School History

Hunters Woods Elementary School opened on September 2, 1969, with 19 teachers and 612 students. Our first principal was O. Stuart Chaplain, Jr. Hunters Woods was only partially completed when it opened, with just 15 of the planned 33 classrooms ready for use.

Hunters Woods opened without indoor plumbing, without half its roof, without a cafeteria, a gymnasium, playing fields, sidewalks, air conditioning and a host of other amenities. By the end of that first week, I had staff members in the office in tears, telling me they didn't think they could go on. 
~ Principal O. Stuart Chaplain, Jr.

Despite the difficulties, school staff and students adapted to these challenges and learning thrived. Construction continued throughout the 1969-70 school year and into the next fall.

Black and white photograph, taken in 1969, showing the Hunters Woods site during the earliest stage of construction. No walls are visible. The outline of the foundation is in place and there are stacks of cinderblocks waiting to be used. The dirt around the site is piled into large mounds. There are trees visible in the distance.
Hunters Woods Elementary School During Construction, 1969

As originally designed, Hunters Woods had a total capacity for 990 students. By June 1970, enrollment at Hunters Woods had jumped to 912 students. Our school began its second year with 33 teachers and approximately 1,000 students and ended the school year in June with 1,306 children enrolled. Rapid student enrollment growth was driven by the continued development of Reston which drew many families with young children to the area. School-age population growth led to the opening of four elementary schools in Reston in the 1970s: Forest Edge in 1971, Dogwood in 1974, Terraset in 1977, and Sunrise Valley in 1979.

Black and white photograph of the front of Hunters Woods Elementary School that appeared in our 1975 to 1976 yearbook. The photographer is standing on the sidewalk next to Colts Neck Road and is looking up the hill toward the school. Several young trees have been planted on the grounds and a row of cars is parked in front of the building along the driveway loop.
Yearbook Photograph of Hunters Woods Elementary School, 1976

An Open School

During the 1960s and 1970s, an educational philosophy called “open schools” became very popular among educators. Most of the new elementary schools built in Fairfax County during this era, including Hunters Woods, were designed as open schools. Open school classrooms were built without doors and were clustered around "pods" that could be divided with moveable partitions into separate learning areas. Principal Chaplain described it best:

The school is divided into several learning areas where a group of classes share space. Teachers work as teams with children grouped according to their differing abilities. There are also some closed classrooms where teachers work with small groups of learning disabled students.

Open schools gradually fell out of favor and the open classrooms at Hunters Woods were enclosed during a subsequent renovation. 

Photograph of a sweatshirt donated to our school by a parent of a former student. The fabric is dark green in color and has an illustration of a mustang and the words Hunters Woods printed in white on the chest.
A Hunters Woods Commemorative Sweatshirt, Undated

Fun Fact

Did you know that the design for Hunters Woods Elementary School was used to construct two more elementary schools in Fairfax County? The schools were Groveton and Laurel Ridge, both of which opened in 1970. Hunters Woods was designed by the architecture firm of Caudill, Rowlett and Scott, Inc., and was built by the Jenkins Construction Company at a cost of $1.2 million, a hefty sum in 1969. 

Black and white photograph of the original main entrance to Hunters Woods. It comes from our 1990 to 1991 yearbook. There are three sets of doors, and a banner is hung above the middle door. It is printed with a graphic representation of the Earth and has text that reads: Many Nations – One World.
The original main entrance to Hunters Woods. The main office was moved to the second floor during our renovation in the early 2000s. 

Pioneers and Champions

During the 1970s, as immigrants from Southeast Asia and later Central America began to arrive in Fairfax County, Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS) began to offer specialized instruction to meet the needs of these children. Today, we refer to this program as English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL), but its forerunner, English as a Second Language (ESL) was pioneered at Hunters Woods in the early 1970s.

