The dedication of a performing arts stage at 1-year-old Colvin Run Elementary School marked more than just the passage of time, according to school officials. It also signals the end of the controversy that developed when some Great Falls residents were apprehensive about switching their children to the new school.
Colvin Run Elementary is located in Vienna, across Route 7, which delineates Great Falls from Vienna. The student body is pulled from both areas. “This is a very vibrant school, not only for the basic education but for the partnership between the parents and the administrators. It’s used by the community for meetings and things, which has brought the community together,” said Parent Teacher Organization president Jan Pascoe. “Whatever it was [that upset people], it’s all been forgotten. It’s been everything we hoped for and more,” Pascoe said.
School principal Dr. Sandy Furick said the rift that emerged between parents and the county over the new school has been healed “with a lot of talking.” She said she hopes “it continues to develop progressively to meet the needs of the community.”
MORE THAN 700 CHILDREN ATTENDED COLVIN RUN Elementary School in its inaugural year. The brand new school has yet to show the scuffs and scrapes that hundreds of children can impart to a building. It’s a modern and clean facility that is decorated in muted tones.
The color palette, however, may be the only thing quiet about the school. During the dedication ceremony the children assembled in the school’s gymnasium and raised a ruckus every time their principal mentioned the name of any individual who had helped in the development of Colvin Run Elementary. From Janie Strauss, the Dranesville District School Board representative, to the gentleman who determined the bus routes, the students clapped and yelled en masse to show their appreciation. Strauss told the students, “We say children are a reflection of the future. It’s the friends who make Colvin Run a community. Tens of thousands of kids who come to Colvin Run in the future will be following your example.”
No human garnered as much admiration as the school's mascot, a blue and gray “dragon” that waddled and waved to the assembly. As a part of unifying the school community, administrators allowed the children to select the creature that would become their mascot.
Students in the Odyssey of the Mind program at Colvin Mill performed an original skit for their peers that detailed the life and achievements of Catherine Filene Shouse, who is perhaps best known for donating the land for Wolf Trap Farm Park. Highlights included her early years, when her parents started the Boston Symphony Orchestra, and her graduation as the first woman to receive a master's degree from Harvard University. Shouse moved to Northern Virginia in 1940, where she continued her family tradition of promoting the musical arts.
MEMBERS OF THE SIXTH-GRADE GRADUATING CLASS were singled out to be honored by administrators because they attended the school for such a short time but, according to Furick, made an indelible impression. Anthony Alm, a sixth-grader, said he was happy he switched over to Colvin Run Elementary. “It’s really cool because our ghosts are going to stay here. Not to haunt them but to help them,” said Alm.
Tom Brady, the chief operating officer for the Fairfax County school system, said he was amazed at the transformation in the school and in the embedded school spirit that has emerged so quickly in its history. “If you think of the sea of mud that we first began with, and out of that came a school of learning, it’s amazing,” said Brady.
Furick said, “Even though we are proud of the bricks and mortar, we’re most proud of the kids.” Pascoe summed her feelings up saying, “It feels like it’s so much more mature than it is. I hope we continue each year to look at it from a fresh perspective like we did.”