Although students won’t walk through their doors until fall 2021, the School Board this week will begin consideration of proposed names for the county’s next two elementary schools.
The name recommendations were made by community committees appointed by the School Board in October.
The top choice for the school currently designated at ES-23 in the Arcola Center development off Evergreen Mills Road isArcola Spring Elementary School. The name is intended to link the school to the nearby historic village of Arcola and to highlight the importance of the Gum Spring, a small spring that fed into the Broad Run and fueled the operations of the community’s distillery, kiln, and small church during the Colonial era.
“The ‘Arcola Spring’ name combination preserves the historic nature of the area while also recognizing that a spring sustains and brings forth life. In education, Loudoun promotes life-long learning with an eye on the historic contributions of those who have gone before us. Arcola Spring Elementary School will bring history and an eye toward the future in this area of the county,” according to the committee’s recommendation. The committee also suggested Gum Spring Elementary School as an alternate.
For ES-29, which will be built on the Lightridge High School campus along Lightridge Farm Road, a separate naming committee recommended Manahoac Elementary School. The name highlights the small group of Siouan-speaking Native Americans who lived in the area at the time of European contact. According to the report, the Manahoac occupied the valley along the Rappahannock River fall line to the Blue Ridge. The Manahoac confederacy of Virginia consisted of approximately 1,500 people in a dozen tribes.
The committee listed as its second choice as Hovatter Elementary School, named for the family that farmed the 151-acre property. According to the report, the name would be used to help students understand Loudoun’s rich agricultural history, as well as the story of how a military family lived in the 1980s. “This specific family and farm will not be something the children attending the elementary school can learn about from internet searches; this is a story that has been passed down from the remaining brothers,” according to the recommendation. “Naming the school ‘Hovatter Elementary School’ will allow the future students to know a part of history that many of their grandparents and great grandparents may have experienced, and one that happened below their school’s floors. This would be a great honor to the family and all of the farmers in Virginia.”
Both committees proposed the same name as their third choice: Elaine E. Thompson Elementary School.
Thompson was a life-long Loudoun County resident and influential community leader. Particularly noteworthy was her decision to donate her great-great-great grandfather’s “freedom papers” to the National Museum of African American History and Culture. Thompson died in 2016.
“Her character exemplified what a community public school strives to be, inspirational; she was an influential leader, a model of achievement, and a champion of social justice,” according to the recommendations. “Naming a school after her would inspire and empower students to achieve and become active contributors to our county and the world.”
The School Board is expected to select names for the schools on Jan. 14. Under its policies, the board is not bound by the committees’ recommendations.