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Family Is the Center of Hovatter Dedication


“Family” was the primary word at the dedication of Loudoun County’s 97th public school, Hovatter Elementary, on November 15.

The new school joining Loudoun County Public Schools’ family was highlighted along with the family whose land made it possible.

Hovatter Elementary is built on the former 151-acre Hovatter Farms, which was founded in 1954 by Air Force Col. Elbert T. “E.T.” Hovatter. Hovatter managed to maintain his farm for decades while being a full-time military officer.  In 2017, the land was sold to Loudoun County to honor the wishes of Hovatter and his wife, Sibyl, who wanted the land to be used for schools.

Two of the Hovatters’ sons, Ken and Marv, were on hand for the dedication.

Speaking for the family, Ken Hovatter noted that, in addition to Hovatter Elementary, Willard Middle School and Lightridge High School now stand on what was Hovatter Farms. “We are honored and grateful for this day to come about.”

In his remarks, LCPS Superintendent Dr. Scott Ziegler noted that a second elementary school will be built on the property and that the Hovatters’ educational dream had truly been fulfilled.  “This land, which represented Loudoun County’s agricultural past, now embodies its educational future. In both cases, this land was put to an essential use for the good of the community. Landscapes change, buildings come and go, but one thing that endures is the spirit of community.”

“Today we dedicate this school to the extended school family which will be nurtured here for decades to come. At the same time, we recognize the Hovatters, and gladly welcome them to the community of learners that carries on their name.” 

Principal Lori Mercer said she knew Hovatter Elementary would be a special place when she took a virtual tour of the building during her second day on the job. “It was evident this building was designed to match the instructional vision and mission of our school division and would be a learning environment conducive to deeper learning with a strong emphasis on collaboration.” 

“It is beyond incredible.”

Reaching dedication day was a hard journey for the school’s staff. In addition to the usual difficulties opening a new school, Mercer noted that Hovatter’s staff opened in the midst of a global pandemic after a year of hybrid and distance learning. The new school opened with an  enrollment of more than a thousand students and was still receiving furniture and textbooks on the first day of school with more than 3,000 students and family members on campus for an open house. Mercer said her staff met all these challenges “with a smile and an ‘I can’ attitude each and every day. I could not be more proud and honored to work and learn alongside this incredible group.”

Mercer quickly added that students are what Hovatter Elementary is all about. 

“You are our ‘why.’ You inspire us to work hard. Challenge us to think in different ways. Reward us in big and small moments and motivate us to help you achieve your personal best each and every day.”

School Board member Jeff Morse (Dulles District) also thanked the staff. “The school is alive and buzzing because of the efforts of dedicated educators. Thank you all. Your passion and commitment bring beauty into the minds of our children.”

School Board member Ian Serotkin noted the school’s mascot, the Honeybees, held many lessons for Hovatter’s students. “Honeybees stick together. All the bees work as one to make their community a better place for everyone.  Everyone has a place and a role.”

“I hope your first year is all honey and no stings.”

In another nod to family, Mercer cut the ceremonial ribbon for the school with a pair of oversized scissors used for the dedication of Little River Elementary in 2000. (Mercer was a teacher on Little River’s inaugural staff). Former Little River Principal Patricia McGinly donated the scissors to LCPS and they’ve been used at virtually every dedication since. (McGinly was in the audience for Hovatter’s dedication.)

The Lightridge band and cheerleaders welcomed the dedication audience to Hovatter and the Loudoun County Junior Naval ROTC presented the colors.

In addition to Morse and Serotkin, School Board members Harris Mahedavi (Ashburn District) and Andrew Hoyler (Broad Run District) attended the dedication along with former Leesburg District School Board member Tom Marshall. The LCPS Central Administration was represented by Deputy Superintendent Dr. Ashley Ellis; Chief of Staff Dr. Mark Smith; Executive Director, Chief of Schools Rae Mitchell; Chief Operations Officer Kevin Lewis; Assistant Superintendent for Student Services Dr. Asia Jones; Executive Director of Teaching and Learning Neil Slevin; Director of Equity Lottie Spurlock; and Director of Elementary Education Elaine Layman.  





Published December 6, 2021