By Arianne Aryanpur
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, April 3, 2008
The end of a decade-long search for a bigger home was celebrated Monday as administrators, students and parents from Loudoun Country Day School broke ground for a new school at a 70-acre site off Evergreen Mills Road in Leesburg.
Under a white tent surrounded by yellow bulldozers, about 200 people, including Gov. Timothy M. Kaine (D), listened to the school's choir sing the national anthem. Headmaster Randy Hollister then addressed the crowd from behind a lectern as a light drizzle fell.
"This has been a very long time coming," Hollister said, his voice cracking.
In his remarks, Kaine praised Loudoun Country Day School's programs and said the event symbolized the investment that Loudoun residents have made in schools countywide.
"This is known statewide as a community that values education," he said.
Officials at the 55-year-old private school began looking for land in 1996 when they realized they were facing increasing enrollment but had no room to expand their programs or add facilities, Hollister said in an interview before the ceremony.
"We realized that we really couldn't help our school reach its potential if we remained on these eight acres," Hollister said of the school's current location on Fairview Street in Leesburg.
But it wasn't easy to find a site served by water and sewer lines and large enough to accommodate a campus. School officials looked at six parcels, including plots at Morven Park and in Purcellville, before buying the Evergreen Mills Road site in 2005.
Funding for the project will come from a $15 million capital campaign and $29 million in bonds issued by the county's Industrial Development Authority.
The first phase of construction, scheduled to be completed by fall 2009, will include a school for pre-kindergarten through eighth grade, a gym, athletic fields, tennis courts and a playground. A renovated barn will house the school's performing arts program and administrative offices.
A high school building, swimming pool, field house, and baseball and softball fields will be added later, Hollister said.
The school currently offers only pre-kindergarten through eighth grade and has about 300 students. With the addition of the high school program, enrollment is expected to reach 800, Hollister said.
That is a far cry from the school's inaugural class of seven students in 1953. In 1957, the school received 5.4 acres and a farmhouse for its current campus from Elizabeth Rust Brown. The school also received a $2 million bequest in 2004 from A.V. Symington.
Hollister said community support has allowed the school to grow.
"I'm overwhelmed as I look through the history, the administration, the faculty leadership, the phenomenal parents, the whole community and how connected we all are," Hollister said.
"This campus is the fulfillment of the vision of a great educational program that began almost 55 years ago with two teachers and seven students in one room. I find that inspiring."