.

Flexibility and relaxed rules in the classroom did not equate to a lack of discipline. However, his was discipline with compassion. He taught self-discipline and tried to catch a student doing something good such as making it to school 4 days in a week. “We take a student with little success and give them some.”

Handley Principal Douglas Joyner said that Mel would never give up on a student. Mel Rhodes influenced hundreds of students at Handley before he retired in June 2004. He died of cancer two months later at the age of 56.

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Notables

Lionardo Quezada Guevara ’16

A Washington Post article published in January 2020 stated that the future looked dim for a young student at Daniel Morgan Middle School in 2011. He had a difficult home situation, was hanging out with a rough crowd, and making bad personal decisions. Then Todd Miller, his 7th grade gym teacher, asked the student if he was interested in wrestling.

Lio Quezada was a natural wrestler. “I became obsessed with wrestling. It changed my circle of friends, it changed my drive and it changed my demeanor.”

Lio met Coach David Scott at Handley. Coach Scott worked with him, encouraged him, and took him to offseason tournaments. It was not part of his job but he kept the young man accountable and focused.

Working with Coach Scott improved Lio’s wrestling skills and work ethic as well as his grades. Lio won four district titles, three regional titles and two state championships wrestling for Handley.

“If it wasn’t for other people volunteering in my life, I would have gone on a completely different path.”

Lio was accepted at George Mason University and joined the wrestling team as a walk-on in 2016, earning a starting spot over two wrestlers on scholarship. He was able to balance his academic schedule with his intercollegiate athletic schedule while working 30 hours per week to cover expenses until his senior year when he chose to give up wrestling.

Lio participated in George Mason’s study abroad program and worked six weeks in Davao City, Philippines. He learned there that others may face even tougher challenges but he also learned that his values, and his story, resonate with young people everywhere.

Lio volunteered with youth wrestling programs in Fairfax County and at Fairfax High School. He earned his Bachelors and Masters degrees in secondary education at George Mason University and joined the faculty at Fairfax High School. He was named New Teacher of the Year his first year and was named head coach for the wrestling program.

“The reason I’m so happy is because I started living my life for others and not for myself,” he says. “You do a disservice to yourself and the world if you’re not sharing what you were taught. You never know who you might impact.”

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Activity Music Series

Alumni Music Series: Celebrating Love

Instrumental and Vocal Sacred and Secular Music Selections by John Handley High School Alumni.

Acknowledgements: Kimberli Ball, Phil Zuckerman, Rev. Dr. Kristin Whitesides, Lori Ann Horne, Scott Ball, William Chu, Jae Hinson, Betsy Sibert, Mary Will Bowen.

Performers: Donald Finley, Jimmy Ebersole, John Taylor, Sara Boppe, Vicky Edwards, Mitch Hoopes, Garrett Jones, Jennifer Galang, Jake Duran, Elizabeth Albert, Phil Zuckerman, Linda Zuckerman.

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Notables

Garland Redd Quarles – Superintendent

Garland Quarles graduated from Randolph-Macon College in June 1923 with a degree in English and a Phi Beta Kappa key. He accepted his first full time position teaching English at the Handley High School that was scheduled to open in September of that year.

Mr. Quarles walked with the boys in his homeroom from the temporary classroom buildings at the corner of Braddock Street and Gerrard Street to Room 24 in the nearly empty Handley building. He left Handley 42 years later as Winchester’s longest serving principal and school superintendent.

Mr. Quarles earned his Master’s degree in English at the University of Virginia in 1927. He was appointed Principal at Handley in 1928 and Superintendent of Winchester Public Schools in 1930. He retired from both positions in 1965.

Michael Foreman described him as a master teacher, historian, author, orator, model citizen and leader of the community. He became an active member of the Kiwanis Club in 1928. He helped to organize Winchester’s Bi-Centennial Committee in 1949. He was a member of the War Memorial Association and the Winchester Civil War Roundtable.

He was a charter member of the Winchester-Frederick County Historical Society and edited the Society’s first publication in 1931. He served on the Board of Directors of the Society until 1965 when he became Director Emeritus.

Garland Quarles published nine books and two articles on local history.  Most of the books were published with assistance from the Farmers and Merchants National Bank and were reprinted by the Historical Society.

The largest body of his written works was the Shenandoah Apple Blossom Festival pageants. He authored and often narrated the pageants that were performed by students on the steps at Handley from 1930 until 1959. He considered his best to be “The Harvest of the Years” written for Winchester’s Bi-Centennial in 1952.

His Alma Mater, Randolph-Macon College, presented him with an honorary Doctorate of Laws in 1952 in recognition of his mastery of correct English, serving as Superintendent of schools, and authoring the pageants of the “famed Winchester Apple Blossom Festivals”.

The Jaycees recognized him as “Man of the Year” in 1951 and the Chamber of Commerce named him “Outstanding Citizen of the Community” in 1958. The newly organized Judges Athletic Association also gave him an award for his service in 1958. The Winchester School Board named the city’s fifth elementary school for him in 1955.

One of his last projects was the narration of a video tour of Mount Hebron Cemetery done in the early 1980’s. The video not only allowed him to tell the stories of local people but also allowed his unique story telling abilities to be recorded.

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Notables

H. Reed Prosser ’91

Reed Prosser was an excellent student athlete at Handley. He was a member of the National Honor Society, Senior Class Vice President, Boys State representative and had a Hall of Fame career as a starter in football, basketball and baseball.

He earned his B.A. in English at the College of William & Mary where he was a two-year starter and three-year letterman on the football team. Reed returned to Winchester and taught English at Daniel Morgan Middle School while he served as an assistant football and baseball coach at Handley for three years.

Reed left Handley to help Coach Walter Barr build the Shenandoah University football program from the ground up. During his four years there, he was Defensive Coordinator and Assistant Head Coach. He earned his Masters of Science degree in Education Administration while at Shenandoah University.

Reed left Shenandoah University to teach English and to serve as head football coach at Broadway, Millbrook and Heritage-Leesburg High Schools. He led all three schools to playoff berths and playoff wins, earning several Coach of the Year honors. He gave up coaching football and accepted the position as the Director of Student Activities at John Handley High School in 2018.

The Director of Student Activities position allows Reed the opportunity to work with students not only in athletics and activities but also in the arts. He believes that when one uses athletics and arts to supplement academics, one creates a positive culture of success and that the success will permeate the entire school.

He has said he remembers the way he was treated in a positive way by his coaches and teachers; always being challenged to be a better person. “At the end of the day, you want your kids to be better people. If you are focusing on that culture, winning is a byproduct of that success.  It is our job to mold young people into positive community members, servant leaders and productive citizens…thus continuing the Long Maroon Line.”