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Historic school deserves new life

Like many others, we were pleased to hear the news that members of a local veterans’ group were working to restore the old Green Valley School north of Denton.

Many area residents have fond memories of the school — built in 1919 — and of the Green Valley Community. Early settlers found abundant water and plenty of timber here, and with high hopes for the future, they built a grocery store, a blacksmith shop and a school, only to see the railroad bypass them to build through Aubrey.

The Green Valley School Historical Society started trying to save the old school building, located off FM428 — but ran short of funding after repairing the foundation, said Bob Hunt, president of the society. The project stalled.

Then, members of Vietnam Veterans of America Chapter 920 adopted the stretch of blacktop in front of the old school as a cleanup project, and later, they adopted the old school building itself.

In March of last year, the chapter began the renovation, and now, the sounds of construction work can be heard on many afternoons.

Gary Steele created a website to chronicle the work done on the building. Posted photos show the veterans tearing out the old, rotten building materials and hammering up new. Chapter members literally raised the roof with long poles attached to heavy blocks, and they replaced the joists and beams underneath.

The veterans have volunteered more than 6,000 man-hours so far, Steele told us. And now they’re moving inside the structure. They’ve been able to save about two-thirds of the building’s longleaf pine wood floors. The remainder was lost because of a roof leak.

Chapter members have donations of doors and light fixtures, but they still need an air-conditioning system, drywall and a lot of other things to complete the project.

“Times are hard right now,” Steele said. “It’s hard to get people to donate. But once they’ve seen what we’re doing, it’s amazing.”

One room of the building will be kept as the old classrooms looked. The others will be fitted for meetings and gatherings. The hallway still will run the length of the building.

The veterans and the historical society set up several ways for supporters to help with the project. There will be a Wall of Honor for veterans — for $50, a plaque will be hung on the wall honoring the veteran, and for $99, a biography of the veteran will be added to the Wall of Honor on the website.

Supporters can purchase windows in honor of loved ones, and donations can be made online at using PayPal. Supporters can also contact the society and the veterans via the website to learn what supplies are needed. Donations are tax-deductible, Steele said.

“We still need $80,000 to $90,000 to finish,” Steele said. “We’ll do it with some help. We’re a bunch of guys who gave to our country, and we’re still giving.”

Something tells us that this group of generous and hard-working veterans will get the support they need to complete the project.

We hope so. The Green Valley School played a key role in the area’s history, and it deserves to live on.