Shouse Leads 'Name That School' Voting

Shouse Leads 'Name That School' Voting

The new Fairfax County elementary school between Trap and Towlston Roads in Shouse Village that has been known by a generic name, “the Andrew Chapel site,” could be called Catherine Filene Shouse Elementary School to honor the first woman ever to receive a Master's Degree in Education from Harvard University.

She also gave the United States government its first and only national park dedicated to the performing arts, the Wolf Trap National Park for the Performing Arts in Vienna.

That name got the most votes at a public meeting on Mar. 31 attended by some 70 parents who live in the attendance area for the school.

It will be formally proposed at the April 10 meeting of the Fairfax County School Board, with action scheduled on April 24.

Some 43 names were suggested, including the names of famous women, the authors of children’s books, and other, more creative suggestions from children.

One four-year old modestly suggested calling it Danny Elementary after himself. Karl Meyer, a fifth-grader at Spring Hill Elementary, suggested Rock ‘n Roll Elementary, which made the top five list.

Each person at the meeting was allowed five stickers and could place only one of them beside each of five names, to elect the group of finalists.

They final totals for the top five names were Catherine Filene Shouse Elementary, 29 votes; Colvin Run Elementary, 23; and Phoenix, Rock ‘n Roll, and Andrew Chapel, each with fewer than 10 votes.

Catherine Filene Shouse once lived in a blue house on Trap Road that is still used for office space.

IN 1930, CATHERINE FILENE SHOUSE bought a 53-acre tract of land that was part of 5,568 acres originally owned by Thomas Fairfax and his wife, who later divided it between their sons. Shouse named it Wolf Trap Farm to honor its heritage.

As early as 1632, records indicate that wolves had caused much damage in the region. The Virginia General Assembly offered rewards of tobacco for those who constructed pits or traps to capture and deliver wolf heads to the General Assembly. A smaller reward was given to those who used a gun or some other means to kill the animals.

But as more people moved in, wolves became less of a threat. In an official land survey dated August 17, 1739, the name "wolftrap" appeared as a branch of Difficult Run.

After buying the land for $5,300, Shouse later added more parcels until in 1956, it totaled 168 acres.

Several years later, the government bought 40 acres at $1,700 each to build the Dulles Access Road, leaving the farm at 128 acres.

Shouse's original intention in buying the farm was to share with her children the love of nature that she had known as a child in the family's summer home in Weston, Massachusetts.

The land meant a great deal to her, and she spent much of her time grooming and restoring the properties.

On what is now the west parking lot at Wolf Trap, the Shouses grew corn, wheat, alfalfa and oats to provide food for their chickens, ducks, and turkeys, angus steers, hogs and milk cows. It was a true working farm. They also raised horses and built a stable and hay barn to accommodate them. Riding was a favorite activity of the family and their friends.

Although Shouse knew nothing about farming when she bought the land, she learned to do everything that was needed. The farm was a place she shared happily with friends.

Its reputation as stimulating gathering place for friends and family was widely acknowledged and invitations to the Shouse farm were eagerly sought. Countless friends enjoyed gourmet home-cooked foods at wonderful parties, dances and carnivals.

"That had a good deal to do with my decision to want Wolf Trap to remain permanently for people and not be divided into one-acre or half-acre lots," said Shouse. "So many people had grown to love it, and I wanted it to be used forever by people who enjoyed that land. It's a very cherished piece of property."

Born in Boston, MA on June 9, 1896, Shouse was a graduate of Wheaton College.

Devoted to the performing arts, she was also a leader in education, politics, women's affairs and international affairs.

She knew every U.S. President from Woodrow Wilson through Bill Clinton, who was in office when Shouse died in December, 1994, at the age of 98.

-Source: Wolf Trap Foundation