Proposed School Sign Questioned

A large sign being contemplated for the entrance of the new Clarke County High School was criticized at today’s Board of Supervisors work session.

This recently purchased warning sign could soon be placed at the entrance of the new Clarke County High School

The sign, which has reportedly already been purchased by school officials, warns against loitering, trespassing, rollerblading, skateboarding, alcohol, tobacco, weapons and pets on school property.

Supervisor’s chairman Michael Hobert characterized the sign as “hideous” and asked Joint Administrative Services director Tom Judge to ask the School Board to reconsider the 4’x6’ sign’s use in a rural community like Clarke County.

“This sign looks like something that you would see in a highly urbanized area,” Hobert said. “I wish that you would just ask them to consider school signage carefully.”

The new sign is just one component of a $10,000 signage request from the School Board and approved by the Supervisors finance committee today.

Judge said that it was his understanding that the sign verbiage had been suggested by an education association and, although not required by law, was designed maximize the school division’s legal leverage should a violation occur on school property.


  1. nancyann says:

    All other signs in the town and county need prior approval. What happened here??? Is the school exempt or something.

    • Jesse Russell says:

      Signs by schools are not exempt to size, height or number of signs. Zoning was contacted regarding the signs and they were given the sign regulations for such. This was just last week and there was no indication to the county that the signs had already been purchased but only being considered along with standard school identification signs.

      • jennifer says:

        Thank you Mr. Russell for clarifying that. Having not seen your comment, I called the school office to see what in the world they were thinking.

        As it turns out, I was the only one who bothered to call and ask for more clarification, that would include the press.

        The sign has NOT been purchased or ordered so I am wondering where the information that it had been actually came from. It is a prototype modified on a computer as an example and, as the article correctly says, is based on recommendations by lawyers and education associations to prevent lawsuits. Apparently, no one in the schools like it either and only took it to the town and to you for recommendations and advise about what would fly as far as size and appearance.

        Also, to clarify, the size of the prototype is 4X4 (Not 4×6) but the squareness is obvious from the picture at least.

        Finally, any design will go to the School Board for final approval before it is purchased. Perhaps they could get some sign companies to do some pro bono designs…

        Boy I am glad I called because it is pretty darn ugly. I have just learned one more time, an important lesson about believing what I read.

        CDN Editor: Based on reaction and input provided by county officials at the Board of Supervisor’s meeting mentioned in the article, the sign was specifically described as already in the possession of the school division with the only remaining question as to where the sign would be located. We appreciate the former school board member’s followup and share the desire for accuracy.

  2. Not only is that sign hideous, but they do absolutely no good. It should go without saying that most of those activities are verboten, and if a kid is going to do any any of those things anyway, a sign surely isn’t going to deter them.

    And so as to not be “un-PC”, aren’t those signs supposed to be in 25 or so different langauages? 😉

    • Fly on the wall says:

      You’re right, Sarge…it SHOULD go without saying, but – sadly – there are many folks (teens and grownups) who willingly ignore those very things that SHOULD be common sense.

      When I’ve arrived to pick up my kid at school, I’ve seen folks walking the track at J-WMS, or playing tennis, or walking their dogs as if they’re at Chet Hobert Park. When I’ve been on the J-WMS track infield, I’ve seen the “landmines” left behind by the dogs of careless folks who walk them. I’ve seen the tennis court nets @ J-WMS get torn up by skateboarders, picnic tables used as stunt props and thus damaged, and so forth.

      The signs should be put up, so nobody can say they didn’t know.

  3. LOVE this sign. Students and citizens need this, for one reason, so they can tell the difference between the school and the park. It’s perfect, after all this institution is for learning, and the students must be kept safe.

    There are people who think the use of school property for there own personal reasons is justified, but it’s not. This sign leaves no questions unanswered.

    In highly urbanized areas you see chain link fences, I’ll take the sign.

  4. Another View says:

    I am absolutely convinced that a sign declaring the school a weapons free zone will prevent anyone from bringing a weapon onto school grounds. And no child would ever sneak a cigarette knowing it is against the rules!

    Ha, ha, ha, ha!!!!!!

  5. Clarke Life says:

    Other counties have them at every single school, so why not? You have parents that come on grounds smoking, kids who use school grounds as skate parks and then when someone calls the police on them for loitering, they say “oh we didn’t know”. Well now there is no excuse-if they don’t know, they will know when they arrive.

    Of course people will make their own choices to do as they please and break the rules. But at least they can’t plea ignorance. If it’s posted they will accept the consequences. Who wants our new school to be loitered and used as a dog park or skate park? Not me!

