School History

Fort Hunt Elementary School opened its doors to students in the fall of 1969. Construction of our school was incomplete before the start of school in September, so students were temporarily housed at Stratford Landing and Hollin Hills elementary schools. Approximately 406 children were enrolled at Fort Hunt on opening day.

Black and white photograph taken during the early stages of construction of Fort Hunt Elementary School. The brick exterior walls are being built, and are approximately chest high. Construction materials, a trailer, a large fork lift, and several workmen are visible in the distance.
Fort Hunt Elementary School during construction, 1969.

Fort Hunt Elementary School was designed in 1968 by architect William Peake of the firm Spector, Peake, and Howell, and was built by the Burroughs & Preston Construction Company at a cost of $1.1 million. Our school originally had a capacity for approximately 650 students. Fort Hunt’s first principal was Eleanor Hollandsworth. She worked closely with Mr. Peake planning our school, which was one of the first in Fairfax County to introduce the “pod” concept. Originally, the classrooms in this design were “open” and promoted “team teaching.” In the late 1960s, these were terms being introduced in the education field as the upcoming trend. From its inception, Fort Hunt was forward-thinking in design and philosophy.

Photograph of the cover of Fort Hunt Elementary School’s 1974 to 1975 yearbook. The orange-colored cover has an illustration of our school at the top, and the words Fort Hunt Elementary, 74-75, Yearbook printed in black ink beneath it.
This 1974-75 yearbook was shared by Fort Hunt staff member Debbie Trenchard. She attended school here as a child. This yearbook is about half the size of the yearbooks we print today, in terms of both its physical size and the number of students pictured.  

River Farm

Fort Hunt Elementary School was built on land that was once part of River Farm, one of five farms that comprised President George Washington's Mount Vernon Estate. Pictured below is a portion of a map of Mount Vernon drawn by George Washington in 1793. The schoolhouse icon shows the present day location of Fort Hunt Elementary School.

The image shows a portion of George Washington's map of Mount Vernon. The entire estate was approximately 8,000 acres in size and was comprised of five separate farms. Two of these farms, Mansion House Farm and River Farm, are visible in this image. The map was drawn with iron gall ink on paper or parchment. The ink has faded to a light brown / gray color and the paper has faded to a light tan. An icon of a schoolhouse has been placed on the map, showing Fort Hunt Elementary School was located on River Farm on an 84 acre tract Washington used for orchards and grass.
Fort Hunt Elementary School is located on land that was once part of an 84 acre tract where President Washington planted fruit orchards. Map courtesy of the Mount Vernon Ladies' Association.

A Tragic Sunday

On Sunday, October 3, 1971, arsonists broke into Fort Hunt Elementary School and set fires in the library and an open classroom learning center. The fire destroyed the library and spread to nearby classrooms, causing extensive smoke damage to much of the building. Only the kindergarten and first grade classrooms were spared. The 707 students enrolled at Fort Hunt that year spent the remainder of the school year largely separated from one another. Children in kindergarten and first grade returned to class in the undamaged part of the building on Tuesday, October 5, 1971, but children in grades 2-6 were split up and sent to Belle View, Stratford Landing, and Waynewood elementary schools. Repair work began in October, and was completed in time for the opening of schools in September 1972.

Newspaper clipping from the Washington Post printed October 4, 1971. The headline reads: Fairfax School Hit By $300,000 Fire. Excerpt text reads: A fire of suspicious origin caused an estimated $300,000 damage to the 2-year-old Fort Hunt Elementary School in Fairfax County yesterday, fire officials reported. The school was closed and deserted at the time, fire officials said. No firemen were injured during the hour it took to contain the blaze. The fire, noticed by neighborhood children about 4:30 p.m., destroyed the school’s library, spread to nearby classrooms and caused extensive smoke damage in much of the school, officials said.
Courtesy of the Washington Post. Two months after the fire, the actual cost of damage was reported to be $462,590.

