Clearview Elementary School opened on September 4, 1979. Our first principal was Littell G. “Skip” McClung. On the occasion of our school’s 25th anniversary celebration in May 2004, the Connection Newspaper interviewed McClung in which he described visiting the Clearview site in February 1979 while the building was under construction:
It wasn't under roof. It was just four walls. One thing I learned from [being an administrator] at Great Falls Elementary where we underwent two major renovations, get to know the construction foreman. So I took the construction foreman and the guy from Fairfax County schools overseeing the project to lunch. From then on, anything we wanted, we got.
The above photograph, taken in late August 1979, provides an interesting glimpse into just how much work still needed to be done to the school grounds shortly before opening day. Inside the building, work on the classrooms was finished on schedule, but the cafeteria and gymnasium were not ready in time for the opening of school. Clearview’s first teachers spent Labor Day weekend readying their classrooms. Approximately 300 children walked through our doors the following Tuesday. Our school originally had 13 teachers, three classroom wings, and an open library. It was also an English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) cluster school. Children needing ESOL services were bused to Clearview, rather than attending their neighborhood school as is done today.
Design and Construction
Clearview Elementary School was designed by the architecture firm of L. B. C. & W. Associates. Our school was built by the V. F. Pavone Construction Company for $2.4 million. The first addition to Clearview was constructed in 1982 by S. & J. Associates for $525,900.
In 1986, Principal McClung was succeeded by our second principal, Bernie Gross, who led Clearview until 1989. During Gross’ last year as principal, construction began on second addition to Clearview. The new six-classroom wing became a center for pre-school children with special needs.
In 1989, Clearview’s assistant principal, Sheila Bertrand, was appointed as our school’s third principal. She served in that role for 14 years, retiring at the end of the 2002-03 school year. Throughout her time at Clearview student enrollment rose and fell several times. Bertrand stated that the opening of Dranesville and McNair elementary schools (in 1988 and 2001 respectively), and the ensuing school boundary shifts, had a significant impact on enrollment. "One year you would have 760 students and the next, 520," Bertrand stated in an interview.
The Sheila Bertrand Library
In July 2003, the Fairfax County School Board passed a resolution officially naming our library “The Sheila Bertrand Library.” This was a fitting tribute because Principal Bertrand began her career with FCPS in 1978 as a reading teacher. She described the library as “the heart of a school,” and believed that reading was the fundamental skill that underlies all learning. “If you can teach a child to read, then that child will succeed,” she said.
Stories from Clearview
Clearview has a way of attracting, and retaining dedicated staff, many of whom were parents who began volunteering when their children were students then stayed on in staff positions. There have been a bunch of us that have left and come back. I started out in 1989 as a parent of a first-grader. Then I taught third grade here, went to Herndon Middle School and came back three years ago. You just return. It's one of the most supportive communities you can work with.
~ Suzi Powell, Former Assistant Principal.
Clearview Elementary School was built on land that was formerly a part of Folly Lick Farm owned by the Young family. Our school is located mid-way between two historic African-American enclaves: Oak Grove (located west of Herndon on the border with Loudoun County), and Cooktown (located north of Herndon at the end of Monroe Street). Cooktown was named for Frederick Cook, the first African-American to buy land in that area in 1893. The Oak Grove community straddled the county line. During the era of segregated schools in Virginia, Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS) operated a one-room schoolhouse at Oak Grove. To learn more about the Oak Grove School, watch this video produced for FCPS cable television channel Red Apple 21.