When Aaqib Syed starts fifth grade at the new elementary school in Fair Oaks next year, he may well be attending a school he named himself. The new school, located on Dixie Hill Road in the Fair Oaks area, will open in September, costing $16 million and with a capacity for 750 students. It will be part of the Fairfax High School pyramid, drawing students from Colin Powell, Brookfield Center, Fairfax Villa, Willow Springs and Greenbriar East Elementary Schools.
Teachers, administrators and school officials met at Liberty Elementary School in Clifton Wednesday, March 15 to come up with ideas for what the school will be called. Any audience member could suggest names, but only families living within the boundary of the new school could vote on the name. The name still has to pass muster with the division superintendent and School Board, but by April 6, the new name should be final.
Aaqib's suggestion, "Eagle View Elementary," came up as the voted-upon winner. The name is a reference to the landscape of the area as well as the national bird, said Aaqib.
"It's cool, and it's the name of the national bird," said Aaqib, who attended the meeting with brother Ghalid and father Mahmud.
Driving along I-66 one day, said Syed, he suggested the family begin thinking of names for the new school. All three members of the Syed family came up with names, with Ghalid offering "Coretta Scott King Elementary School" in honor of the late civil rights leader and wife of Martin Luther King, Jr., and Mahmud suggesting "Albert Einstein Elementary School." Syed said he picked Albert Einstein, the second-place name, because 2005 was the 100th anniversary of the physicist's most famous papers on subjects such as special relativity and quantum theory of light. March is also Einstein's birth month, said Syed.
"[Aaqib] came up with Eagle View. I liked it," he said.
BEFORE THE AUDIENCE members began choosing names, Cluster VII superintendent Becky Pearson offered historical facts about the area surrounding the new school.
"We'd like for you to know a little bit about the area where the school is going to be built," said Pearson.
Kimberly Willison, assistant principal of the new school, described the Oakley House, built in 1739 on 200 acres in Chantilly by Thomas Millan. Millan's son John fought in the War of 1812, said Willison, and John Millan's widow lived in the house until an hour before the Battle of Bull Run began. She left, and an hour after that, Union troops occupied the house. The Oakley House was used as a hospital and headquarters for Confederate Maj. Gen. J.E.B Stuart. John Quincy Marr, the first Confederate soldier to die in the Civil War, spent his last night in the Oakley House, Willison said.
Vernella Johnson, described the Legato School, built in 1877 on a two-acre plot purchased for $36.82 at the intersection of Pender and Legato Roads. The name Legato came from a piano tuner who worked at the one-room schoolhouse, which served first through eighth grades until 1930.
Audience members came up with about 10 names, some taking into account the history of the area and others not. Aside from Eagle View, Coretta Scott King and Albert Einstein, community members also suggested "Legato Elementary," "Monument Hill Elementary" and "Monument Ridge Elementary" after nearby Monument Road, "Patriot Elementary," "Rosa Parks Elementary" after the civil rights leader who died last fall, "Ox Hill Elementary" after the Civil War Battle of Ox Hill fought in the area, and "Hunter Elementary," after the Hunter Lodge, a country-western bar where musicians such as Johnny Cash and Patsy Cline once played.
TEACHERS HAVE ALREADY begun thinking of mascot names having to do with eagles, said Carol Puckett, who will begin teaching at the new school in September. According to new principal Deborah Tyler, students at the new school's feeder schools will vote on the new mascot and colors.
"We're already thinking about the 'Eaglets' or something," said Puckett. "We'll let the kids vote."
"Eagles are powerful birds," said Rita Hemming, the new school counselor. "Smart birds, like the kids."
"I love it," said Tyler of the chosen name. "And I love the fact that it came from a child."
Tyler is looking forward to her new job at the school, which she is taking on after 18 years as a teacher, assistant principal and then principal at Pine Springs Elementary School in Falls Church.
"When I was first named principal in September, I was so welcomed," she said. The opportunity to start a new school is one of the highest honors a principal can receive, she said.
In anticipation of the school's July move-in date, most of Tyler's time has been spent surveying the site, looking at the plans and equipment guidelines, and hiring staff for September.
Teachers feel excited about the new school, even though they do not know what to expect. "It's almost like a blindfolded excitement," said teacher Mat Clampet. The new school will employ all new technology, such as interactive white boards and laptops for students, said Tyler.