There was a K-12 school district in each village of Maybrook, Montgomery, and Walden until 1958, although centralization was brought up as a possibility in 1955 due to overcrowding at the three buildings. Walden was operating on double schedules by the time the district centralized.
Each of the three villages was reluctant to lose their identity, but “centralization” immediately brought the hope that new structures would soon be underway to house the bulging classrooms of the three village schools and the rural school at St. Andrew’s and that a more superior education could be offered to all students of the district through new facilities and more resources.
On July 2, 1958, when the new centralized district was one day old, the unofficially named “Town of Montgomery Central School District” held its organizational election and voted to seat nine members on the Board of Education. As soon as the election was complete, discussions about new buildings began.
In January 1959 the voters selected the Russell Site as the home for the proposed East Coldenham Elementary School, and the Muller Site for the junior and senior high schools. The following June, the voters approved a $4.2 million bond issue for the construction of these new buildings and renovation of the existing schools. The three villages kept their own schools but operated as one district until a new central high school/junior high school building could be built in 1961.
The Class of 1959 was the first graduating class from the newly formed district although each school had its own valedictorian and salutatorian. Commencement ceremonies were held at Montgomery’s school with Walden’s Valedictorian and Maybrook’s salutatorian delivering their respective speeches.
Building VCHS and VCMS
By mid-March 1960, construction had begun on what was to become, at the time, Valley Central Jr.-Sr. High School. At the conception of the district it was intended to have one building for the Jr. and Sr. High students, but soon after the plan evolved to two buildings.
After 18 months of labor, the high school building opened on September 9, 1961, to 7th-12th graders and was dedicated that November. Construction began at Valley Central Middle School soon after.
East Coldenham Elementary
East Coldenham Elementary began the building process after the purchase of the Russell site and was opened in 1960. On November 16, 1989, a wind shear with tornado force winds of over 60 mph shattered the glass wall of the cafeteria just as 120 first and second graders were having lunch. Seven children died under the collapsed wall that day, two more passed away from their injuries six days later. A kindergartner was also killed the same weekend and all ten children are remembered in a memorial garden, painting, and in awards and scholarships. The wall of the building was redesigned and rebuilt following the tragedy.
In 1969, the district added Berea Elementary School as the three village elementary schools were again at capacity. Berea was dedicated in November 1969 and celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2019-2020.
From the time of centralization, the district operated its Central Office/Grounds Department from a farm house down the road from the High School / Middle School complex. In 1988, voters approved a bond project completed in 1991 that added an updated Central Office building located on property behind Berea Elementary, a Facilities office and garage space on the far edge of the Middle School property and an Olympic size swimming pool/natatorium and new wing that joined the High School and Middle School.
In 2000, the district was able to add new wings to the Middle School, Montgomery, and East Coldenham through a building incentive program with OUBOCES.
Alternative Learning Center Opened at Maybrook Elementary
In 2013, the district closed Maybrook Elementary School in an effort to close a budget gap sending the students to Montgomery and Berea Elementary. The building reopened in 2014 as an Alternative Learning Center for students at all levels with school anxiety to provide a place within the district to meet their needs.
When the three villages first centralized, it was decided that the “Town of Montgomery Central Schools” was just too long a name. The adults tried to come up with a new name that incorporated parts of the three village names and also attempted to come up with a common set of colors and a mascot that paid homage to the three original mascots. But that proved to be a difficult task- especially considering they had to work with the Warriors (Walden), Marauders (Montgomery), and Railtowners (Maybrook) and had six colors; black and gold (Walden); black and orange (Montgomery), and red and white (Maybrook) to blend. Finally, they agreed to let the students decide. In March 1959, students voted to name the district “Valley Central” and have our mascot be a Viking, hence we became the Valley Central Vikings. The students also chose Royal Blue and White as our official colors.
Students Design the Official Seal
The official seal of the district was developed by a group of students that formed the Seal subcommittee of the VCHS Student Government Association in 1964. Jerry Ancona, Class of 1965, was the chairman of the committee and drew the seal.
The group decided to symbolize three things they hoped they would gain from Valley Central to take with them in life: collaboration, teamwork and learning. They chose a gavel to represent participation in clubs and organizations that would teach them cooperation, collaboration, and a sense of community. They chose the winged food to represent athletics that give an appreciation for teamwork and healthy fitness.They chose the lamp of knowledge to represent the education that they hoped would illuminate student minds and impart a love for lifelong learning.
They chose three words as the best motto to represent Valley Central; loyal, progress, service.
“May you forever remain LOYAL to your true purpose,
May you continue to PROGRESS, to both grow and improve,
May you continue to SERVE the community in a magnificent way.”
A Brand New Viking
Valley Central used many Vikings as a logo over the years eventually settling on the viking usually associated with the Minnesota Vikings. In 2015 a district committee was formed to consider the creation of a new Viking. VIP Branding developed a unique mascot designed by graphic artist Mike Ray and brand platform that was introduced in 2016.
Our brand platform includes our Valley Central Viking with wordmarks that include a logo for the “Lady Vikings” and our sneaky Viking who peers over the word Vikings. The committee thought our new Viking might be a little too strong for the elementary and so VIP designed the Youth Viking mascot for us. The platform also included a new crest and a digitized seal.