School History

Forestville Elementary School was established in September 1980. Construction of the school was not complete at that time, so students were housed at Lake Anne and Great Falls elementary schools for the first half of the school year. Forestville opened its doors to students for the first time on Tuesday, January 13, 1981.

Forestville Elementary School children were together for the first time all school year this week as they moved into their new building. Students in grades 3-6 began classes in the new building Tuesday, with students in grades K-2 moving to the school yesterday. Although the school was ready for occupation last Thursday, Principal Carole Sudduth postponed the move to finalize inspection reports and to allow telephone service to be fully installed. Late last week, almost every corner of the building was ready for the influx of students, with walls boasting bright-colored bulletin boards and knee-high desks arranged tidily in each classroom. A library aide arranged books on shelves, but otherwise, the school was filled with an air of readiness and anticipation.
~ The Reston Times, January 15, 1981
First grade class portrait from the 1980 to 1981 school year. 25 students and one teacher are shown.
Forestville Elementary School, 1st grade class portrait, 1980-81.

What's in a Name?

Forestville Elementary School was modeled after the plans used for Clearview and Fox Mill elementary schools. Construction began in August 1979, when the Fairfax County School Board awarded the project contract to L. F. Jennings, Inc., in the amount of $2.9 million. During construction, Forestville Elementary School's name was "Great Falls # 2." In March 1980, community meetings were held to determine the name for the new school, and area residents strongly supported the name Forestville. Forestville was the preferred choice because four previous schools, and the Great Falls area itself, were once named Forestville. You can learn more about the historic schools of the Forestville community on the Great Falls Elementary School website.

The First Years

Forestville Elementary School was formally dedicated at a ceremony in May 1981. Originally, our school had 21 classrooms. The classrooms were separated into pods, with seven rooms in each pod. The pods were named the Dell, the Glen, and the Vale. Classrooms for children in kindergarten and first grade, and some second graders, were located in the Dell. Children in grades 2-4 were taught in the Vale, and fifth and sixth grade classrooms were located in the Glen.

Kindergarten class portrait from the 1980 to 1981 school year. 23 students and two teachers are shown.
Forestville Elementary School, kindergarten class portrait, 1980-81.
It all started in kindergarten when we would fight over the yellow play telephone. Looking back at the Dell, I still can't believe I was once there myself. I was so proud every time I learned a new number or word. I have loved all my teachers through the years. I was so excited when I first heard that our school had just gotten new computers. I looked forward to being in sixth grade, and I always wanted to be a patrol.
~ Written by alumna Nicole Schmitz in 1986-87.

The opening enrollment at Forestville was approximately 420 students. Over the next ten years, Forestville would become home to students bound for Armstrong Elementary and Dranesville Elementary, which opened in 1986 and 1988 respectively. In December 1989, after enrollment at Forestville had climbed to more than 600 students, construction began on a fourth pod, adding six more classrooms to the rear of the building.

Aerial photograph of Forestville Elementary School. The building is seen from a vantage point above Utterback Store Road, looking east. Several trailers and modular buildings are visible around the school. A portion of the rear of the building has been highlighted with a red outline.
Forestville Elementary School, February 22, 2016. The fourth pod is highlighted in red.
I remember Pioneer Days. I made candles, a leather bracelet, and peanut brittle that was disgusting. I remember going to Day Quest at Madeira School (an annual field trip for fifth graders where students participated in team building exercises). I especially remember Field Day when our class bombarded the other class with water balloons. We even got to splatter our teachers. I remember the sixth grade play, Sis Boom Bah. I was a football player. Most of all I'll remember the friends I've made at Forestville.
~ Written by alumni Geofferey Cook in 1987-88.

Fun Fact

Do you know why Forestville’s mascot is a cardinal? Our mascot was chosen by our first principal, Carole Sudduth Taylor. One day, when visiting our school site while the building was still under construction, she spotted a cardinal in a tree on the grounds. The sight of that beautiful red bird was the inspiration for our mascot.

Photographs of three yearbook covers, 1989 to 1990, 2013 to 2014, and 2015 to 2016. All three covers feature student-drawn artwork of the school mascot. The first cover is in black and white and is a simple line drawing. The new covers are in color and are elaborate colored pencil drawings.
Forestville Elementary School yearbook covers (1989-90, left; 2013-14, center; and 2015-16, right). Student-drawn artwork of our mascot has been featured on yearbook covers for several decades. Over time, as the cost of color printing decreased, the cover artwork became more elaborate.

The 1990s

During Forestville's second decade, enrollment steadily increased every year. By the late 1990s, Forestville was significantly over capacity and six trailers were brought in to relieve overcrowding. However, it quickly became apparent that six trailers were not enough.

Mrs. Hancock's class portrait from the 1991 to 1992 school year. 20 students and one teacher are shown.
Mrs. Hancock's 1st grade class, 1991-92.

