Alexandria Legend’s Legacy

Ferdinand T. Day

By Celeste Amron and Elise Bilodeau

The new Alexandria City Public Schools (ACPS) elementary school in the West End was named the Ferdinand T. Day Elementary School last week. Day was an Alexandria native who attended the Parker Gray School in Alexandria until eighth grade, before going to high school in DC.

Day was a civil rights activist in Alexandria, and was elected to be a member of the Alexandria City School Board in 1964, making him the first African American to be elected to a public school board in Virginia. Day was also named an Alexandria Living Legend because of his role on the School Board and his work to integrate schools in Alexandria.

School Board Member Veronica Nolan said, “Ultimately the majority of the board chose to honor Ferdinand T. Day out of the desire to pay homage to the one local legend recommended who has deep ties to the community and influenced the desegregation of Alexandria.”

The Ferdinand T. Day Elementary School is located in a former office building.

The Ferdinand T. Day Elementary School will be the second school in ACPS to have a focus on science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM), following after Cora Kelly School for Math, Science and Technology. According to the ACPS website, “The STEM foundation will ensure that students are prepared for a range of STEM-related options at the secondary level and beyond.”

Nolan said, “The goal of the STEM curriculum is to integrate disciplines as well as provide the opportunity to focus on project-based tasks as a group with the hope that this will prepare students to become critical thinkers who excel in creatively solving real-world problems.”

The new school will be located in an office building. This is another example of Alexandria’s growing capacity issues because there is not enough open land in the city to build another elementary school. The school will be able to hold 650 kindergarten through fifth grade students when it opens in the fall of 2018.

In 2015, Day passed away at the age of 96. His daughter, Gwen Day-Fuller, was at the School Board meeting when the naming was announced. Day-Fuller said, “It means everything. I am just so happy. I know he would be so humbled and happy.”