When they first thought about the pond, it was pure fantasy.
They were two science teachers letting their minds race, imagining that the sole tree in the empty, grassy courtyard at Broad Run High School could be joined by a wildflower garden, a gazebo and even a pond.
Jane Schwartz and Donna Armani had watched as the area around Broad Run gave way to condominiums, four-lane roadways and new shopping centers. They were losing a natural habitat, the place they could steer students in search of animals, plants and flowers. Then they looked inside their own school, in their own courtyard.
"All we had for 20 years was that one tree," Armani said.
In the last year, the wildflower garden came to life and a wooden gazebo was built. And on Wednesday, the new pond -- lined with stones and topped with lily pads and irises -- was unveiled on the Ashburn campus.
But Jane Schwartz never saw it.
She died of breast cancer two months ago, at 51. In ceremonies last week, it became her pond, with a plaque beside it that bears her name.
Her friend said she doesn't know how Schwartz would have reacted to all the attention. "She was a very modest person," Armani said.
In that case, she would have been surprised by the reception in the school library after Wednesday's dedication. Schwartz's family -- her husband, Gregg; children, Collin and Michelle; her brother, Richard; and her parents, Alton and Penelope Paddock -- mingled with about 50 Broad Run students and staff members.
Schwartz arrived at Broad Run five years ago from Park View High School. She was a biology teacher and, with Armani, she also taught independent science research. The latter is for seniors and requires students to complete a science fair project in the first part of the year. The remainder of the curriculum is forensic science, including DNA testing and fingerprinting.
Schools officials said that she was not only a master of her subject but that she developed close relationships with many of her students.
"She was a really good teacher," said Kevin Lange, 18, who took her biology class and served on the student council when she was its faculty adviser. "But she was also more of a friend."
He said he knew Schwartz was very ill, but her death April 18 came unexpectedly for him.
"She was so ready to come back to school," said Lange, who kept in touch with her by telephone.
Broad Run Principal Edgar T. Markley said Schwartz was so devoted to teaching that she showed up at the annual two-day teacher training session before school started last August. "She knew she wasn't going to be here for the first semester, but there she was," Markley said.
Cancer prevented her from teaching this year.
Schwartz began her battle with the disease less than three years ago. After a year, she was told she was cancer-free. But her two-year checkup was not as optimistic, and eventually the cancer had spread to her lungs.
Instead of flowers at her funeral, the family asked for donations to a scholarship fund for Broad Run students. Three $500 prizes were awarded.
One scholarship winner, Adrienne Johnson of Ashburn, graduated from Broad Run in 1998. She met Schwartz on the first day of her senior year. Schwartz was Johnson's adviser on a science project that involved feeding mice protein supplements to see if they gained weight. They didn't.
"I had to store 300 mice in her room and she never complained about the smell," Johnson said. She will put her scholarship money toward a laptop computer for use at George Mason University, where she just finished her freshman year.
Armani and others at Broad Run had to work fast to complete the $4,000 pond project before the end of the school year.
A local nursery donated materials and labor. The school Parent-Teacher-Student Organization chipped in $1,000, and a mug sale for Mother's Day netted $2,000, Armani said.
Penelope Paddock said her daughter "would have been overcome by all this."
CAPTION: The pond at Broad Run High School is dedicated Wednesday in memory of science teacher Jane Schwartz, who died of breast cancer in April.
CAPTION: Gregg Schwartz offers his thanks for the project honoring his wife.