Ceredo-Kenova High School (1894-1998)
Ceredo-Kenova High School was a secondary school in Kenova, West Virginia from 1894-1998. It was the first high school in Wayne County and remains the longest-existing. A source of pride for both the Ceredo and Kenova communities, the C-K Wonders won twelve state football championships in its 104-year history. C-K also fielded several notable alumni, including Christian singer Michael W. Smith; MLB player Don Robinson; and Intuit CEO Brad Smith. In 1998 declining enrollment forced the closure of C-K High and it was consolidated into the new Spring Valley High School. The high school building sat vacant for many years until its demolition in 2014 to make room for the new C-K Elementary School.
Backstory and Context
The earliest organized schools in West Virginia date back to the mid-1800s. In 1872 the West Virginia Legislature created the Independent School District of Ceredo to manage education for the Ceredo area. The first high school classes began being offered in the early 1890s; students had to use rooms in the Ceredo Grade School on Main Street, and their only teacher was the principal. Ceredo-Kenova High School is considered to have begun in 1894 with its first graduating class. There were only three graduates; Carl Wright, W. W. Smith, and Lewis Stewart. In 1895 the Ceredo Grade School burned down and a new one was erected on the spot. The high school would continue to share the building for over twenty more years. As the student body began to outgrow its limited space plans were made to construct a high school building located midway between both Ceredo and Kenova. Construction of the new building began on July 19, 1921 and was completed in 1923.
C-K High was well known in the community for their athletics. In 1916 they created their first boys and girls basketball teams. In 1921 the school established their first football team, the C-K Hornets. They wore old green and white uniforms donated by the Marshall College football team; the green and white were soon adopted as the school colors. In the 1920s Herald-Dispatch sportswriter Duke Ridgley, describing one of their games, referred to C-K as the “Wayne Wonders.” The name Wonders quickly stuck and replaced the hornet mascot. C-K won their first football championship in 1928. Later they would go on to win eleven WVSSAC championships, tying with Parkersburg High School for the most titles. C-K would also go on to win two basketball championships, one cheerleading, and one baseball.
In 1998 declining enrollment in schools across Wayne County caused C-K High School to close. It was consolidated along with Vinson High and Buffalo High into the newly-constructed Spring Valley High School in Huntington. The Ward-Craycraft football stadium and the Wonderdome gymnasium were used for elementary and middle school games, while the C-K Alumni Band kept using the school’s band room. The rest of the building sat vacant for years and was subject to vandalism. In 2011, the Kenova Elementary School building on Poplar Street was condemned due to a sinkhole, forcing classes to be relocated to module buildings on the Ward-Craycraft football stadium next to the old high school. It was decided to tear down the old C-K High building and build a new elementary school in its place. C-K High School was demolished on December 3, 2014, ending an over 100-year chapter in the community’s history. The Wonderdome was saved from demolition after donations were made to restore it, and it has since been renamed the C-K Alumni Gym. Plans are also being made to restore the C-K High School football bleachers. The new Ceredo-Kenova Elementary School, combining Kenova Elementary and Ceredo Elementary, opened in 2017.
- "Demolition Underway of Old CK High School." December 03, 2014. WSAZ. Accessed January 21, 2017. www.wsaz.com/home/headlines/Demolition-Underway-of-Old-CK-High-School-284616661.html.
- Morris, Byron T. "Out of the Past: School Paper." The Wayne County News (Wayne, West Virginia), April 10, 1980.
- Pierson, Lacie. "Community reflects on C-K High." The Herald-Dispatch, June 21, 2014. Accessed January 21, 2017. www.herald-dispatch.com/news/recent_news/community-reflects-on-c-k-high/article_58184730-7dd1-579f-b9f9-2aba30fee316.html .
- Stewart, Fay Jean. "Ceredo-Kenova: West Virginia's Gateway to the West." Master's thesis, West Virginia University, 1942.
- Thompson, Robert Michael, and Samantha Lea Thompson. Aging Wonders: The Birth of Ceredo-Kenova. 2011.