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Dale City Elementary School ready to celebrate 50 years

DALE CITY — Dale City Elementary School was the first public school in Dale City.

It opened in 1967, and parents, teachers, students, and staff on Oct. 20 will mark the school’s 50th anniversary.

Patricia Shomo, an ESOL teacher at the elementary school, told us:

“We’ve got we have a lot of things planned. In fact, during the day they’re going to be two different celebrations. During the day, is going to be for the parents and the children and the current students.

We’re setting up a very large timeline. That timeline is going to have Dale City events and everything important that has happened to Dale City. Pictures of the kids. I found some pictures from 1967. A lot of the old retired teachers have brought a lot of things a lot of pictures, and so I’ve been busy scanning those and making collages and things like that…it’s going to be a large timeline integrating daily events with world events and pop culture.

We have a gentleman bringing one of the first personal computers so the kids can play on that. We have a gentleman from the Virginia Telephone Museum…and he’s going to bring television, telephone, record player. Everything entertainment from 1967 and you had a demonstration. And with his iPhone, he is going to demonstrate how all of that is now in this (pointing to her smartphone).”

Dale City Elementary School started with a small student population and blossomed in no time.

Principal Cindy Crowe-Miller:

“The school that actually opened in spring of 1967, in April, with 50 kids. By the time the next fall opened it was up to hundreds and hundreds…it was the first public school in Dale City area, and it grew exponentially.

But it was back then, and it still is now, truly a neighborhood school. We’re one of the smaller schools in Prince William with only two buses, so it’s generally a “walking” school.”

With a student population of 470, Dale City Elementary School is smaller than other nearby schools Bel Air and Neabsco Elementary schools that boast 700 or more students.”

Over the years, the demographics at the school have changed.


“…the school opened in 1967 and a lot of people were moving to Fort Belvoir, a lot of veterans came to this area were signed to Fort Belvoir, so they built all these smaller homes, and it was very much a more of a white middle-class community back then. So it’s changed through the years. But it’s there’s still a lot of the old sense of…the core community still is here.”

Today, about 75 percent of the school students receive free or reduced student lunches. Shomo, who has done much of the research and planning for the school’s 50th-anniversary celebration, is one of five English as Second Language teachers that work at the school.

Many of the parents of Dale City Elementary students don’t work regular nine to five jobs, but rather two to three jobs, at all hours of the day. That has made it nearly impossible for the school to recruit parent volunteers, or to maintain a Parent-Teacher Organization.

However, parents still play a role in the success of this school.


“We want the parents in the school no matter what. So now we schedule things during the day for them to come in and watch their children perform, or be part of the school. We don’t have nighttime events as much because it’s harder for them because they don’t have babysitters, they don’t have a lot of families around… our biggest challenge is having the parents feel really part of the school, and to invest in the child’s education in a way that we all we want.”

A time capsule that will include items from students and teachers to be opened at the school’s 100th anniversary event — to include an iPad with saved photos of the school, and instructions on how to operate it in case no one knows how to use an iPad in 50 years — will be buried during the celebration. A special 50th Anniversary Facebook page is being used to chronicle the anniversary events.

The event open to the public, to include area elected officials, will take place Oct. 20 from 5 to 7. Parents, teachers, and students will celebrate throughout the day before the evening event.

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