Demographic Changes

Enrollment at Fort Hunt gradually declined in the mid-1970s, falling to a low of 484 in 1977. In 1978, students formerly enrolled at Hybla Valley Elementary School living in the Janna Lee area were bused to Fort Hunt to relieve overcrowding at that school. The redistricting rebounded enrollment at Fort Hunt to approximately 650 students, but enrollment continued to decline in subsequent years, falling to a low of 370 in 1985. The decline in enrollment was driven by the changing demographics among schools in the eastern part of Fairfax County. During the post-World War II “baby boom,” the Route 1 corridor experienced a period of rapid population growth due to an influx of Federal government employees and returning veterans. During the late 1970s, the last children of the baby boom generation were graduating high school, and there were fewer families with young children in the area. This resulted in the closure of several schools during the late 1970s and early 1980s, such as Hollin Hall, Hollin Hills, Virginia Hills, and Wilton Woods elementary schools. One positive outcome of the closings and subsequent redistricting was the further diversification of Fort Hunt’s student body.

Black and white photographs of the four closed schools. Three of these schools were built in the 1950s and the fourth in the early 1960s. Hollin Hall and Virginia Hills are two-stories tall and the buildings look very similar in design. Hollin Hills and Wilton Woods are single story buildings, but Wilton Woods is a much smaller school by comparison. The front of each building, and its main entrance, are pictured in each photograph.
Hollin Hall (Top Left), Hollin Hills (Top Right), Virginia Hills (Bottom Left), and Wilton Woods elementary schools.

The Eleanor N. Hollandsworth Library

On October 11, 1984, the Fairfax County School Board formally named our library in honor of our school’s first principal, Eleanor Hollandsworth.

Black and white, head-and-shoulders staff portrait of Eleanor Hollandsworth taken in 1970.
Principal Eleanor Hollandsworth, 1970

Ms. Hollandsworth was the principal of Fort Hunt from 1969-76. She came to Fort Hunt from Stratford Landing Elementary, where she was principal from 1963-69. Principal Hollandsworth retired after 28 years in Fairfax County Public Schools, having worked as a reading teacher, elementary school teacher, principal, and an area administrator.

Mrs. Hollandsworth worked hard from the start to establish a climate at Fort Hunt that challenged children, stressed the importance of an excellent education, and respected the diversity of students and their families. She carefully selected her staff in order to provide a curriculum to encourage student achievement to its highest potential. Many staff members have bonded together, forming life-long friendships as a result of their shared experience during the past 25 years. We are challenged to uphold Mrs. Hollandsworth’s philosophy.
~Fort Hunt 25th Anniversary Yearbook
Black and white photograph of the front exterior of Fort Hunt Elementary School from our 1988 to 1989 yearbook. The building is pictured in its original configuration before any additions had been constructed.
Fort Hunt Elementary School, 1989

Spanish Immersion and the Arts

The Spanish language partial immersion program was first offered during the 1989-90 school year on early release Mondays. In the spring of 1999, Fort Hunt Elementary School was the recipient of a planning grant from the National Foundation for the Improvement of Education and the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, to assist with integrating arts education into the curriculum. The resulting program at Fort Hunt was called Changing Education Through the Arts (CETA). Fort Hunt teachers received training at the Kennedy Center, and the Kennedy Center sent specialists, such as professional instrumentalists and conductors, to provide specialized instruction to our students. Strings, band, and art were taught once a week, and all students were afforded the opportunity to participate in music and dramatic productions. CETA made it possible for Fort Hunt to begin teaching strings in third grade and band in fourth grade. Outgrowths of the CETA program included partnerships with the Washington Opera, Mount Vernon Orchestra, and the Washington Metropolitan Philharmonic Orchestra.

Color photograph from Fort Hunt’s 1999 to 2000 yearbook showing a group of school staff known as the Senior Band. 15 staff members are pictured, most of whom are holding musical instruments. Flutes, clarinets, saxophones, and a trumpet are visible.
Another outgrowth of CETA was the “Senior Band.” School staff started a band, so that the children and teachers could learn music together.    

Renovations and Renewed Spirit

The first renovations and additions to Fort Hunt Elementary School were constructed in the 1990s. In 1990, the third grade pod and School Age Child Care classrooms were constructed at a cost of $497,722. From 1995-96, four new classrooms were built, and the library was modernized, at a cost of $575,954. The first building-wide renewal began construction in the summer of 2001, and was completed in 18 months at a cost of $6.9 million. Everything at Fort Hunt was upgraded. A new sprinkler system, new public address system, and new tile were installed throughout the school. The kitchen received new equipment, and a new computer lab was outfitted with state-of-the-art technology. Our school also gained new classrooms, a new library, a black box theatre, and a stage in the auditorium.

