Loudoun County School Board voted to name its newest elementary school, ES-32, Henrietta Lacks Elementary School

 

On Tuesday, June 13, 2023, the Loudoun County School Board voted to name its newest elementary school, ES-32, Henrietta Lacks Elementary School. The school, located at 41125 Collaboration Drive in Aldie, is expected to be open for the start of the 2024-2025 school year. Henrietta Lacks Elementary is co-located on a 117-acre site with Lightridge High School and Hovatter Elementary School.

 

Henrietta Lacks (August 18, 1920 - October 4, 1951) was born in Roanoke, Virginia, and died of cervical cancer at age thirty-one. Cell tissue was removed from her body by Johns Hopkins University Hospital, without Lacks’ permission or her family’s knowledge, for preservation and research purposes. Lacks' cells began what was the first, and, for many years, the only human cell line able to reproduce indefinitely. The cells eventually became known as the HeLa (after the first two letters of Henrietta Lacks first and last name) immortal cell line, widely used in laboratory research on viruses, cancers, infectious diseases and human genetics. Her life story has prompted legal and ethical debates over the rights of individuals regarding the use of genetic material and tissue, as well as incidents of racial and social injustice.

 

The name was chosen by the School Board after numerous suggestions and recommendations were made to the Naming Committee. “It is entirely possible that some of the students who will learn at this new school would not be there without the research and scientific advances that Henrietta Lacks made possible,” stated LCSB Chair Ian Serotkin. “I hope it inspires the students there to learn more about science the way it inspired me when I read her story.”

 

Published June 21, 2023