OneHandley | Winchester, VA

Jeanette Keylor

Class of 1997

There's nothing like Handley High School. The pride that comes from playing for the school, graduating from there, coming back to visit, connecting with that community is not something every high school can offer. There's a deep maroon and white DNA strand in all of us because of this place. There's something about that "Here's to Handley High" that tugs on the heartstrings when you hear it or sing it. The people I went to school with are still near and dear to me 25 years later. My coaches still remember my name and even recount specific games or memories when I see them. When you go to a football game, you still see the same faces in the stands . . . It's a special place. It's a beautiful building steeped in history in the heart of an amazing city. Since moving away 20 years ago, I've come to respect and miss it even more because there are no high schools around me like it. And when I speak so fondly of my experience there, others cannot understand why my high school means so much to me--not even my husband! I love this school and always will. I'm proud to be Handley High. Thanks to those who are making this 100th celebration happen!

OneHandley | Winchester, VA

Stacey Smallwood

Class of 1986

It's difficult to put into words what Handley means to me. So many wonderful memories and experiences to recall. When I visit or even just drive by the campus, an overwhelming feeling of pride, wonderment, comfort, nostalgia and overall joy overtakes me. When I have a bad day, all I have to do is go to my true alma mater and I feel the comfort of her warm welcome and I know everything is just fine. Handley has been the one thing in my life that has remained steadfast and constant. She is my happy place where I go to rejuvenate.

Erik Millenius | OneHandley | Winchester, Va

Erik Mellenius

Class of 2002

I was a foreign exchange student for my senior year. Coming from Sweden, it was my first time visiting the US. I arrived in the summer of 2001. As a teenager far from "home" and my parents, I was probably more in shock than I wanted to admit. Over the school year I participated in cross country running (really beautiful early morning runs in the pre-season); then my passion, basketball; then track and field in the spring. The coaches meant a lot. Teammates too, of course, but the coaches have a profound and important role. Of course I can speak only for the boys' teams, but the social impact that these adults have cannot be overstated. JHHS was one part of what made that year magical to me. I was warmly welcomed by my amazing host family, the Siberts. I got to meet people I will never forget. Writing this, I am planning to come back (finally!) to visit, after 20 years. Handley High and its teachers and staff were a part of my formative years in a way that I will be forever grateful for.

Andy Vipperman | OneHandley | Winchester, Va

Andy Vipperman

Class of 1995

We relocated to Winchester, VA in 1993. I took one look at the school and knew I was home. I quickly made lifelong friends with students, teachers, coaches, and community members. Years later, I was elected Student Body President, was a member of the 1994 State Championship Team where I was named Defensive Player of the State, and won the Winchester Star Leadership award. Handley is the reason I know how to care, know how to win, and know how to give my full measure of pride in all I do. We are blessed to live in this community where people gather to give our youth scholarships and to make sure anyone has an opportunity. Handley has always been our rally place, our commonality, our symbol of togetherness. No matter where we end up, we are Handley. We are One Handley. One his grave in Winchester, VA, Judge John Handley reminds us, "To whom much is given, much is expected." Handley Pride taught me how to live life with this in mind always. What a life it has been and it all started because one school, Handley, and one community, Winchester, embraced me as its own.

Jimy Gaynor | OneHandley | Winchester, Va

Jim Gaynor

Class of 1987

When I think of what John Handley High School means to me, I think it is the “one thing’ in my life that has given me meaning, and helped me learn and grow in every phase of my life, and this building has been the secret to my success. As a kid, my father, also a teacher at Handley, would bring me to the school during summers of the renovations of the 1970’s. I would run the halls, hike the cat walk in the theatre, climb the bleachers, run on the football field, and try to avoid the screams of Mr. Omps. This school was my Disney World growing up, and I learned about the mystique of this building. When I attended school here, I made lifelong friendships. All of my close friends today, I have met through the halls of this school. I also had incredible teachers and coaches. Mr. Haston, Mr. Uthman, Coach Carpenter, and Coach Leonard taught me how to work hard with a passion, but also have fun at what I was doing. Coach Lindon, who maybe the most genuine person I ever met, taught me how all people should be treated. From these men, I learned about Handley Pride.

After high school, I was accepted to Randolph-Macon College, which was only made possible by another Handley Alum, Senator Russ Potts, who wrote me the mother of all recommendations. I learned about the common bond that this institution has on people from the area, and how we are a fraternity that transcends a hundred years.

After college I started working at John Handley as a teacher and coach. I got the opportunity work with Tony Rayburn, Dan Jones, Matt Roark, Tim Mondell, Derek Dowery, and many others. We worked at the highest level because we did not want to let each other down. I had this same feeling of family in the classroom, with George Glossner, Jim Gowdy, and others. I learned about a brotherhood, and putting others in front of yourself.

Most importantly, at Handley I met my wife Laurie. She demands 125%, and brings out the best of me. We have two children, Megan and Brent who graduated from this institution, have also learned lifelong lessons, and made everlasting friendships with peers. We even had a dog named “Judge”. It was because of this school that my actually family came together. Because of this school, I learned how to be a better husband, and father.

John Handley High School has always been that “one thing” that has allowed every phase of my life to fall into place. This school and everything I learned being associated with the building has been the secret to my success in life.

Elaine Aikens | OneHandley | Winchester, Va

Elaine Aikens

"The choral program at Handley was so dear to me because I had taught many of these students at Daniel Morgan Middle School. It was a continuation of their musical experiences, and I was able to watch their growth physically, emotionally, and musically over the years. The graduating class of 2004 had many students in my chorus that I had taught for 7 years. We were a family who worked and performed together with the same expectations, goals, and commitments. The Hilltop Singers performed throughout the east coast receiving superior ratings, and internationally at the Bahamas Cruise Festival. They won the Grand Champion Show Choir award at Musicfest Orlando in Florida and have entertained on the Disney World and Universal City Walk stages. They performed with past Apple Blossom Grand Marshals such as Dan Aykroyd and Pat Boone. The Royal Command Performance was under my direction for 14 years.

We traveled to Myrtle Beach, Bahamas on a cruise, Disney World, Universal Studios, and New York City where they worked with a renowned Carnegie Hall musical director and Broadway Show actor. The most memorable performance was on the Disney World stage where crowds of people watched them in amazement. Even the Disney representatives said they were one of the best groups they had ever seen. When I taught at Daniel Morgan we sang at the White House and some of these students that I taught at Handley were with me then as well.

I cannot even express to you the happiness and fulfillment in my life that the students have given me these past 14 years in the Winchester system. They offer a true sense of accomplishment and reward to those who work with them. Their vitality and spirit are contagious. I hope that the self confidence that has been instilled within them will follow in all their endeavors. My fondest and most heartfelt experience has been the Apple Blossom Royal Command Performance. The roar of the applause behind me and the smiles and energy on that stage in our auditorium fill my heart with warmth and “Handley Pride.” The expressions on the students’ faces made all the endless hours of hard work well worth it.

I always received tremendous support and encouragement from Superintendents Dr. Burdick, Dennis Kellison and most fondly the support and friendship over the years of Doug Joyner my principal. His kind words kept me going when I would get discouraged. The extraordinary performance opportunities that have been offered to our students will be memories for a lifetime."

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