    Love the sign!

    • Another View says:

      What are you going to do to a parent smoking on school grounds, arrest them? There’s a prudent exercise of government power!

  6. Clarke Life says:

    Another View- again why do you care about all of these things pertaining to public schools in the area, when you so boldly declared that your kids go to private schools?

    Seriously, you shouldn’t even care about any of this. I don’t get why you scan for all of these articles to argue topics that don’t pertain to you and your family.

    • Another View says:

      My tax dollars go to pay for that school. Tax me, and I am entitled to a say. Sorry.

      • Clarke Life says:

        “My tax dollars go to pay for that school. Tax me, and I am entitled to a say. Sorry.”

        Our tax dollars go to a lot of things. So it doesn’t pertain to you but you still argue with everyone- like it is so important to you. And your complaining or “say” as you call it, is not changing anything- with where your tax dollars go honey. If you are so unhappy here, move. You must be bored to death on a Monday night and are just arguing for the fun of it. Yipee!

        • Another View says:

          Apparently you don’t like it when others disagree with you, or with the government class you so favor. Well I have news for you–free speech is a right! Rather than try and stifle debate, why don’t you engage in it, instead of writing snarky comments?

          And I am not unhappy here, and I am not moving. Indeed, I care enough to be involved, to voice my opinions, and to work for a better Clarke County.

          It would be much easier to stay silent. Much of what goes on does not affect me directly, as I have the means to come and to go. But silence in the face of others’ rights being violated is hardly a virtue.

          I stand for liberty, mine and others’. What do you stand for beside yourself?

          • geezlouise says:

            What you “stand” for is coming on here and pontificating about “big government” when that really is not the issue. It’s a sign, it’s a decent sign, and while people can disagree whether it’s necessary or not is one thing. But you turn everything into a platform to complain about “government power” That is what makes people like you what is wrong with the country today, and I am not talking liberal vs conservative, I’m talking about people with a self important sense of projecting impending doom from “big brother”. Silly.

            It’s not about agreeing or disagreeing, it’s about your pathetic attempts to make “liberty” an issue at every opportunity. We know what you think. It’s out here everyday. Ad nauseum.

          • Another View says:

            Freedom is not “free”. It takes work. It was bought and paid for with the blood of our ancestors.

            You may take freedom and liberty for granted. You may be fine with wasteful government spending and over regulation. You may not mind if a schoolyard spat is turned into a criminal matter and police officers patrol public school hallways. It might be your choice to trade your liberty for security. Those are not my choices, however.

            Moreover, your hostility to discussions about the concept of liberty are telling. You clearly find the concept to be unimportant, and refuse to see any threats. Liberty is not first taken at the point of a bayonet. Rather, liberty is taken slowly, by small steps.

            Today people are not permitted to smoke on their own property, or paint their houses certain colors. In Berryville there was government action to remove a sign on private property which promoted Easter. There are cameras and police officers in public schools. A few years ago the County government was found to have violated the First Amendment rights of a businessman who was flying an American flag! WHAT WILL IT TAKE FOR YOU TO WAKE UP? Because I have news for you, when the storm troopers are on your doorstep, it is TOO LATE!

          • geezlouise says:

            If you feel the storm troopers are that close I suggest you hustle your family and yourself into the underground bunker you have no doubt built yourself.



          • Another View says:

            Personally I plan on vacationing in NYC, where I intend to consume copious amounts of salt, sugary sodas, and smoke cigars in Central Park.

          • Make sure you hit up the Carnegie deli. Those oversized sandwiches make a big gulp look like a sip!!!

          • geezlouise says:

            Now that sounds like fun. Do be sure when they have to call the squad (paid for by the government) to take you to the hospital that you do not need their services.

            Have fun hun

  7. Why can’t the kids skateboard and or rollerblade at the school? They need someplace to hang out and skate. Why can’t people walk their dogs on school grounds? All the taxpayers pay for the school, everyone should be able to use it, particulary after school hours.

    • rollmeupandsmokemewhenidie says:

      The reason the activities you refer to are not allowed can be summed up quickly, law suits.It’s all fun and games till someone loses an eye, said some what tongue in cheek.. Then your tax dollars are paying attorneys fees,settlement payments and higher insurance premiums.

    • My 2 Cents says:


      It’s not that they can’t hang out really, but a school is not a park. If there were playground equipment, track or other facilities I could see. But, there is nothing there to hang out an skate but a parking lot. I agree the kids need somewhere to hang out and skate but that’s a different issue. THIS IS NOT A PARK! It is an educational facility with a parking lot, no track, no playground nothing but grass and pavement. The park is right up the road, that is for recreational use- don’t be lazy, be respectful and go to the park where these recreational activities are supposed to take place.

