ALBEMARLE COUNTY, Va. (CBS19 NEWS) -- Burley Middle School serves about 600 local students, but before it became a middle school, it had a rich history of its own.

What makes the building so historic isn't in its brick and mortar. It's in the people and the stories that were made inside it. 

Raymond Carey is a part of history.

“I carry it as a badge of honor,” he said.

As a student of the last graduating class at Jackson P. Burley High School, he learned lessons that set him up for life.

“It helped me set my path," said Carey. "As I moved forward beyond these walls to do bigger and better things.”

Built in 1950, Burley served as the area's African-American high school for 16 years, but to its students, it was more than just a school.

“They were the village. They were the family that made sure we were educated,” said Joyce Colemon, Burley class of 1966.

It helped the students through the hardships of inequality and segregation.

“They didn't talk down to say well because you are segregated you can't prosper and move forward, and so seeing how they made it, I too was able to move forward,” said Colemon.

The building has since been turned into Burley Middle School, but its history lives on as it has now been declared a historic landmark.

For a school to only have been in existence for 16 years and to get this notoriety, sets it up and says anything is possible,” explained Carey. 

The newly revealed plaque will serve as a reminder of Burley's significance for years to come.