With songs, speeches and even kazoos, Centreville Elementary celebrated its 10th anniversary last week in a big way. The school held a rededication ceremony in the afternoon and a community reception in the evening.
But the events only marked Centreville's most recent decade — the 10 years it's been in its current location on Green Trails Boulevard, off Route 28.
"THERE'S A lot of history at CES, and it doesn't go back just 10 years," said Principal Jim Latt during the afternoon affair, last Thursday, Dec. 2. "It goes all the way back to 1877 when Benjamin J. Spindle sold a half-acre of land to Fairfax County to build a one-room school in Centreville."
The school opened its doors in 1878, and it wasn't until 1915 that it was replaced by a three-room building heated by a wood stove. There were no lights, but students performed evening programs illuminated by oil lamps. Proceeds from these programs purchased the school bell.
Last Thursday, Pat Darr — whose great-great-uncle was Spindle, also of the famed Mosby's Rangers — rang that bell 10 times to commemorate the anniversary.
Afterward, Centreville Elementary alumnus Paige Williams — who attended the ceremony with her mother Marva — pointed at the names inscribed on the fund-raising bricks at the base of the bell and noted that most of them, like her, are now seniors at Centreville High.
The day's festivities began with Latt and Assistant Principal Janie Kashuba leading the Pledge of Allegiance. Then fifth-grader Alexis Acar sang "The Star-Spangled Banner" and counselor Jennifer Chapman sang "America the Beautiful." PTA president Karyn Cram congratulated the school on its milestone, while Susan Kane — who was principal from 1992-1998 and was the first principal at the current location — looked on.
THEN LATT introduced Corey Spriggs, whose two children, second-grader Corey II, 8, and sixth-grader Chantal, 11, attend Centreville Elementary. Two days earlier, Spriggs had walked into Latt's office and presented him and the school with an American flag that had been flown for CES, June 1, in Afghanistan.
Spriggs was there for a year as a contractor, and the flag graced a FLASH 70, C-130H aircraft during Operation Enduring Freedom. Said Latt: "It's a very special gift to celebrate our 10th year."
The school chorus sang a rousing rendition of "We All Celebrate," describing the many things the students celebrate in their school and community, and then SCA president Justin Melnyk, a sixth-grader, recited Centreville's Learner's Creed:
"I believe in myself and in my ability to 'be the best that I can be.' I will show respect for myself, my family and my community. The choices I make will support my learning and the learning of others. I will do my best this day, for this day will come no more."
Said Latt: "We are commemorating and rededicating the school to our purpose, for we are a community of learners." He then read a proclamation acknowledging that Centreville's students live by the Learner's Creed and "strive to demonstrate the core virtues of honesty, respect, responsibility, giving, self-discipline, perseverance and compassion."
He, Justin and others signed the proclamation, and Darr rang the school bell. Then the teachers sang an original, happy-birthday song to the school and played, "Happy Birthday to You" on colorful kazoos. Afterward, the fifth- and sixth-grade chorus sang "A 10-Year Celebration," written specially for the occasion by CES music teacher Jodi Navin, and everyone cheered.