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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.