‘It was a unique place’: Victoria High alumni reflect

There is a gabled entrance portico rising the height of the one-story red brick building’s front facade. The structure of the old Victoria High School is supported by broad, white Doric Columns – all representative of the building’s 1922-1923 construction in Classic Revival style. 

It’s a relatively simple, traditional structure in design, but it’s been the source of a great many memories for those in and from the Lunenburg County community. 

The former Victoria High closed its doors in 1966 when Kenbridge and Victoria high schools were combined into the racially integrated Central Senior High School. Plans were being discussed to demolish the building, but then in 1993, the Victoria High School Preservation Foundation began rehabilitating the schoolhouse into a multi purpose facility. 

That same year the Victoria High School Alumni Association was formed as well, with the goal of bringing Victoria alumni together through activities and preserving the memories they have shared over the years. 

Victoria High alumni set gathering 

This year on Saturday, April 27, the Victoria High School Alumni Association (VHSAA) will continue those efforts with their annual gathering. 

“We have a delightful time,” said Bobby Johnson, VHSAA president. “People come back from all over the country because they enjoy seeing their classmates.” 

Johnson left the area in 1964 to go to college in Richmond where he lives today. He has served now as president of the Victoria High School Alumni Association for 14 years and travels every year from Richmond, Virginia for the reunion. He said annually other Victoria High alumni make their way from around the Commonwealth and states, including North Carolina and Louisiana, for the event. 

Johnson said some community efforts to have an annual gathering of Victoria High School graduates began in 1982 with a reunion committee and an alumni event has been held every year since with the exception of two years during the COVID pandemic. 

Originally, the Victoria High School reunion was an all-day event. It began with a meeting, followed by an alumni dinner, before closing with a night of dancing. Johnson estimated that at its peak, the alumni day was averaging over 300 attendees. 

Attendance has decreased over the years, with Johnson recording a 12% annual drop for recent gatherings. Every year, the alumni association takes time to include an In Memoriam section for the graduates of Victoria High School who passed in the previous year. 

A planned community beginning in the early 1900’s on largely undeveloped land, Victoria became a hub for a newly constructed east-west railway in the area. The community grew around the railway hub in Victoria into the 1950’s before industry shifted. 

Reflecting on times past 

Johnson recalls Victoria during his time there as a tight-knit, hard-working community that looked out for one another. 

“A lot of people have an identity with it,” Johnson explained. “It was a unique place to grow up. For me, it was an idyllic childhood and idyllic teenage years.” 

As has been tradition for each reunion, a group of male alumnus meet at a local golf club the evening before. Johnson said the Victoria grads reminisce about their time together and share stories from their playing days. 

About five years ago the VHSAA gathering changed to a luncheon. This year the Association is anticipating 125 guests for the event to be held at Lunenburg Middle School. 

“I imagine at some time we will just gather at a small restaurant,” Johnson said. “As long as I’m around, I’ll look forward to it each year.”