If you’re happy and you know it, you must be at Haycock Elementary School, where on a cool, cloudy day, sunbeams radiated from the faces of students, parents, staff, and a legislator who gathered outdoors to celebrate a ribbon-cutting for a new playground and the school’s total makeover.
Money for an estimated $17 million in school improvements came from a bond referendum approved by Fairfax County taxpayers in 2013, and included a “full renovation” with two building additions of 15 new classrooms and a new cafeteria, according to the principal, Jereme Donnelly.
Plus, the McLean Community Foundation, the PTA, the Haycock community, and Fairfax County schools contributed about $65,000 for the new playground which is the best thing about Haycock, said first grader Justin Suydam, “7 and a half,” and Aiden Harper, 8, a second grader.
Donnelly has been at the Haycock helm less than a year but his enthusiasm and glee mirrored those of the students, several of whom stood patiently in a line to chat with a Falls Church News-Press reporter and give their impressions of their school. (“They couldn’t wait to talk to you,” Donnelly said.)
“I want to be interviewed,” they said.
Bella DeMarco, 11, is a sixth grader at Haycock where her mother teaches.
Bella said: “I really like the people who work here, and the teachers are really great, and we just have an awesome experience here.” Her favorite class is writing which she said begins in the first grade at Haycock! And she likes history and math, too.
Madelyn Frederick, 10, a fourth grader, said Haycock is “one big happy family. We have no bullies here and no fights. It’s awesome.” Madelyn’s favorite subjects are writing and reading, and she enjoys school theatre.
Her brother, Tyler, 7, a first grader, said his favorite subject is computer lab. Tyler could not think of a single thing he dislikes about Haycock.
Henry Jenkins, 8, a second grader, likes Haycock a lot, too.
A former Haycock teacher and now assistant principal, Erica Riley, said the school’s greatest assets “are definitely the students and the families.”
Monica Kumar is the PTA vice-president for fundraising, who said everything was gutted at Haycock for the construction which was carried out by section over two years, and permitted the school to operate without closure. Practically everything has been completed.
The construction team “did an amazing job,” finishing the project several months ahead of schedule, she said. Haycock, a “Blue Ribbon” school, is celebrating its 60th anniversary this year and this is its first big overhaul.
Alison Symons is Haycock’s PTA president who said the school has 932 students, about 42.5 percent who are Caucasian, and 40 percent, Asians. About a third of the students speak two languages. SchoolDigger, a Web resource which carries 136,000 school profiles, ranks Haycock 13th of all 1099 elementary public schools in Virginia.
At Haycock, the morning’s fun did not end with the conclusion of the outdoor ceremony for an indoor “taping” was set to follow, to meet promised obligations.
Donnelly and Riley had agreed to let students tape them to a wall if students obtained pledges from relatives and friends in all 50 states for Haycock’s “Boosterthon,” a fundraiser for “tech improvements.” The students succeeded in raising about $40,000 from all the states.
Donnelly said he had studied the taping technique which requires an ample supply of duct tape and many laughs.