Ceres Virginia


In 2000, a group of alumni from the Ceres school formed a non-profit organization called the Ceres Alumni Association in order to renovate the former Ceres school buildings - the former agricultural building and the gym.  To acquire funds Congressman Boucher was contacted to determine if there were any federal funds to help with this project.  After applying for funds to refurnish the gym floor, to provide a walking track for Ceres citizens, and to update the sidewalks, approximately $100,000 in federal funds were approved.  Groundbreaking activities were conducted on Saturday, October 2, 2010 at the George H. Peery, Sr. Center.  The gym was named in memory of Mr. Peery, who was on the Bland County School Board for approximately 20 years and who was instrumental in obtaining the approval to vote on a bond issue for the construction of the gym in the early 1950's.  Only Sharon District voted for and paid for this.  The vote totals were 251 in favor and 34 against.  Farmers saw their taxes increase but did not complain because having the gym was so important to the community.



The school building that can be seen on the Ceres campus was constructed and first used in 1932.  Prior to that, the Ceres school was a two story white building nearby at the corner of the now Ceres School Road and West Blue Grass Trail.  The agriculture building and an addition to the school building were constructed in the late 1930's.  The school and community always took pride in their basketball team but they had to practice on a dirt court and all games were away where there were gyms.  As mentioned earlier, George H. Peery, Sr. was the Sharon District School Member.  No man ever fought harder to get a gymnasium for Ceres and the bond issue for Sharon District only passed.  The gymnasium was constructed in the early 1950's and has been appropriately named, George H. Peery, Sr. Center.


In 1962, the high school was moved to Bland and then in 1992, the elementary school was closed.  At that point, use of the gym and agriculture building was lost.  These two buildings were used for storage and allowed to deteriorate.  The Ceres Ruritan Club obtained use of the school building for a Community Center and we thank them for maintaining that building.


In 1999, a decision was made to have an all class reunion and to use the gym for their banquet.  However upon inspection, the committee found they could see the sky through the gym roof and a large area of the floor was ruined.  The roof on the back part over the locker rooms was falling in.  The reunion committee had to rent a large tent for their banquet.  It was at this reunion that the movement started to establish an organization to attempt to save these two buildings that were so dear to all who attended Ceres school and were so much needed by the citizens of the community and County.


On March 17, 2000, the Ceres Alumni Association was formed and became a 501(c)3 non-profit organization.  The group was told they would be unable to raise enough funds to repair the buildings.  At the same time a member of the County Board of Supervisors proposed having the gym torn down.  The County Building Inspector was instructed to inspect the building so that it could be condemned.  However, his findings were that the building was structurally sound.


In May and July, 2000, after several meetings with the Board of Supervisors and individual Supervisors, the County of Bland granted no cost leases for the two buildings to the Ceres Alumni Association.  After much work and many fund raisers, the two buildings became usable.  The agriculture building is now the Henry C Groseclose FFA and Agriculture Museum named for Mr. Groseclose who was a founder of FFA and a native of Ceres.  The gym is now used constantly for a variety of events.  But the floor, front and walks still needed repair.  As mentioned earlier, help came in the form of a Federal Grant sponsored by Congressman Boucher for which the community and Alumni Association is very appreciative. 


After this renovation project is completed, the approximately 250 Bland County youth who use the gym almost daily for practice from October - February, will be able to have some of their games there.


We have a lot of people to thank who have spent an untold number of hours for making this groundbreaking day possible.  Thanks to everyone who worked so hard.  And a special thanks to Congressman Boucher and his staff.  They were always there to help when the process got bogged down.  Delegates Crockett-Starks, Keister and Carrico, State Senator Puckett and Ceres native Senator Edd Houck were a tremendous help.  The groundbreaking celebration would not be possible without Bland County Administrator Sweet and his staff, especially Steve Nelson and Keith Niday; and Administrator Howlett and his staff, especially Audra Repass; past and current members of the Bland Board of Supervisors; staff of the VDOT Bristol office, especially Eddie Stamper; Steve Hyder; The Lang Group staff, and most of all, members of the Ceres Alumni Association who for 10 years have spent more time, effort, miles, money, headaches and back-breaking work than most people spend on a full time job.  From the bottom of our hearts, THANK YOU!

The shovel brigade

The shovel brigade - G. H. Peery, III, CAA Board Member; Buddie Waddle, CAA Treasurer; Wade Hall, CAA President; Congressman Rick Boucher; Henry Blessing, Bland County Supervisor; and Bill Hubble, CAA Board Member.


Musicians Lanny Lindamood, Guitar; Cody Sarver, Banjo; and Glen Repass, Bass, provided music for the event


Congressman Boucher at the Podium with Eric Workman, Bland County Administrator, and Supervisors Henry Blessing and Jason Ramsey


Descendants of G. H. Peery, Sr. = Grandson G. H. Peery, III, Granddaughter Denise P. Huff, Great Granddaughter Laura Peery, Great Great Granddaughter Tabby Umbarger, and Rebecca Muncy Peery, wife of G.H. III.


Betty C. Hubble

Betty C. Hubble, Vice President of the Ceres Alumni Association, presenting the history of the building and the federal funding for the project.