Black and white photograph of students in a hallway at Hunters Woods Elementary School. 14 children are pictured, mostly boys. Based on the clothing the children are wearing, the picture was taken around 1979 or 1980. A clock is visible in the distance. The photograph was taken at 11:40 a.m.
Hunters Woods Students, Circa 1979

In 1975 and 1976, Hunters Woods earned back-to-back Physical Fitness Champion Awards bestowed by the President's Council on Physical Fitness and Sports and became a demonstration site for the Presidential Youth Fitness Program in Virginia.

Black and white photograph of Hunters Woods Elementary School from our 1978 to 1979 yearbook.  There are three trees planted along the sidewalk in an area that will become a new main entrance to the building in 2003. The original main entrance can be seen down the hill on the left.
Hunters Woods Elementary School, 1979

An Unexpected Bonus

In 1981, Principal Chaplain left Hunters Woods and was succeeded by John W. Quaintance. Quaintance, who had previously served as the principal of Springfield Estates Elementary School, led our school until 1984. In 1984, Gioia Caiola Forman became Hunters Woods' third principal. She came to Hunters Woods from Clermont Elementary School where she had served as principal for five years. During her principalship, in 1986, a previously unknown basement was discovered at our school. The basement was built in error by our school’s builder and had been sealed off. Then FCPS Assistant Superintendent of Facilities, Al Hlavin, reported to the School Board that "because of over-excavation there was indeed a 15-foot-high rough crawl space, equaling perhaps six or eight classrooms, under the building. He suggested that only access, flooring, and ventilation systems would be required to make the space usable." And that's exactly what the School Board chose to do with the space. The new classrooms were completed during the 1987-88 school year.

Black and white yearbook photographs of principals O. Stuart Chaplain, Jr., John W. Quaintance, and Gioia Caiola Forman. They appear left to right in the above order.
Principals O. Stuart Chaplain, Jr. (Left, 1969-81), John W. Quaintance (Center, 1981-84), and Gioia Caiola Forman (1984-88).

The Arts and Sciences

From 1988 to 1999, Linda Goldberg served as the fourth principal of Hunters Woods Elementary School. It was during her principalship that Hunters Woods became a magnet school for the arts and sciences. The magnet program began during the 1994-95 school year. More than 400 parents applied for the 110 slots available to children living outside the Hunters Woods boundary. During the first year students had weekly art classes, were given instruction on such topics as the physics of toys, and each classroom had a computer with an internet connection. In June 1997, the Mellifluous Mustang Opera Company performed "Out of Time: An Anachronism" at the Harris Theater on the campus of George Mason University. The opera was written, produced, and directed by Hunters Woods students, who, in addition to performing on stage, were responsible for setting up the microphones, directing the set changes, and running the sound and light boards. Our partnership with George Mason University still continues to this day.   

Undated color photograph of Hunters Woods Elementary School from a 35 millimeter slide. The picture was taken from the sidewalk leading toward the building’s original main entrance. The name Hunters Woods School is visible on the side of the building.

The Mustangs

During the development of Reston, founder Robert E. Simon envisioned seven village centers for his new town, each with its own theme. Only five were built, of which the Hunters Woods Village Center was the second. Hunters Woods was given an equestrian theme. The community originally had two stables for horses, indoor and outdoor riding rings, and bridle paths which wound through the wooded landscape.

Collage of four Hunters Woods yearbook covers. All the cover artwork is student-drawn. Left to right they are from the 1977 to 1978, 2007 to 2008, 2012 to 2013, and 2015 to 2016 school years. The cover on the left is a pencil drawing of a mustang printed in green ink on a white cover. The remaining three covers are very elaborate. The 2008 cover shows a mustang with a rainbow colored mane leaping above illustrations of a violin, a book, a painter’s palette, a magnifying glass, and a pencil. The 2013 cover shows a mustang with five children riding on its back. Behind them is an illustration of the Earth in space. The 2016 cover shows three mustangs, colored green and yellow, galloping against a blue background. In the foreground text reads Mighty Mustangs, and there are illustrations of a backpack, a globe, an open book, a basketball and soccer ball, a painter’s palette, and a ruler.
In keeping with the equestrian theme, the mustang became Hunters Woods Elementary School’s mascot.

