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Community History and School Reorganization


Like most of Adams County, the Conewago Valley School District is related to many historical incidents and landmarks.  Records reveal that when the white settlers came to America they found the area just west of the Susquehanna River a very acceptable place for settlement.

Throughout the Conewago Valley School District, there is evidence that some of William Penn’s original settlers made their residence here.  It was in this region that contention developed between Penn’s followers and those of the Baltimore-Calverts who settled in the Baltimore area of Maryland.  We had a rich and varied Christian tradition with about equal numbers of Protestant and Catholic settlers.

Conewago Township is the area where the Catholics of Maryland began to settle as they moved northward from Baltimore.  In 1722 approximately 5,822 acres known as “Digger’s Choice” was given to Maryland settlers for development.

Since William Penn claimed that what is now Conewago Township belonged to his colony the need for a survey was apparent.  Two surveyors, Mason and Dixon, were employed to survey the area in order to determine rightful ownership.  Their survey has formed the present boundary of Pennsylvania and Maryland in that area. The survey was resolved by agreements that resulted in an almost even balance between Catholics and Protestants throughout the Conewago Valley School District.

Due to the Catholic influence in the area the Sacred Heart Church, the oldest Catholic church west of the Susquehanna River was established in 1740. The church, located in Conewago Township and now known as the Conewago Chapel, has remained open for periodic service and stands as a religious landmark in this country.

Adams County played an important role during the Civil War.  At the onset of the war, most of the people retained a sentiment of neutrality in that they lived close to the dividing line surveyed by Mason and Dixon. Many people in the area became active in the liberation of southern slaves as is evidenced by the historical Underground Railroad Stations which exist in the area.

Although the major forces which clashed at Gettysburg did not pass through the Conewago Valley School District the rumble and frustrations of the great battle were within hearing range. Today many of the tourists who visit Gettysburg travel through the District.

Since the Civil war, the population of the area has increased steadily.  Most of the industry revolved around agriculture.  However, the Conewago Valley School District does possess an appreciable amount of industrial growth when compared to the remainder of Adams County.


The present Conewago Valley School District was formed through a progression of building projects and reorganizations. Some of the townships and boroughs in the present District started schools as early as 1834 when they were permitted by the General Assembly.  Most of the municipalities operated their own one-room schools for over 100 years.

The first high school (two years) was begun in a rented building in New Oxford in 1908.  The first class was graduated in 1910.  For a total of $1,300, the first combined elementary and secondary school was built in 1913. After several additions, a four-year school developed and the first class was graduated in 1930.  In 1928 and 1929 classes were not graduated because of the transition from a two to a four-year high school.

In 1932 a gymnasium, a new science lab, a shop, and a home economics lab were added. School consolidations caused the gradual closings of one-room elementary schools and the eventual establishment of the Lower Adams Joint School System in 1948.  This system provided for a new junior-senior high school for the area now comprising the District except for Conewago Township and McSherrystown Borough.  The present New Oxford Elementary school was built and ready for students in 1954.  A major addition was constructed in 1968. The Elementary school has served children in the New Oxford area since its completion.

In order to meet the needs for elementary education for the children in Conewago Township, the present Conewago Township Elementary School was built in 1958 with a major addition completed in 1972.  Most of the elementary children who attended public schools from McSherrystown attended the Conewago Township School. Nearly all of the secondary children from both Conewago Township and McSherrystown who attended public schools were enrolled in the Hanover School District on a tuition basis.

The Delone Catholic High School in McSherrystown enrolled most of the non-public secondary school children from throughout the present Conewago Valley School District.

In 1960 the present Senior High School was built as a Junior-Senior High School in New Oxford at a cost of $2,035,000.00  Soon thereafter, in 1962, the former Lower Adams Joint School System became the New Oxford Area School District and the dissolution of the component school districts occurred.

Following the reorganization Act of 1963, there were pressures applied to both Conewago Township and McSherrystown Borough School Districts to become part of a larger system. The logical choices for merging were either with the New Oxford Area School District or with the Hanover Borough School District.  After a long series of hearings and appealed decisions the school districts of Conewago Township and McSherrystown Borough were united with the New Oxford Area Merged School District.  On July 1, 1971, the new district was formed and the name changed to the Conewago Valley School District.

By court order dated June 30, 1970, the eastern portion of Straban Township, a part of the Gettysburg Area School District, was transferred to the then New Oxford Area School District.  On July 23, 1970, the State Board of Education, on the recommendation of the Adams County Board of School Directors and the Secretary of Education, to coincide with the Court’s order, set the effective date of transfer as July 1, 1970.

Because of this sequence of actions the present Conewago Valley School District was formed with a total area approximating 70 square miles. The entire District is now a part of the Lincoln Intermediate Unit which has its headquarters in New Oxford.

In 1975 the New Oxford Junior High School opened its doors for students. All the District 7th, 8th, and 9th-grade students attended school at the Junior High. In 1984 major renovations and addition projects were completed at both elementary school buildings adding much-needed space and updating major building systems. In 1985 a small section of land and storage facility was acquired for the District.

In 1995 major renovations were completed at the Middle School/High School complex. A new media center was added to the High School along with a new District auditorium and additional classrooms in both buildings.  The finished renovations allowed nearly 2,400 students to be housed in this complex. 

In 2001 the District acquired several properties to plan for continued growth. The McGeehan property was purchased to provide access for the future intermediate school and the Garber farm of over 70 acres was purchased for future development.

In 2004 a major renovation of all buildings in the District was undertaken.  Air conditioning and additional upgrades were added to both elementary schools and a new wing was added to the High School and a wing of the Middle School was renovated.  Additionally, the athletic facilities received a facelift.  A  new stadium seating over 4,000 was completed and the baseball and softball fields were completely redone. At the same time, the Conewago Valley Intermediate School was under construction. The building opened to students in grades 4, 5, and 6 in the fall of 2005 resulting in a new configuration of grades within the District:   elementary K-3; intermediate 4-6; middle 7-8; and high school 9-12.

‚ÄčIn 2011 major renovations and additions were completed at NOE and CTE.  At NOE a new wing was completed to house the new all-day kindergarten program.  Offices were remodeled and expanded and classrooms were refurbished.  At CTE a new wing was also built for kindergarten but also included a new gymnasium and cafeteria. A new library was added along with a new art room with major renovations to over half of the building.

The District as it exists today consists of five buildings, educating nearly 4000 students and employing approximately 500 professional and support personnel operating of a $45 million dollar budget.

Original Dedication Dates:
CTE – 1958
NOE – 1954
CVIS -  2005
MS   -  1976
HS    -  1960

CTE – 2004, 2011
NOE  -  2004, 2011
CVIS – 2005 (opened)
HS  -    1995 & 2004
MS  -   1995 & 2004
Stadium – 2004