In the summer of 2000, a modular complex was purchased for Forestville. The modular complex consisted of eight classrooms and had bathroom facilities. Overcrowding eased with the opening of Colvin Run Elementary School in 2003.

Photograph of students arriving at the start of the school day at Forestville. School buses are parked along the sidewalk in front of the building, and children are walking toward the front doors of the school.
Forestville Elementary School, 1992-93.

A Glimpse Back in Time

In February 1998, Forestville Elementary School was the subject of the Fairfax County Public Schools cable television channel series Profile. The Red Apple 21 crew spent several days at Forestville, gathering interviews with teachers and classroom footage. The resulting 30-minute documentary provides a fascinating snapshot of Forestville in the late-1990s.


In more recent history, the first building-wide renewal of Forestville Elementary School began construction in the spring of 2016. In March of that year, the Fairfax County School Board awarded a $14 million renewal contract to Hess Construction and Engineering Services, Inc. The project was completed in 2018.

Forestville's Aquatic Champion

Did you know that Olympic swimmer Kate Ziegler was a former Forestville Elementary School student?

Two photographs of Kate Ziegler. On the left is a picture of her from a Forestville Elementary School yearbook. On the right is a picture of her wearing a U.S. Olympic Team jacket, and several gold medals.

To-date, Ms. Ziegler has won a total of fifteen medals in major international swimming competitions, such as the World Aquatics and Pan Pacific Championships. In 2008, Ms. Ziegler qualified for the United States Olympic Team after placing second in the 400-meter and 800-meter freestyle events. During the 2012 Summer Olympics in London, Ms. Ziegler competed for the United States in the 800-meter freestyle event. Today, in addition to competitive swimming, Kate Ziegler has a successful career as a mental training expert and motivational speaker.

Ajax and Hercules

Here's a neat fact about our area: During the Cold War, several Nike anti-aircraft missile sites were built in a ring around Washington, D.C. to defended the nation's capital from an attack by the Soviet Union. Three of these sites were located in Fairfax County, including one at Great Falls. The Great Falls Nike missile site was operated by the U.S. Army between 1954 and 1962. Both Nike-Ajax and Nike-Hercules missiles were positioned on above-ground launchers at the Great Falls site.

Color photograph of three types of Nike missiles on launchers.
Nike-Ajax, Nike-Hercules, and Nike-Zeus missiles. Photograph courtesy of the United States Army.

Today, Forestville Elementary School occupies a portion of the land used by the Army for the launch site. The tennis courts in the park behind our school were built on the spot where twelve missile launchers once stood. When the missile site was active, the buildings at Turner Farm Park on Springvale Road were used as radar towers. 

Our Principals

Carole Sudduth Taylor (1980-1990)

Black and white, head-and-shoulders photograph of Principal Sudduth Taylor from the 1986 to 1987 Forestville yearbook. She is posing for the picture in front of the school.
Carole Scruggs Sudduth was the first principal of Forestville Elementary School. She married in 1984, and her last name changed to Taylor. Prior to her appointment to Forestville, Mrs. Taylor had been the principal of Churchill Road Elementary School from 1975-80.

David W. Kulp (1990-2002)

Photograph of Principal Kulp with three students taken during the 1992 to 1993 school year. They are posing for the picture in his office.
David Kulp first came to Forestville in 1980-81, and served as a fifth grade teacher and assistant principal before being appointed school principal in 1990. During his principalship, the character education program, CARE, became an integral part of the Forestville curriculum. Principal Kulp retired in June 2001, but returned for additional year until a replacement could be found. Our school library is named in his honor.  

Peggy Dammeyer (2002-2003)

Head-and-shoulders portrait of Principal Dammeyer taken during the 2002 to 2003 school year.
Principal Dammeyer led Forestville from 2002 to the fall of 2003. She is currently the principal of Stenwood Elementary School near Merrifield.

David L. Meadows (Interim, 2003)

Head-and-shoulders portrait of Principal Meadows taken during the fall of 2003.
After the departure of Principal Dammeyer, David Meadows was appointed interim principal of Forestville. Prior to coming to Forestville, Mr. Meadows had been a  principal at Marshall Road Elementary School from 1986 to 2000.

Matt Harris (2004-2013)

Head-and-shoulders portrait of Principal Harris taken during the 2003 to 2004 school year.
Matt Harris became principal of Forestville in January 2004.

Todd Franklin (2013-2019)

Photograph of Principal Franklin with four students, taken in 2014. Mr. Franklin and one of the students are holding up a book about Honor Flights. They are posing for the picture in the library.
Todd Franklin served as an assistant principal at Cooper Middle School prior to his appointment to Forestville. After his departure, Assistant Principal Marietta Arbach served briefly as acting principal until September 2019.

Donald Washington (2019-Present)

Head and shoulders portrait of Principal Washington.
Donald Washington became principal of Forestville Elementary School on September 30, 2019.