Fairfax County School Board Announces Historical Markers Contest

School Board
July 16, 2021

Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS) is partnering with the Board of Supervisors to host the inaugural Fairfax County Historical Markers Contest. 

This project will showcase previously untold narratives and highlight the histories of those who are underrepresented in school curriculum. This year’s focus will be on African American history in Fairfax County.

The Fairfax County Historical Marker program was established in 1998 by the Fairfax County History Commission, and has since produced 53 markers across the county. Out of those markers,10 showcase African American history. It is planned that this inaugural contest will be the first of many opportunities to add historical markers throughout the county. It will also serve as a learning opportunity for students, as they will be encouraged to engage with the local community and learn more about the county’s rich history.

Fairfax County Supervisor Dalia A. Palchik (Providence District) and Fairfax County School Board Member Karl Frisch (Providence District) said in a joint statement: “Through the One Fairfax policy, we are committed to creating a more inclusive and equitable county. While our existing historical markers and monuments around the county reflect some of our stories, there is an opportunity to expand these stories through the joint Fairfax County/FCPS Historical Markers Contest. 

“The inaugural program will focus on revealing the narratives and oral histories of our African American communities, whose rich history, culture, and accomplishments in the county, are underrepresented in our history books. The inaugural historical marker project will focus on African American history in the county, with plans to expand to other groups moving forward.”

FCPS' Instructional Services Department has already begun integrating learning experiences into the K-12 social studies curriculum in support of the Virginia Department of Education's updated history and social science standards, which are now more inclusive of African American history and develop a comprehensive understanding of African American voices that contribute to Virginia's story. 

In partnership with FCPS, the historical marker contest will be one of many Project Based Learning experiences integrated into the K-12 social studies curriculum available for the upcoming school year to provide opportunities for students to engage deeply, drawing connections to our local African American history here in Fairfax County. The contest, which is optional for students and open to any student who resides in Fairfax County, regardless of whether they attend FCPS schools, will be open in January 2022. All students are invited to participate.

In related news, learn more about FCPS student contributions to county historical markers

  • Hunters Woods Elementary School for the Arts and Sciences - Governor Northam announced four students and a teacher from Hunters Woods Elementary School successfully nominated W.W. Yen, who will now be honored with a roadside marker in Charlottesville.  Yen graduated from the University of Virginia in 1900, where he was the first international student to earn a bachelor’s degree and the first Chinese student to earn a degree. One of China’s key early 20th century leaders, Yen served as premier five times and held a series of important cabinet and diplomatic posts. The University of Virginia now has a dorm and scholarship fund named after him. (August 3, 2021)
  • Laurel Ridge ElementaryHistorical Roadside Marker Named By Laurel Ridge Elementary School Students Unveiled on Juneteenth (June 21, 2021)
  • Kings Glen ElementaryKings Glen Elementary School Students and Staff Making History, One Marker at a Time (May 14, 2021)