Board Names New School for Loudoun Community Leader, Historian

Moments after approving a resolution highlighting the importance of Black History Month, the School Board voted unanimously Tuesday night to name one of the county’s newest schools in honor of Elaine E. Thompson.

Thompson was a native of Loudoun County and longtime Hamilton resident who served as an educator, historian and writer. She was a founding member of the Balch Library’s Black History Committee.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.

The appointed school naming committee had recommended naming ES-23 in the Arcola Center development off Evergreen Mills Road isArcola Spring Elementary School.

Ian Serotkin (Blue Ridge) made the motion to name the school in Thomson’s honor. He noted that there were concerns, even from the principal and staff at the nearby Arcola Elementary School, that the name would create confusion.

“We have a cornucopia of schools named after corners and groves and trails and brooks and bridges and ridges and springs and rivers and pools and bluffs and landings and creeks,” Serotkin said. “I feel we would be well served to pick names that are in line with our mission statement of naming schools after individuals who have made meaningful contributions to the world.”

Jeff Morse (Dulles) noted it would be the second Loudoun school named in honor of a black female community leader and educator. The other is Rosa Lee Carter Elementary School in Ashburn.

The School Board also opted not to adopt the name recommended forES-29, which will be built on the Lightridge High School campus along Lightridge Farm Road. That panel recommended Manahoac Elementary School to highlight the small group of Siouan-speaking NativeAmericanswho lived in the area at the time of European contact.

On the motion of Beth Barts (Leesburg) the School Board went with the committee’s second choice, Hovatter Elementary School, named for the family that farmed the 151-acre property starting in the 1950s. 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.”

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