Sunrise Valley Elementary School was the sixth public school built in the Reston community. Our school was established in September 1978, but during that first year classes were held at South Lakes High School because our school building was still under construction. Our first principal was William “Bill” Berkeley Martin, and on September 4, 1979, Principal Martin welcomed 600 students to the brand new Sunrise Valley Elementary School. When it opened, Sunrise Valley Elementary School became the first Gifted and Talented Center (GT) in the Reston area. Prior to that time, GT students from Reston were bussed to Kent Gardens and Haycock elementary schools in McLean. The GT program was the forerunner of today’s Advanced Academics Programs (AAP).
Why was our school named Sunrise Valley?
In March 1980, Sunrise Valley Elementary School fourth grader Billy Ward and his friends were looking for interesting rocks on the playground during recess when Billy stumbled upon a rock that he said was “shaped like a fish.” Billy showed the rock to his teacher, Mr. Henry Friedl, who informed Billy that the rock was an arrowhead fashioned out of quartz. The arrowhead was authenticated as a genuine Native American artifact by the Smithsonian Institution, but its exact age was unknown. For thousands of years, Fairfax County was used as hunting territory by the native peoples of Virginia. At the time of European contact in the early 1600s, Fairfax County was home to the Tauxenant people, also known as the Taux and the Dogue. The arrowhead was likely churned up during the construction of our school, but no one noticed it before Billy happened along on that fateful day.