      Also, who wants to walk in dog crap when walking to school? Gimme a break? Walk your dog? I got enough dogs crapping in my yard now from dog owners that have no respect..C’mon. This is not a dumping ground- it is our brand new educational facility and should be treated as such.

  8. Stonebroke says:

    The town police will be running radar up there on the hill, so he could just monitor the grounds while setting up his speed trap!

    • Clarke Life says:

      I agree they will use this as there new hiding place to catch speeders! Look so poorly to do this on School Grounds……

      • jennifer says:

        where better to catch speeders than on or near school grounds. (my street works too).

      • James Haven says:

        If the police camp there to only catch speeders, what sort of message are they giving to the children? The kids could grow up with a negative image of the law enforcers. Nice work!

        • jennifer says:

          the message is this: we are here to protect you from those who have no respect for the speed limit or the law. The only reason the “kids” would grow up with a negative image of the law enforcers is if they had some reason to be in fear of them.

          • Another View says:

            There are two (2) issues here. One, the school should not be off limits to the public, reserved only for government employees’ purposes. It is common for citizens to use the school grounds for recreation–I remember running around the Handley track back when I was young enough to run. And this is not to be discouraged. I recall someone in this thread aghast at the thought of a picnic on the courthouse grounds; why not? Historically, people gathered on the courthouse grounds to trade news and visit, eat lunches, attend court, and conduct business. Both the school and the courthouse are public grounds, and should be open to the public.

            The second issue concerns a police presence. I am not horrified by the occasional parking of police on school grounds with radar to catch speeders. But I am appalled at a constant police presence in schools, whether you call them resource officers, police, security or storm troopers. Children should not be afraid of the police, but neither should they be under constant surveillance by them. We don’t need cameras and patrolling police in our schools. They are not 1984 prison camps.

  9. Got-A-Dollar says:

    The school administration has proven again they can’t stand having excess money. Thanks for standing up Mike Hobert!

  10. clarke conservative says:

    It looks like the school might be in violation of local sign ordinances.

    Rural Residential and AOC/FOC: Special Uses and Neighborhood Commercial (all uses) on highways with speed limits of 25 mph and less 8 sq. ft. and 6 ft. tall.

    This sign looks much bigger than 8 sq ft. (4′ x 2′)

    Section 4-I-3-b can be found at

  11. Got-A-Dollar says:

    Was a study done on the sign? Why wasn’t a consultant used for signage? How about a “Welcome to Clarke County High School” sign.

    • Clarke Life says:

      A study and consultant for a school sign? Wow, that comment takes the cake!

  12. There is no reason why a citizen could not use the athletic fields, to kick or throw a ball, or frisbee on the weekends. Oh, wait a minute, there aren’t any athetic fields!

  13. Realistic Joe says:

    I see no problem with the sign.

    It aids in the protection of property and its “intended” use.

    Yes, sometimes you have to draw some people a picture of what they can’t do. There you go

  14. The sign is ugly as hell. Get rid of the idea. This is not a prison, airport, military facility etc. This is a school. Make the kids feel good about going there. This is just a negative image of something that should be positive.

    • The sign is ugly as hell.

      But it’s a sign of the times. The school system needs to protect itself from liability because personal responsibility for oneself has gone out the window. Our lawsuit-happy society has created the need for signs like these.

      • Then let’s post one at every county building, school, court house, office building, sewer facility, public works garage, etc. Are these not the rules. Brand new school would have looked great without this trash in front of it.

        • Realistic Joe says:

          As Right Winger said…it’s a sign of the times.

          As soon as there is an incident at one of these locations there will be “signage” to cover that issue and more.

          Its called CYA.

  15. Blossom Butt says:

    First, I am surprised they didnt need a study, consultant, architect, etc or the sign since it seems everything that needs to be done has to go through 14 different people first, and each person needs to be paid. Waste of Money.
    Second, how in the world can a school board with as tight a budget as we have spend $10,000 on signs. How about going a cheaper route and still get the same affect?
    Third, who decided to have the sign commissioned and made before even checking to see if it would be approved? Is there anyone running this show or is the board just running willy nilly and doing what they see fit and then asking later “how are you going to make our screw up work”.
    Fourth, it is a public school ground, not a park, not a exercise facility, not a playground. You have no more “right” to use it as you see fit, just because tax dollars paid for it, than you do having a family picnic on the courthouse lawn.

