John Handley High School is situated on a beautiful picturesque campus overlooking downtown historic Winchester, Virginia in the heart of the Shenandoah Valley. From the rich history and deep tradition to the monumental "Handley Steps" overlooking the athletic field and park-like setting, you would not believe you are at a public school when you step foot onto the Handley Campus.
Cutting edge academics including a variety of foreign languages, comprehensive offerings in Advanced Placement and Dual Enrollment courses, a focus on global education through our iEARN partnership, and a personal 1:1 mobile device initiative all combine to provide our students a fully comprehensive learning experience focused on acquiring the 21st century skills needed to succeed.
State of the art facilities and a fully comprehensive and dedicated athletic program, along with an award-winning fine arts program including theatre, chorus, band, and visual arts truly do set Handley apart. In fact, John Handley High School was recently named the most beautiful high school in the Commonwealth of Virginia. Those accolades continue inside the school where a thrivingly active student body and dedicated staff truly embody the characteristics of what it means to be a Judge.
Although he never lived in Winchester Judge Handley’s love of the town and its people developed through friends and acquaintances living in the town. Upon his death, Judge Handley bequeathed $250,000 to Winchester to be invested by its leaders. When the investment reached a value of $500,000 it was to be used to build a library [the Handley Library]. In addition, the remaining amount of the estate was to be accumulated for twenty years and was to be used to build schools for the education of the poor. The trust was to be governed by the Handley Board of Trustees, created in 1896 by an act of the Virginia legislature. John Handley High School was built by the use of funds from this trust.
His concern for the less fortunate and charitable actions was evident throughout his life not just in his last requests. Upon his death, many, many tributes were paid to his practice of providing for the expenses of many students in various schools and colleges. This continued through provisions in his will for all of the students attending school at the time of his death.
Judge Handley’s bequest created a publicly endowed school but more importantly, it created an environment, a culture of support, and appreciation for public education. We work in a school system that values excellence, produces achievement, and cares about students as a result of the actions of this benefactor.
The true value of John Handley’s gift can best be seen in the faces of the students who stand about his monument in the spring of each school year. They are a testament to the fact that one person can make a difference. John Handley had a vision but more importantly, he acted upon that vision. The lesson for us now and in the future is that the people who make a difference in our lives are not the ones with the most credentials, the most money, or the most awards. They are the ones that care for others and act upon that sentiment.
History, tradition, pride, accomplishment these things are only realized by the fulfillment of our promise, our contributions, and our influence in the world. We offer gratitude and recognition to John Handley for providing the spark that focused a community. But for those of us fortunate enough to work and learn in this special place we must continually remind ourselves that the worth of our actions is solely dependent upon our ability and willingness to turn opportunity into accomplishments. This is the foundation of our success and the true meaning of Handley Pride.