An Historical Coal Mining Community and Its School: A Study of Pocahontas High School, 1908-1991
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Pocahontas High School, the smallest of four Tazewell County high schools, is presently located in the historic town of Pocahontas, Virginia. From the school's establishment in 1908 until 1955, the high school was located at the top of Water Street within the town limits. In 1955, students were moved to a new building at its present site just inside the town's corporate limits. The school today serves the communities of Abbs Valley, Boissevain, and the Town of Pocahontas, Virginia.
This study included an examination of the role of the school in the mining community, and the relationship between the coal company and the school. Thus, the researcher reviewed literature-surrounding life in mining industrial towns to determine whether Pocahontas conformed to the conventional interpretations of such mining-industrial communities. The researcher also considered the life of the school and community following the cessation of mining operations in Pocahontas. An examination of the reasons for the school having remained open despite declining enrollment and the importance of the school to its communities was examined through the eyes of local community leaders, residents, and graduates of Pocahontas High School.
This study employed conventional historical research methods in order to document the history of Pocahontas High School. The data collected from documents and interviews were handled qualitatively, with some data appearing in the form of numbers and graphs. Data gathered for this study were derived from both primary and secondary sources. This study used written, pictorial, and oral sources. Oral materials included oral history interviews with local historians, public officials and individuals involved with Pocahontas High School during the period of study. Triangulation verification techniques were used to accurately describe the impact of coal mining and the closing of the mine on the development, growth, and decline of the school and community.
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