Reviewing the class photographs from Belle View Elementary during the 1970s and 1980s, provides a mirror to the past. Clothing reflected the trend away from formality.
By the late 1970s, boys who would have been in ties and blazers during the 1950s were sporting shoulder length hair and leisure suits. Girl's fashion had changed too, and you can almost guess the year of the picture by the number of "Dorothy Hamill" or "Farrah Fawcett" hairstyles in each class. Blue jeans, the outlawed dungarees of the 1950s, became unofficial uniforms.
Among the staff, fashion had changed, but the teacher composition remained primarily women. Many parents of today's Belle View population were in elementary school during this time. They may remember what is was like to attend school during an era that included the end of the war in Vietnam, the energy crisis, the American Bicentennial, disco and punk rock, Iran Contra, and the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989. It is possible that some of them are pictured in the sets of class pictures held by the school. I invite any parent who was a Belle View student during the 1970s and 1980s to come and see if they can find themselves in old pictures and perhaps share their thoughts about what is was like to be a Belle View Beagle. (Yes, Beagle. Until 1998, Belle View, in green and white, was known as the "Beagles.")
By the beginning of 1970, Belle View was beginning to show its age. The result was a renovation which included additional classrooms in 1971. This renovation added space and improved infrastructure. However, while Fairfax County continued to grow, the area around Belle View had reached a plateau. Many of the families that had moved in during the 1950s and 1960s no longer had school-aged children, and the size of the schools were of all things, getting smaller. At the same time the general school-age population was shrinking and the Fairfax County School Board was looking for a facility to convert into a special education center.
As the result of a sometimes-contentious debate in 1977, the Board voted to select Quander Road School as its new center. They noted that Quander Road had the smallest population of the five Ft. Hunt Road area schools, and would require the least cost to convert. By 1978, most of the students who had attended Quander Road would again be part of the Belle View family.
Other changes were taking place in the school community. By the mid 1980s, the shrinking student population that caused Quander Road to be converted into a center would lead to consolidation at the secondary school level as well. In 1985, Belle View would send its alumni to Sandburg Middle School (formerly Ft. Hunt High School), and then onto West Potomac High School.
At about the same time, the "thirty-something" Belle View again seemed like a candidate for renovation, at least to many of the parents. At first, however, Belle View was not included in county plans to renovate schools with funds from a $179 million bond issue of 1988. This changed, however, with the effective advocacy by the PTA and community. Ultimately, renovations to Belle View were included in the Board's renovation plan. Leadership from that PTA can still be seen today in the community as one of its members, Kristen Amundson, would go on to serve on the Fairfax County School Board and is currently the Virginia State Delegate from the 44th district.
<bci>—Next, a look at changes at Belle View as it approached the millennium and hopefully, share stories of parents who were once students.