In 1965, the Fairfax County School Board assigned architect Earl Bailey to design plans for a 20-classroom school tentatively called the Mill Creek Park Elementary School. Due to lack of construction funding, the plans for the school never got off the table and the project was put on hold. In June 1968, the architectural design of the Mill Creek Park School, by then referred to as Camelot Elementary School, were considered outmoded because an educational concept calling for "open classrooms" was quickly becoming the preferred teaching methodology in Fairfax County. The School Board assigned architect Anthony Mussolino to redesign Camelot to incorporate open classroom spaces and increase the capacity of the school to 900 students.
On September 26, 1968, the School Board awarded the contract for the construction of our school to Earl K. Rosti, Inc., at a cost of $1,047,969, with a scheduled completion date of July 1969. Camelot Elementary School opened on September 2, 1969. Our first principal was Beatrice Ward. Approximately 574 students walked through the doors of Camelot on opening day.
What's in a Name?
The name Camelot has long been associated with the legendary King Arthur and fantastical stories of knights and dragons. Accordingly, this association inspired our choice of a school mascot and two special gifts to our school.
How exactly did our school come to be known by the name Camelot? Find out in this video produced for Fairfax County Public Schools’ cable television channel Red Apple 21.
Pine Ridge Elementary School
From the mid-1970s into the early 1980s, student enrollment began a gradual decline resulting in the closure of several schools in Fairfax County. The closures affected neighborhoods that saw the earliest growth post-World War II. The children in these neighborhoods were graduating high school, and there were fewer families in the area with young children. Enrollment at Camelot Elementary School gradually declined from 637 students in 1975 to 445 students in 1982. In 1982, a study was conducted to determine which of three elementary schools—Camelot, Mantua, or Pine Ridge—should be closed at the completion of the 1982-83 school year. The Fairfax County School Board voted to close Pine Ridge Elementary School, located nearby on Woodburn Road. After it closed, the school was converted into a police station. The subsequent boundary adjustment transferred approximately 200 former Pine Ridge students to Camelot during the 1983-84 school year.
From 1969 to 2012, Camelot Elementary School was home to a special education center for deaf and hard of hearing students. In addition to elementary-aged children with special needs, the center enrolled preschool children in the Camelot Hearing Pod for Preschoolers. Hearing impaired children throughout Fairfax County were bused to the center, which offered specialized small-group classes and "mainstreamed" students into general education classes.
By the mid-1990s, Camelot Center served infants as young as 9 months and children up to the sixth grade. An early intervention program for deaf and hard of hearing infants and toddlers, called Bright Beginnings for Babies, was being offered in collaboration with Fairfax-Falls Church Early Intervention Services. Learn more about Bright Beginnings and other aspects of Camelot Center’s history in this video playlist from the Fairfax County Public Schools’ Red Apple 21 television channel archives.
Camelot Center closed in 2012, when the deaf and hard of hearing program was moved to Canterbury Woods Elementary School.
Camelot Center Principals
For many years, Camelot Center operated under the direction of a separate principal from Camelot Elementary. The first known principal of Camelot Center, from pictures in our 1980s-era yearbooks, is Connie Rahill. Carol McBride was principal from the early to mid-1990s, and Donna Grossman was principal from the late 1990s until the center closed in 2012.
Camelot Elementary Principals
Camelot Elementary School’s first principal was Beatrice Booton Ward. She served as principal less than a full year due to health complications. Marvis G. Wynn, who succeeded Ward as principal, described what happened in an interview: “The prior principal had a heart attack. They’d had substitutes in there, she’d come back, she had to go out again, and there really wasn’t any leadership.” Marvis Wynn was appointed principal of Camelot during the summer of 1970, and she led Camelot until the summer of 1980. Principal Wynn was succeeded by Joseph N. Rucker. Joe Rucker retired in 1991, and in January 1993, Camelot Elementary School's library was named in his honor by the Fairfax County School Board.
The School Board resolution naming the library praised Joe Rucker for his love of learning, for fostering a sense of "family" at Camelot, and for his deep concern for the physical, mental, and emotional well-being of all children. In 1991, David E. Chubb became the fourth principal of Camelot. After his retirement in 2003, he donated Sir Learn-A-Lot (the knight statue prominently displayed in our lobby). Principal Chubb was succeed in 2003 by Melaney Mackin, who led our school until 2008.
In 2008, Craig Gfeller was appointed the sixth principal of Camelot Elementary School. Gfeller led Camelot until our current principal, Aileen Flaherty, was appointed in 2012.
Our library has a copy of almost every yearbook since our school opened. Here is an animated look the covers in our collection.
The Buddy Bench
Dedicated in May 2016, the Buddy Bench has become an important part of our school culture. Children are taught that if they feel alone or isolated during recess, they are to go and sit on the bench. When other children see one of their peers sitting on the bench, they know to come and talk or play with him or her.