School History

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. 

Black and white photograph of Milton Dulaney Hall, who served as superintendent of Fairfax County Public Schools from 1886 to 1929. This photograph is from the late 1920s and he is seated in front of a chalkboard. He is wearing a three-piece suit and has a pocket watch on a chain tucked into his vest.
Milton Dulaney Hall, Circa 1928

 

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. This school was replaced in 1915 by a three-room structure. 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.   

Black and white photograph of the three-room Centreville Elementary School taken by the Virginia Department of Education in 1933. The building has a tin roof and windows on all sides. Concrete stairs lead up to the front door. The bell tower is not visible, but a chimney from one of the wood-burning stoves is visible on the roof line.
Centreville Elementary School, 1933, Courtesy of the Virginia Department of Education

 

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.  

Sepia-toned photograph showing an angled view of the old brick Centreville Elementary School. The building is two stories tall and has a sidewalk and concrete stairway leading to an arched entryway. The rows of windows are painted white and two children are visible, peering out from two open windows in the distance.
Centreville Elementary School, Opened in 1935

 

The Bell

2018 color photograph of the bell at its new location in front of the modern Centreville Elementary School building. The bell is set on a raised brick platform and with a bronze plaque inscribed with its history. The bell can be rung by turning the wheel attached to its right side.

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.

 

Undated color photograph of the first brick Centreville Elementary School building. The bell that used to be on the three-room schoolhouse is mounted on a brick platform in front of the main entrance.
Centreville Elementary School, Undated 35mm Slide Photograph

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.

Integration

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. These children would have previously attended the all African-American Eleven Oaks Elementary School in Fairfax City. In September 1965, all public schools in Fairfax County fully integrated, marking the beginnings of the ethnically and culturally diverse Centreville Elementary school community we know today.

Black and white photograph of a portion of a page from Centreville’s 1964 to 1965 yearbook. Two teachers, male and female, are in the top right corner. On the left is a three by three grouping of student portraits. Eight 3rd grade students are pictured, three are girls and five are boys. All are Caucasian except for the boy in the middle who is African-American.
Centreville Elementary School Yearbook, 1964-65

 

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.    

A yellowed newspaper clipping from 1994 when Centreville Elementary School moved to its present location. On the right of the article is a photograph of the main entrance. The text on the left reads: Old School Moves To New Location. The text is partially cut off. Its starts with… has hired 15 new teachers on a staff of 50. The newly hired teachers include those who will work with the physically disabled program which is beginning at Centreville Elementary this year. There has been a lot of planning already, Kane said, adding that she and her staff worked extensively with floor plans last spring. It’s a process I’ve watched very carefully and enjoyed thoroughly, Kane said. Kane is Susan Kane, then principal of the school.

 

Glimpses of Centreville Elementary School

Going Green

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.   

Our Principals

1873-?: Milton Dulaney Hall

1931-35: James Bauserman

1935-36: Charles Price

1936-39: Ann Sanford

1939-40: Harry McCarey

1940-42: Mrs. Miley

1942-54: Zella Keyes

1954-63: Leon Edwards

1963-64: Susan Stuart

1964-68: Herman Keith

1968-70: Mary Stowers Worley

1970-78: Shelton Belsches

1978-79: Talicia Smoot

1979-82: Nancy Roberson

1982-?: Dwight L. Smith

1992-98: Susan Kane

1998-2007: James Latt

2007-17: Dwayne Young

2017-Present: Joshua Douds

 

Learn about the origin of the name Centreville in this What's in a Name? video about Centreville High School.