The “new” George C. Marshall High School is so astonishing; it’s enough to make a senior citizen want to go back to high school.
Not only does it have a new state of the art library, it has new science, art, and business wings, and tennis courts, too, said Principal Jeff Litz, of the renovation project which has cost almost $52 million and lasted three and a half years.
Last week the school entertained representatives from the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors, the county school board, and other public figures to show off the new digs.
“I was wowed driving up today,” said Fairfax County Chairperson Sharon Bulova, in her remarks at the podium.
This is just “cutting edge stuff,” she said, mentioning the roof top garden and active efforts at Marshall to reduce energy costs.
About 100 adults and student government officers, musicians, and tour guides attended the grand re-opening where school flutists played, and the Statesmen Singers sang the “Star Spangled Banner” before officials delivered prepared remarks.
George C. Marshall High School is the only high school in the nation which bears the 1953 Nobel Prize winner’s name, Litz said.
At the event, where attendees drank punch, ate fruit, sandwiches, and a big red, white, and blue cake, Pratip Mandal smiled broadly talking about the school experiences of his daughter, Shromona, 16, a junior at Marshall.
“[Shromona] loves the school,” Mandal said, “and says it’s the most inclusive school in Fairfax County.” His daughter became “quite impressed” by all George C. Marshall’s achievements (the Marshall Plan was named after him, and he served as secretary of defense and state) which led to her dad’s being impressed, too.
She helped conduct research on Marshall (1880-1959) for the new Marshall museum at the school.
A school with a museum?
With researchers and tour guides to tell you all about it and the namesake.
While 1940s Glenn Miller music played in the background, Shromona Mandal joined classmates Otilia Lampman, 18, a senior, and Spencer Gilbert, 16, a junior, to lead museum tours.
From his study of old school board minutes, Gilbert has learned a lot about the school’s history and said student archivists hope to obtain more artifacts from the Marshall estate.
He credited Marshall’s second wife, Katherine Boyce Tupper Brown Marshall (1882-1978) who lived in Leesburg, with helping lay the groundwork for the museum. “She was quite active” at the school, he said. Marshall opened in 1962.
Meanwhile, over in the library which faces Leesburg Pike with huge windows that let natural light flow inside, Alanna S. Graboyes and Judith Watson couldn’t wait to tell visitors about the new library which has recorded 50,000 student visitors since last September.
“The students are thrilled,” said Graboyes, who quoted a senior who calls the library “‘ inspiring.'”
It has an archives room with digitized National Geographics going back to 1888 and one of the last printed copies of Encyclopedia Britannica. The archives are available for students to use for meetings and for quiet time, too, like the girl who wanted “down time” at school while she recovers from a concussion.
Near the library are the school’s gardens where Jurius Abdallah, 18, a senior, greeted guests and welcomed questions about the native species which are growing in the school’s outdoor classroom. There students are encouraging wildlife and trying to get a vegetable garden started with their spiral gardens already in place.
In 2011, 1,440 were enrolled at George C. Marshall High School, and next year’s student population is predicted to reach almost 2,000, Litz said.
Mary Pope, the PTSA president, and Mary Krafft, a PTSA hospitality volunteer, are mothers of Marshall seniors who have lived with the construction over their entire high school careers.
It’s a “small school [with a] big heart, we like to say,” said Krafft, whose son, Trevor, a freshman, will be able to attend George C. Marshall High School without construction, noise, workers, and interruptions, all which continued unabated during prior school years.
Other officials who helped cut the red, white, and blue ribbon included Linda Q. Smyth, Fairfax County Providence supervisor; Karen Garza, school superintendent; Jeffrey Platenberg, assistant superintendent; and members of the school board, Illryong Moon, Ryan McElveen (a Marshall graduate), Jane Strauss, and Penny Reed who thanked Fairfax County taxpayers for approving the bond issue which gave the go-ahead for the renovation.