Students, teachers gather to remember the legacy of Judge John Handley


On Monday morning, fourth, eighth, and twelfth grade students from across Winchester Public Schools walked from the Loudoun Street Mall to Mount Hebron Cemetery to honor one of the city’s patrons.

The students, teachers, and administrators marched toward a familiar place: the tomb of John Handley, located in the heart of the cemetery.

Handley, a judge who served in a number of Pennsylvania courts, didn’t live in Winchester. But he chose to support public education in the city nonetheless.

“Upon his death, he could have easily turned his donation in the direction of the private sector,” said Lillian Smith, the President Student Government Association at Handley High School about her institution’s namesake. “But he instead donated with the specific goal of benefitting the public. His objective was not just to benefit the few, but instead to change the lives of many.”

Thanks to the $250,000 Handley donated to the city in the 1890’s for the purpose of investing and later building institutions to support public education, a number of Winchester’s iconic locations were established.

“Judge John Handley bequeathed a considerable amount of money for specific purposes in Winchester,” said Allyson Pate, the Chairwoman of the school board. “Over the next 30 years, the Handley Library and two schools, John Handley School and the Souglas School were built. These facilities provided environments for people in Winchester to set aspirations and create further opportunities.”

Over 100 years later, students like Smith remember Handley for not just his donation, but the spirit behind it.

“While we might not have a quarter of a million dollars to invest, we all have ideas,” Smith said. “John handley’s was to improve the lives and to increase the opportunities of those around him. Perhaps we can all learn from his example.”

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