The history of Centreville Elementary School begins shortly after the founding of Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS) in 1870. The first known evidence of a public school in Centreville comes from Milton Dulaney Hall, a man who served as superintendent of FCPS from 1886 to 1929. In an oral history, Hall recounted that he began his teaching career with FCPS in 1873 at the Centreville School, a one-room schoolhouse that resembled a small log cabin.
In 1877, Benjamin Spindle sold one-half acre of land in the village of Centreville to the Centreville District School Board for a school site, and a one-room schoolhouse opened the following year.
In 1915, the one-room Centreville School was replaced by the three-room structure pictured below. The new building was heated by wood-burning stoves and used oil lamps for light at night. Water was drawn from a well and the bathroom facilities consisted of separate outhouses for boys and girls.
In 1934, the Fairfax County School Board purchased an additional acre adjoining the original half-acre parcel and construction began on a new Centreville Elementary School. The first section of the building opened in 1935 and was built with funding from the federal government’s Public Works Administration. The school was a brick structure with three classrooms and a principal’s office, indoor bathrooms, drinking fountains, and electric lights. There were 134 students enrolled in grades 1 through 7. 1st grade students remained in the 1915 building, while the other grades were taught in the new brick building.
The cast iron bell in front of our school comes from the old three-room Centreville Elementary School. Teachers used the bell to ring in the start of each school day. The bell was purchased in the 1920s with funding raised by students who staged evening performances of music and plays. The bell was shipped to Clifton by train and brought to Centreville either by horse and buggy or a Model T automobile. When Centreville Elementary School moved to its present site in 1994, so did the bell and the memories it invokes of days gone by.
The Baby Boom
In 1948, the three-room frame building was demolished to make way for a four-classroom addition to the new brick building. The first school lunch facilities were also constructed at that time. This addition increased the teaching staff to eight, with 320 students enrolled. The post-World War II baby boom led to significant overcrowding at Centreville and necessitated the construction of more classrooms in 1951, 1955, and 1965. The 1965 addition also included a library, school office, cafeteria extension, and health clinic. Enrollment reached 611 students in 1968. During the 1970s, physical education and music teachers became a part of the teaching staff. Existing classroom spaces were used for P.E. and music until 1979 when a gymnasium and music room were constructed.
From the founding of FCPS in 1870 until the early 1960s, public schools in Fairfax County were segregated by race. Desegregation was a slow process beginning with pupil placement where the parents of African-American children had to apply to have their children assigned to a school for white children located closer to their home. Centreville Elementary School originally served only the white community in the Centreville area, but that finally changed during the 1963-64 school year when one African-American child was admitted to Centreville. The following year, four more African-American children were admitted to Centreville. All racially segregated public schools in Fairfax County were closed at the end of the 1965-66 school year.
A New Beginning
By the late 1980s, plans were underway to build a new elementary school south of Centreville on what was called the Green Trails site. In 1992, the V. F. Pavone Construction Company was awarded the construction contract for the school in the amount of $6,850,000. This was a far cry from the $21,617 paid to the C. M. Buchanan Construction Company during the Great Depression to build the first brick Centreville Elementary School. In May 1994, the Fairfax County School Board officially named the school at the Green Trails site Centreville Elementary School. Our new building opened the following September with approximately 800 students enrolled. The old Centreville Elementary building was used for one year by Deer Park Elementary School while their building was under construction, and then was converted into Mountain View High School.
Centreville Elementary School Through the Years
In more recent history, Centreville Elementary School has been the recipient of several awards related to our environmental stewardship efforts. In June 2012, the Audubon Naturalist Society recognized Centreville Elementary with a Green Citizenship Award. Centreville received ENERGY STAR recognition in 2015. Our school has also received three Eco-Schools USA Green Flags; in 2012-13, 2014-15, and 2016-17. A Green Flag is the highest honor awarded by the National Wildlife Federation (NWF) to schools that combine the effective green management of school grounds, facilities, and curriculum to empower students for a sustainable tomorrow. Centreville was also named one of the Top 10 Green Schools in the Nation by the NWF. In May 2016, our school was given an award by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for our participation in an Earth Day competition. Centreville has served as a model school for our school district, and other counties. We have visitors on a regular basis who come to tour our gardens, observe our students in their outdoor classrooms, and to meet with our Environmental Specialist to learn about lesson design using the environment.
What's in a Name?
Learn about the origin of our school's name in this video produced for Fairfax County Public Schools’ cable television channel Red Apple 21.
Principals of Centreville Elementary School
Milton Dulaney Hall (1873-?), W. H. Lamb (1923-1924), Blanche Layne (1924-1927), Nancy Steffey Falls (1927-1930), Margaret Jeffries (1930-1931), James Bauserman (1931-1933), Edythe R. Newman (1933-1934), Charles H. Price (1934-1936), Anne R. Sanford (1936-1938), Harry W. McCarey (1938-1940), Billye M. Miley (1940-1942), Zella Cox Keys (1942-1955), Leon C. Edwards (1955-1963), Susan M. Stuart (Acting, 1963), Herman Keith, Jr. (1963-1968), Mary Hope Stowers Worley (1968-1970), Shelton T. Belsches (1970-1978), Talicia C. Smoot (1978-1979), Nancy F. Roberson (1979-1982), Dwight L. Smith (1982-1987), Gregory J. Lock, Jr. (1987-1991), Susan D. Kane (1991-1998), James Latt (1998-2007), Dwayne Young (2007-2017), Joshua Douds (2017-Present).