70th Anniversary Celebrations
Burgundy's founding and first classes were in 1946. In 2016, we marked 70 years of progressive education. We celebrated in many ways!
In honor of Burgundy’s 70th anniversary on Sept. 16, 2016, we reprinted these excerpts of Constant Comment newsletter columns from 1995-1996, written by Jan Leslie Cook, chair of the 50th anniversary committee.
1946 was the year of the first atomic bomb tests, the Nuremberg trials, and a national housing shortage. Scientists unveiled the first computer, dubbed the ENIAC, to almost universal indifference. Shoppers in Washington, DC, rioted over a shortage of nylon hose, and the cost of chicken soared to $1 a pound.
It wasn’t chicken but education that concerned Burgundy’s founding parents. Public schools were overcrowded and uninspiring. A group of 19 families, many involved with Beverley Hills Preschool in Alexandria, established Burgundy Farm as a “democratic school community” with parents as active participants. In their prospectus, founders articulated beliefs that “an intelligent and sensitive reaction to human existence requires more than mastery of material things and the worldly success of the individual,” and “good education is education that best helps the child to gradually take over responsibility for himself and develop a sense of responsibility for others.” ...
Everything starts with meetings, and so did Burgundy: meetings to explore interest in a cooperative elementary school, meetings to figure out finances, meetings to draft a charter. Twenty-nine founders signed articles of incorporation on June 10, 1946. With just weeks to go before the new Burgundy Farm Country Day School would open, they tackled the tasks of hiring faculty and transforming a derelict dairy farm into an educational institution.
This idealistic group sought “a creative approach to living,” love of children and commitment to progressive education in their professional staff. Three teachers, including director/head teacher Bea Alt, an aide, and a cook were hired.
Founders Harold and Kathryn Stone and the Rev. and Mrs. William Basom had purchased the 10-acre Burgundy parcel from the federal government and leased it to the school. Idyllic though the site was, certain realities had to be faced having less to do with dairy cows than former tenants who had tossed trash about the place for years …
It was decided that the upper house would be reserved for the caretaker, as it is today, and the other would be converted into classrooms, library, kitchen and office. Financial gifts from friends and family boosted the meager capital budget. Kathryn Stone’s father, Ralph H. Meyers, a retired contractor, assessed the carpentry skills of parent volunteers and stepped in to become Burgundy’s first caretaker. Under his supervision, weekend crews that included a journalist, radio commentator, minister, government official, university professor, scientist and military officer demolished, framed, cleaned and painted.
On September 16, 1946, Burgundy welcomed 33 students. The great adventure had begun.
With these photographs, we celebrate and remember 70 years of progressive education. We also share our vision forward, with a first look at designs (60% complete) of our planned Arts & Community Center and Campus Commons. (Check out the progress we're making on this project!)
House Resolution No. 218
Offered March 8, 2016
Commending Burgundy Farm Country Day School.
Patrons — Sickles and Krizek
WHEREAS, for 70 years, Burgundy Farm Country Day School in the Alexandria area of Fairfax County has nurtured a love of learning in countless young students, presenting innovative curricula in a positive, supportive environment; and
WHEREAS, founded by a group of parents seeking a small, cooperatively owned school for their children, Burgundy Farm Country Day School was established on a former dairy farm and held its first classes in 1946, with parents serving as many of the original staff members; and
WHEREAS, in 2016, Burgundy Farm Country Day School provides a unique educational experience to students in pre-kindergarten through eighth grade, and parent and family participation remains a vital component of the school’s philosophy; and
WHEREAS, the faculty and staff of Burgundy Farm Country Day School work to ensure that children are engaged, challenged, and supported, recognizing that students are individuals who learn and grow at their own pace; and
WHEREAS, situated closely to forests, ponds, and streams, Burgundy Farm Country Day School uses the natural world as a classroom; students have the opportunity to participate in hands-on science projects in the great outdoors or visit the 500-acre Burgundy Center for Wildlife Studies in West Virginia; and
WHEREAS, with students representing many different backgrounds, Burgundy Farm Country Day School celebrates cultural diversity and helps students achieve their fullest potential; now, therefore, be it
RESOLVED by the House of Delegates, That Burgundy Farm Country Day School hereby be commended on the occasion of its 70th anniversary; and, be it
RESOLVED FURTHER, That the Clerk of the House of Delegates prepare a copy of this resolution for presentation to Jeff Sindler, head of school of Burgundy Farm Country Day School, as an expression of the House of Delegates’ admiration for the school’s commitment to providing a challenging and engaging academic experience.
County of Fairfax, Virginia
WHEREAS, Burgundy Farm Country Day School—located in the Alexandria area of Fairfax County—nurtures a love of learning in countless young students, presenting innovative curricula in a positive, supportive environment where family participation is a vital component of its philosophy, and
WHEREAS, the school was founded by parents seeking a small, cooperatively owned school for their children and was established on a former dairy farm, holding its first classes in 1946, and
WHEREAS, Burgundy Farm Country Day School provides a unique educational experience for students in pre-kindergarten through eighth grade where faculty and staff work to ensure children are engaged, challenged and supported, and
WHEREAS, Burgundy Farm Country Day School became the first integrated school in Virginia in 1950 and continues to celebrate diversity, having many students from numerous cultural backgrounds, and
WHEREAS, the school is situated close to forest, ponds and streams and students have the opportunity to participate in hands-on science projects in the great outdoors or visit the 500-acre Burgundy Center for Wildlife Studies in West Virginia; NOW THEREFORE
BE IT RESOLVED, that Fairfax County Board of Supervisors, on behalf of all residents of Fairfax County, does hereby congratulate Burgundy Farm Country Day School for its 70th anniversary, noteworthy education of children and inestimable contributions to Fairfax County.
Sharon Bulova, Chairman
Fairfax County Board of Supervisors
November 1, 2016
NBC Washington aired a TV spot highlighting state delegates' Earth Day visit in honor of our anniversary.
The Mount Vernon Gazette published a story on the state delegates' visit and Earth Day assembly.