Student-drawn illustrations of the mustang have been featured on our yearbook covers as far back as the 1970s. Color printing was far more expensive in those days, so early yearbook illustrations were printed with just one or two colors. Learn about Robert Simon's inspiration for the Hunters Woods Village Center's equestrian theme in this video produced for Fairfax County Public Schools’ cable television channel Red Apple 21.

Bright and Airy

In 1999, Stephen Hockett was appointed as our school's fifth principal. He previously served as an assistant principal (AP) at Hunters Woods, and led our school until 2005. During Stephen Hockett's second year as principal, construction began on a new addition and building-wide renovation to our school. The project was completed in the fall of 2003 at a cost of $7.7 million. During the renovation, 12 new classrooms, a black box theater, a basketball court, and a new gymnasium were constructed, and our main entrance was moved to the second floor of the building.   

The original open school layout created classrooms without walls, and walls without windows in an attempt to blend the school in with the landscape. I guess they didn’t appreciate the need for natural light. The new Hunters Woods is bright and airy, complete with interior and exterior windows and skylights, many skylights.
~ Principal Stephen Hockett

In 2005, Principal Hockett was succeeded by Olivia Toatley. Toatley had been an AP at Hunters Woods when Hockett was principal. She led our school until 2012 when Emily Cope, herself a former Hunters Woods AP, was appointed to the position.

Color yearbook photographs of Hunters Woods principals Linda Goldberg, Stephen Hockett, Olivia Toatley, and Emily Cope. Goldberg and Hockett are pictured together, standing side by side. This photograph comes from our 1998 to 1999 yearbook when Hockett was serving as an assistant principal under Goldberg.
Principals Linda Goldberg and Stephen Hockett (Left, 1988-99, and 1999-05), Olivia Toatley (Center, 2005-12), and Emily S. Cope (Right, 2012-Present). 

School Song

The lyrics and music of our school song were written and composed by Trish Fraker in 1984, and are still in use today. 

Photograph of a yearbook page showing the Hunters Woods School Song. The lyrics read: Hunters Woods, Hunters Woods, green and white are special there. Hunters Woods, Hunters Woods, teachers, friends and folks who care; Learning, sharing, growing strong, the Reston school where we belong; Every day, come what may, our pride is here to stay.

Memories from Hunters Woods


Black and white photograph of five students standing on the brick wall in front of our school and leaning on the metal railing. The name Hunters Woods School is visible behind them on the building.
Hunters Woods Students, Circa 1980

Long before Hunters Woods became a school for the arts and sciences, extra-curricular and co-curricular clubs provided students with an opportunity to express their creativity. The Guitar Club, pictured below, was a popular club in the early 1980s. 

Black and white photograph from our 1980 to 1981 yearbook showing students in the Guitar Club. 23 students and their teacher sponsor are shown. The children are mostly boys. Almost every child in the photograph is holding a guitar.

Reading Superstars was a popular club at Hunters Woods in the late 1970s and early 1980s. Students in the club were encouraged to read one book a week during each nine-week grading period. At the end of the grading period, students who completed the reading were given a certificate. Students who read two books per week also received a certificate and became a member of the Superstar Team. Students who read two books every week for the entire school year were inducted into the Reading Hall of Fame. Students in the Reading Hall of Fame had their picture taken and their photograph was added to a scrapbook.

Black and white photograph of a group of students who have been inducted into the Reading Hall of Fame. The photograph was part of a scrapbook collection in our library and has a card listing the students’ names. The card reads: Team U and Mr. Abell’s Class. Top to bottom – left to right. Row 1: Mitch Painter, George Swann, Kristen Burke, Carol Jud, Patty Stanhope. Row 2: Marc Arthur, Roy Leonard, Eric Free. The students are pictured sitting in a stairwell outside the building. They are wearing heavy jackets and snow is visible on the ground behind them.
Reading Hall of Famers, 1980