Composite image of two color photographs taken on July 23, 2002 showing the renovation to Fort Hunt Elementary School. On the left, construction workers are building an awning over the main entrance. On the right is a photograph of the interior of the gymnasium. It is being used as a staging area and is full of construction equipment and new furniture.
Renovation in Progress, July 23, 2002

On February 12, 2003, the Fort Hunt community gathered for a renovation celebration. A reporter from the Connection Newspaper was on hand to document the event.

Carol Coose, principal at Fort Hunt Elementary School, knows how to make lemonade out of lemons. Rather than stressing out during the 18 or so months of renovation at her school, she made the best of it. "When the second-graders were studying simple machines, we brought them outside to watch the bricks being loaded on the inclined plane," she said. She invited the contractors into class to speak about their careers and what they were doing to the building. The contractors also figured out a way to incorporate a series of student-designed tiles into the newly-laid wall. "The whole process was not as painful as we thought. We got wonderful people," said Coose.

Watch the changes to our building take shape in this animated series of aerial photographs courtesy of the Fairfax County Park Authority.

This series of aerial photographs shows Fort Hunt Elementary School from directly overhead in 1960, 1976, 1990, 1997, 2002, and 2015. The 1960 aerial is in black and white and shows the future site of the school. A farmhouse is on the future site of the parking lot and the building site is farm fields with scattered groupings of trees. The 1976 aerial shows the building after it has been repaired following the fire. It is about half the size of the building we know today. In 1990, the building looks identical to its 1976 configuration. The trees in front of the school have grown considerably. In 1997, two additional classroom spaces are visible. There was an addition to the front of the building near the main entrance, and a sizeable addition to the rear of the building at the northwest corner. In 2002, the renovation is in progress. The new library has been added to the front of the building and a new classroom section has been added to the rear of the building. Several trailers have been brought in to serve as classrooms on the south side of the building, and several construction trailers are visible behind the building. In 2015, the parking lot has been enlarged and the old main entrance walkway has been fully enclosed, and a new entrance and the new main office are visible. A large playground has been built behind the building.

What’s in a Name?

Fort Hunt Elementary School takes its name from a former military installation located nearby along the Potomac River. Learn about the history of the fort, and the man for whom it’s named, in this video produced for Fairfax County Public Schools’ cable television channel Red Apple 21.

Frogs, Ferrets, and Foxes

Did you know that before the year 2000 we were known as the Fort Hunt Patriots instead of the Fort Hunt Foxes? The Patriot mascot was a musket-carrying American Revolutionary War figure. Our current mascot was chosen by the S.C.A. from a list of several alliterative animal names, such as frog and ferret. Several years later a school-wide competition was held to name our mascot, and the winning entry was Artie Z. Fox.

Photograph of the stained glass art depicting Fort Hunt’s fox mascot. An orange, red, and white colored fox is pictured against a green background of rolling hills and trees. The piece is circular in shape and is held in a dark wooden frame.
This stained glass art that hangs in our library window was made by Principal Carol Coose’s husband.


Fort Hunt Elementary School has several long-standing school traditions, such as the annual talent show which dates back to at least the 1980s and perhaps earlier. The flag planting ceremony held during our annual Veterans Day observance began in the 1990s. This tradition was started by Principal Carol Coose and Mr. Bill, a World War II veteran and Fort Hunt Elementary crossing guard. On Veterans Day, Mr. Bill would visit our school and speak with students about his military service. He suggested the idea for the flag planting ceremony and organized donations to ensure that every Fort Hunt student would be able to participate. Mr. Bill passed away in 2017.

Color photograph of Principal Coose and Mr. Bill from our 2004 to 2005 yearbook. They are standing in front of our school with the neighborhood visible behind them. Mr. Bill is wearing his school crossing guard jacket and hat.
Principal Carol Coose pictured with Mr. Bill in 2005.

Our Principals

1969 – 1976: Eleanor N. Hollandsworth
1976 – 1979: Dumont J. Walker, Jr.
1979:     R. C. Bosley (Acting)
1979 – 1981: Myrna Ann (Smith) Mayo
1981 – 1986:       Maryanne Roesch
1986 – 1989: Janet Trout (Barbee)
1989 – 1991: Elva Hinajosa
1991 – 2009: Carol Coose
2009 – 2014: Barbara Leibbrandt
2014 (spring):    Janet LeBel (Interim)
2014 (spring):    Otha L. Davis (Interim)  
2014 – Present: Thomas Fitzpatrick