Waterford, VA (Dec. 11, 2015) – A building is just a building…
Waterford Elementary is a community.
Its students were reminded of that on Thursday, December 3rd, when the 50th anniversary of Waterford’s opening was celebrated.
“What’s wonderful is that you guys are members of a very special community,” Loudoun County Public Schools (LCPS) Superintendent Dr. Eric Williams told students, staff and alumni gathered in the school’s multi-purpose room. Williams compared the memories the students will have with those he shares with his six siblings (who remembers sleeping in the same tent with their parents on camping trips). The collective memories that the students will share in the future will be what defines their time at Waterford, Williams added.
“I could tell the minute I walked through the door that there is something different about this school,” said Principal Andrew Heironimus. He added the passion the staff puts into educating the students is unbelievable.
Heironimus said he was –politely – warned about continuing traditions such as the school play. The principal said he was fine with that because the school continues to embrace innovations in its curriculum. “There are traditions honored here, but we’re not stuck in the past.”
Heironimus said Waterford Elementary has tremendous support from its community. Former parents whose children haven’t attended the school in 20 years still regularly offer their support.
Heironimus is Waterford’s 17th principal. Four of its former principals – Sharon Ackerman (1977-80), Paul Vickers (1997-2000), Dr. Patricia Lynn (2001-2009) and Dr. Ricardy Anderson (2009-2014) – returned for the 50th anniversary celebration. Tolbert Elementary Principal Elaine Layman and Moorefield Station Principal Karen Roche, who are former Waterford teachers, also attended the ceremony.
Heironimus has another connection to Waterford: his wife, Colleen Heironimus, was once a student there. Colleen Heironimus’ picture was part of a commemorative PowerPoint. (She was Colleen Mentzer then and her husband refused to say what years she attended in a very prudent display of discretion.)
Two retired staff members, with more than 70 years of service between them, returned for the 50th anniversary. Susan Verdin, who spent her entire 40-year teaching career at Waterford (retiring in 2014) and Judy Florance, who spent 34 years as the school’s secretary (retiring in 2015) added to the celebration.
As part of the celebration, current students created an elaborate time line display that stretched around the multi-purpose room.
Student essays were read by Grace Gavlinski, Luke Malonis and Matthew Chmielewski. Grace noted one of the best things about being in a small school where everyone knows one another. “If your best friend is not in your class, it’s not the end of the world.”
Luke noted that what he likes about Waterford was recess, seeing friends “and surprisingly math.” “I guarantee that this school will make it to one hundred,” said Matthew in conclusion.