In 1953, Ralph and James Boggs compiled and published a complete history of the Village of Covington, which their family has generously agreed to share with the community on this website. Below is the results of their research on Covington Schools.
Newberry Township had not been long settled when the need was felt for an educational system. The first house for this purpose was erected at a spot which is now half way between route 36 and the Highland cemetery, on the west side of the road. It was built in 1815 or 1816 and did not long remain. The second school house was built about 1819 a half-mile farther north on the east side of the road (Highland Cemetery) and remained long in use. The first teacher in the house was Andrew Ballard. In other parts of the township school was held in dwelling and vacant cabins, one being the Trotters Creek settlement where John Barbour and Benjamin Dunham taught. In 1824 an acre of ground was deeded to Newberry Township on whicn was built a hewed-log school house. The first teacher in this building was William Dowler who taught for several years; other early teachers were James Perry and Moses Mitchell. As the population increased we find the township divided into districts each having its brick school house and an acre of ground for recreation. This system prevailed until 1931 when the last building was abandoned for the centralized system. The buildings were sold at auction, some being used for dwellings, storage, etc. One, No. 7 was sold to the American Legion for a meeting house.
1837 saw the first school house erected in the confines of Covington which was a frame structure built on the southwest corner of Main and Spring Streets. The population of the town increased rapidly and a few years later larger quarters were needed to conduct classes. The frame school was sold and a new two story building was built on the southeast corner of Spring and Pearl Streets’ (now Fort Rowdy Museum). John and Ezekiel Ainsworth were the first teachers here.
The inadequate quarters and scattered situations of the schools compelled the Board of Education to build (in 1867-1868) a three story brick house at Wright and Wall streets. It contained 10 school rooms and a large hall and was built at a cost of $10,000. The Board of Education at that time was J. C. Ullery, Isaac Shirtzer, Hamilton Bartmess, Lewis Leonard, M. R. Shellabarger and Michael Bashore. In November of 1868 Supt. R. F. Bennett, with his four teachers, moved into this splendid building and the next year the sixth teacher was added. Two years later the Covington Schools graduated nine members. This first graduating class was composed of: Ermina Cable (Mrs. H. H. Bear), Belle Routson (Mrs. J. T. Bartmess), Belle Quinter (Mrs. Rev. Myers), Hattie Billingsley (Mrs. Robert Harwood), Angie Harrison (Mrs. B. F. Rhodehamel), A. F. Hickman, J. W. Reisner, A. L. Marlin and R. W. Himes.
By 1890 the population had increased to 1,779 and R. F. Bennett was school superintendent and R. W. Himes was principal. Teachers were Z. L. Ramsey, Bella Dorsey, Agnes Flammer, Lola Fahnestock, Effie Kinney, Meda Westfall and Kate Marlin The school board was Jacob Kendall, A. S. Rosenbarger, J. R. Shuman, M. Maier, C. Finfrock and A. C. Hall.
On January 15, 1896 it was decided by a vote of the people to build a new school house in place of the one existing, which had been condemned (at Wright and Wall Streets). The old building was torn down and the grounds prepared for the erection of the new structure. The schools first entered this building on January 18, 1897.
From this period on, the village grew rapidly and as the population increased, the town expanded with it. In 1931, during the Great Depression, a new high school building was erected and equipped at a cost of $140,000, a sum which was stretched to the limit and necessitated buying secondhand equipment, such as the present seats in the gymnasium, which were taken from May’s Opera House in Piqua.
Once again the schools were inadequate, absorbing 839 pupils, 439 being transported from rural districts by six school buses. The administrative and teaching staff totaled 29 and in 1952 the cost of administration was $175,135.41. The schools were governed by the Board of Education, a 5 member body, duly elected to serve terms of four years at a compensation of $3.00 per meeting, not to exceed 12 meetings a year. Board members were: Helen Etter, clerk, Leslie Zimmerman, William Trembly, Kermit Stade, and Clarence Millhouse. J. L. Baker was Superintendent of schools, and Louis Apwisch, principal.
The Birth of Smith Field…
Early in 1947, the Board of Education issued enough bonds to secure $5,000, and as a gift, presented them with an additional five acres. The 10-acre site was then called Smith Field. The bonds have since been retired, being paid off at the rate of $1,000 per year.
In the meantime, a Boosters Club, composed of enthusiastic sportsmen, was organized with Russell Johnson as president. This organization raffled off an automobile and along with several other projects, secured enough money to construct and equip the football field and a quarter-mile track.
Friday, September 26, 1947, was designated as “Booster’s Night”. In the semi-darkness at Smith Field, over 1,500 eager fans heard the words, “We have honored our country with the playing of the National Anthem…now we honor the Boosters by turning on the lights. Let there be light.” R.K. Johnston, Booster president, then presented the athletic facility and Kermit Stade accepted of behalf of the school board. Covington fans were only minutes away from witnessing the rebirth of a sport that had been dormant in Covington for 37 years.
Covington hosted the Piqua Catholic Cavaliers in this first game on the friendly confines of Smith Field, and midway through the first quarter, David Beard went 30 yards around right end for the first touchdown. Dick Supinger booted the extra point as Covington put their first seven points on the scoreboard. Late in the third period, Beard and Supinger duplicated the feat in the same manner and the Buccaneers had their first triumph, a 14-0 victory that started a tradition that exists today.
End of Ralph and James Boggs’ Research — Additional History Added Below
In 1956, the Elementary School building saw its first classes, and housed the equivalent of today’s elementary and middle school students. The 1897 school building (at Wright and Wall streets) was demolished.
In 1974, the current High School officially opened its doors to students. Middle School students were moved from the Elementary School located on Chestnut Street to the old High School building on Grant Street producing the building layout for the school system that existed from 1974 to 2016.
In June of 2016, the middle school and elementary schools were demolished and the new K-8 building was opened in August for the 2016-17 school year. This new facility is attached to the existing high school and all students in Covington Exempted Village Schools are educated on one campus.