    • jennifer says:

      BB, I checked. The sign has NOT been made or commissioned. It is a prototype mock up that WAS taken to the town and county officials to see if something /like/ that would fly. No one likes its appearance it is a first step in deciding what is allowed and what is necessary to protect the schools from liability.

      There was and is no “screw up” here except in the transmission of misinformation. We must be careful not to believe everything we read.

  16. Stonebroke says:

    I think the Easter Sign looks Better! BOOYAH!

  17. We got married on the court house lawn. The Clarke Courrier covered it also. That was in 1990, I guess times were simpler in the county then. Not as many negative vibes.

  18. jennifer says:

    nothing about beach balls and silly string…. 😉

    I must say though, if the designer thought that putting on square posts with crown molding would help it, I got news for them. They may as well put it on bright yellow u channels. It is very negative and terribly overdone. The message needs to be there as it is in so many other places – but really.

  19. Jennifer says:

    Whether “necessary” or not, the sign SCREAMS suspicion, negativity, and exclusion – nice messages to remind our students of every day. AND it’s hideous. There’s got to be a more attractive – and just as effective – way to say all this.

    • They do have this thing called “email”. As in, get the get the addreses of students and parents and put the “no no’s” in there

      • jennifer says:

        Every one who is already walking their dog their and leaving the waste behind is not a parent or a student. Also Sarge, that would not cover them if someone was injured skateboarding on the property. It is sad but true. You will have to fight the battle against excessive law suits and win that one before the sign cya stuff can go away. I could tell you a lot about ridiculous lawsuits brought against the schools and how much they cost the tax payers even if the schools were to win them. Unfortunately if I did tell you, well…you probably know the rest.

  20. Ridiculous says:

    I am not sure why everyone is so upset, if you go to any other county, including one right next door, these signs are in front of the schools. Same contents, same message, same purpose, school systems are posting these on their properties for liability. Yeah they may be unattractive but a necessity. Really people, many of you are being ridiculous….

  21. PineGrover says:

    If I want to walk around the track don’t I as a tax payer have that right? Have things gotten this bad that school play grounds can only be used during school session? Common sense – if there’s a track meet I’m not gonna be walking on the track!! We as citizens of this county should be able to use these public areas. As for the sign – it’s hideous and so busy who’s going to actually read it?

  22. Got-A-Dollar says:

    One reason everyone is upset, the PTO holds bake sales to help with events, projects and to help with school supplies while $10,000 is spent for signage. Let the school administration sell cookies to pay for the signs.
    Like in the park not every dog owner leaves waste behind. Every skateboarder is not a bad kid. It’s Clarke County, It’s Berryville we don’t want to be like every other county.
    Who will enforce the “do nots”? There are signs at Johnson-Williams and there are skateboarders.
    Empty water bottles and other trash is scattered after any function on school property, how about signs and trash receptacles?

    • jennifer says:

      GAD, the point is if the sign is there you are covered. Sadly, in today’s society, even Mayberry is not safe from “I slipped and broke my ankle on your propetry” Especially on public property, people see opportunities for free money. The administration is simply trying to protect US from expensive lawsuits. If you want to pay them to sell cookies rather than run the schools, I guess you could suggest that but that is not what I pay them for.

      • Another View says:

        The sign does not make you “covered”. Indeed, depending upon the facts, under Virginia law, a skateboarder who hurts himself is plain out of luck. Are you going to next claim that a No Trespassing sign is necessary for the police to evict trespassers?

        • Sage of the mountain says:

          Not in my world “AV”. Police are not required too evict trespassers.

          • Another View says:

            Then we agree. My point is that the crime or tort of trespass is not dependent upon the presence of a sign. Similarly, it is against the law to drink in public, so you do not need a sign informing folks that they are not allowed to drink alcohol on school premises.

            The sign is really just so much overkill. It is a bureaucratic response to a non-existent problem.

  23. Ah Jes Luv Jurassic Clarke says:

    As Bill Ingvall says: “HERE’S YOUR SIGN” and leave it to Jurassic Clarke to earn it the hard way.

  24. Clarke Life says:

    Not to get another post started, but can someone mow the grass in front of Primary School??? Looks as if we are growing hay!!! Pretty embarrassing!!!!

    • livinginbville says:

      @Clarke Life – agree 100%. Did you happen to go to the graduation at the HS this past Sunday? That too needed to be mowed, badly. I heard several people comment on it, and yes, I was embarrassed!

  25. Ah Jes Luv Jurassic Clarke says:

    Being embarrassed and living in Clarke seem to go hand in hand. Lotsa pretty scenery, but not much else.