Saying Goodbye to the Countryside in Western Loudoun

Saying+Goodbye+to+the+Countryside+in+Western+Loudoun

Written by River Stone, Special Contributor to the Woodgrove Outlander

Woodgrove’s freshman class for the 2016-2017 school year will be the largest on record due to the influx of new housing developments taking over western Loudoun.

Serving over 70,000 students, it’s easy to see how Loudoun County’s school system is one of the largest in Virginia. Woodgrove High School is projected to have a total of over 1,600 students next year. According to Woodgrove math teacher Mr. Jeff Schutte, while this year every class at the school contained less than 400 students, next year’s freshman class will have over 430. This would be one of the largest classes of all the high schools throughout Loudoun County.

Currently, there are already about 30 students in some of Mr. Schutte’s classes. “Naturally, with that many people, there is definitely going to be an impact on the student’s learning,” said Mr. Schutte.

Because of this projected increase in students, Mr. Shipp will be hiring at least three additional teachers for next year.

“We’re trying to keep the average class size the same,” said Mr. Schutte, “But we all understand, there’s no perfect way to do it,”

Although Woodgrove High School is still a relatively new school, Loudoun County in general is used to this growth and expansion. Over the past four years, the town of Purcellville has opened a Harris Teeter, Chick-Fil-A, Starbucks and numerous other businesses. There are also over 1,050 new houses for sale in this small town alone. But while many people are cringing at the idea of a larger town with larger classes, some have a very positive outlook on the situation,

“We’re used to being flexible, so we’ll just have to be flexible now,” said Woodgrove High school P.E. teacher Mrs. Melissa Vangilder. With an average of over 28 students in each class, the P.E. teachers are used to dealing with large numbers.

The problem of overcrowding is occurring all over Loudoun. Eagle Ridge, Stone Hill, and Mercer Middle School have been hit especially hard, with Mercer Middle having been the number one overcrowding priority in the county this year.

Not only do new housing developments have an effect on school capacity, they also seem to be changing the whole idea of Loudoun County. The slogan “don’t Fairfax Loudoun” developed a decade ago when many people were worried about the new urbanized state of the county.

“We came to Loudoun to escape the city, but now the city is coming to us,” said Woodgrove freshman and longtime resident of Loudoun County, Dominique Cruz.

Many people are having the same concerns. “I’ve been used to seeing open fields my whole life, and now it just feels congested,” said freshman Sarah Murtaugh, whose view of the Blue Ridge Mountains is about to be obstructed by a new housing development. Murtaugh has lived in the small town of Round Hill her entire life, and like many others, she likes it that way. “I love living in Round Hill because it’s a tight knit community, and I don’t want that to change when new families start coming in.”

Whether or not overcrowding will cause a problem for Woodgrove, urbanization is definitely changing Loudoun County. With new developments and businesses popping up everywhere, it may be time to say a final goodbye to the scenic countryside.