main banner

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

A historic first day of school at Bailey's Upper Elementary School

The bus drop-off went smoothly.
About 600 third, fourth, and fifth-graders streamed into the brand-new Bailey’s Upper Elementary School Sept. 2 on the first day of the 2014-15 school year. Housed in a former office building on Leesburg Pike in Seven Corners, Bailey’s Upper is the first vertical, urban-design public school in Fairfax County.

Principal Marie Lemmon and Jeffrey Platenberg, assistant superintendent of Fairfax County Public Schools for facilities and transportation services, welcomed students as they stepped down from their buses. FCPS Superintendent Karen Garza and school board member Sandy Evans also stopped by.

Principal Marie Lemmon (center) greets students.
“For the first day, things went really well,” Lemmon said. “They came in orderly; many students already knew where to go. They’d seen their classrooms last week during the school’s open house.”

As she walked around the building, Lemmon saw “kids in class playing introductory games, learning each others’ names, and talking about routines in the classroom.”

There was a report that large numbers of students from the Culmore area didn’t know which bus to get on and went home. According to Lemmon, “about four or five children who had never ridden the bus before were confused about where to get on the bus and their parents drove them to school.” 

Classroom furniture can be configured in different ways.
The old Bailey’s Elementary School, which had been severely overcrowded, will be much roomier now that it’s limited to prekindergarten through grade 2. Lemmon plans to split her time among the new and old campuses, which are 1.6 miles apart, as needed. “As a principal you never know what’s going to happen,” she says. “Kids rule the day.”

Staffers help students find their classroom.
Kids line up for breakfast.


  1. I think it is great that they are doing this. Using the stairs will also be good exercise for the kids.

  2. Thank goodness for the stairs since that's all the exercise they will get since there isn't a playground or playing field.

  3. The Seven Corners/Baileys area is becoming a patchwork of fixes here and there and developing into a big mess.

  4. Correct - no playground and no gym. BUT they will still play. There are indoor play/exercise spaces for PE and there's a blacktop for recess. Kids in NYC and DC have played on blacktop for decades. If the only complaint you have about the new Bailey's is that there's no playground, things aren't too bad. Get over it!

  5. Wow. It's actually hard to "get over" no gym or playground in an elementary school. Outdoor play and gross motor play is a huge part of social/emotional and cognitive development in children.

    It's also important to note that kids in NYC public schools have gyms and playgrounds. NYC PS has regulations that elementary school gyms have a minimum ceiling height that far exceeds what our kids have at Bailey's Upper. Using a conference room as a gym would not happen in NYC.

    And kids throughout Fairfax County play on blacktop... it's one of their many options for play. They can also swing on swing sets, climb jungle gyms, etc. - but the kids at Bailey's Upper can't. They can only play four-square, probably jump rope or maybe play tag in a small, dark, covered blacktop area bordered by parked cars and a driveway.

    The indoor fitness rooms at Bailey's Upper are conference rooms -- they're not big enough for the PE teachers to administer Presidential Fitness testing for running. That's really sad.

    Kids will always play, and all kids in Fairfax County public schools should have the same opportunities for play. We shouldn't offer something less to the kids in Mason District. FCPS should be ashamed to offer this substandard facility to our kids.

  6. Mason Crest E.S. did not have a playground completed when they started. The kids did not get it until the Spring of the first year it opened. Then the field also had issues and was closed for most of the first year. Give them time to get things finished. Bailey's Upper has many amazing things like the science labs and the media rooms that our schools don't have and you don't see us whining that we don't have things like that.

  7. You are right that the school is not finished yet. It's a shame that the field was not open for the first year at Mason Crest; we were there for little league games and it's a really huge green space.

    I recognize that Bailey's Upper will have some kind of small outdoor playground installed in 2015 or 2016. If they get approval, they will also build an annex building for a gymnasium; but the timeline for that is unknown.