John Armstrong Chaloner School

Roanoke Rapids Graded School District, in partnership with the Roanoke Rapids Alumni and Friends Association, will host a historical marker dedication at Chaloner Middle School, located at 2100 Virginia Avenue in Roanoke Rapids, on Friday, April 14, 2023 at 10:00 am. 

“We are excited to be able to move forward with placing the maker and invite the public, especially Chaloner alumni, to come out and enjoy this day with us,” stated RRGSD Superintendent Julie Thompson. 

This event will celebrate the resolution that was approved by the Roanoke Rapids Graded School District Board of Trustees in April of 2022 authorizing the placement of a historic marker commemorating the historical significance of the John Armstrong Chaloner School at the Chaloner Middle School campus. 

John Armstrong Chaloner School was one of the first modern schools in Halifax County to serve African American students and operated from 1924 to 1970. The school was originally funded by Julius Rosenwald, RRGSD, and public donations. Philanthropist Julius Rosenwald, president of Sears and Roebuck, created a matching grant concept with assistance from Professor Booker T. Washington of the Tuskegee Institute with the goal of creating equitable opportunities for African Americans. By the time the Rosenwald Fund closed out its construction program in 1932, North Carolina had constructed 813 Rosenwald buildings, far more than any other state.  

Chaloner was one of 46 schools built in Halifax County. The school began with grades one through six and later expanded to the 12th grade. RRGSD later built a gym on the site in 1945 and a one-story brick structure that was the teacher’s residence. A portion of the original structure remains today and is part of the modern Chaloner Middle School.  

Additionally, the Roanoke Rapids Alumni and Friends Association is currently collecting old Chaloner School photos, school trophies, and other memorabilia as a permanent exhibit in the high school’s alumni room.