New sign installed at Bate: Dedication for school renaming to be held Saturday

Photo submitted
Kirby Stafford, left, talks to the installers of the new letters for the front of the John W. Bate Middle School. Stafford designed the letters.

A new sign dons the front of the John W. Bate Middle School in time for Saturday’s official dedication service.

The school has been Bate Middle School since 1978, when it was built, but officials felt the name didn’t fully recognize John W. Bate, whom the school was named after. In keeping with the name traditions at the district’s three elementary schools, which use their namesakes’ full names, they voted in May to make the change.

At that time, Danville Board of Education Member Troy McCowan said that the change is one that should have been made years ago.

According to archives of The Advocate-Messenger, John W. Bate was a former slave who, after obtaining freedom with his family in 1862, attended Berea College in the late 1800s. He came to Danville to teach in a one-room school, named the Danville Colored School, spending 59 years in education in the city.

Photo submitted
The new letters for the sign on the John W. Bate Middle School.

Beginning in 1912, the school became Bate High School.

When Bate retired in 1941, the school had expanded to be a 20-room school, with 15 teachers and a two-thirds gymnasium. The school was an accredited high school and enrollment had increased from six to 600 students.

In 1964, the schools integrated, and the school became the Bate Junior High. That building was torn down in 1978, after the current building was constructed.

SO YOU KNOW

An official dedication service for the naming of the John W. Bate Middle School will be held at 11 a.m. Saturday in conjunction with the Soul of Second Street Festival. A Celebration Walk to Second Street will follow the ceremony. 

Photo submitted
The new sign on the John W. Bate Middle School.

Photo submitted
The new letters on the front of the John W. Bate Middle School.

Photo submitted
Workers remove the old letters from the front of John W. Bate Middle School.