A Short History of Loudoun County Public Schools

Recounting the growth of LCPS from the beginning

Did you know that Loudoun County Public Schools was founded over 150 years ago? In 1870, the entire population of Loudoun County totalled just over 20,000. Today, students alone number above 80,000. 

Before the founding of LCPS, the only publicly funded schools were for those who were unable to afford an education, such as orphans. Most schools were private, funded by the families who attended. While public schools had been proposed, they did not come to fruition until the 19th century. 

The early days of Loudoun County Public Schools were full of rapid growth. “​Public education came to Loudoun County in 1869. Fifty-five public schools were built in the next three years,” according to info from the Thomas Balch Library. At first, LCPS consisted of many small schools, most of which had only one room for grades K-12. However, in the 20th century, the switch was made from these small buildings to much larger schools. 

The differences do not end there. According to info from the Thomas Balch Library, “these schools were segregated by gender and race. In the early 20th century, schools were consolidated, but segregated between African-American and White students. Segregation ended in 1968.” 

Early in the 20th century, superintendent Oscar Emerick made several significant changes. According to the Loudoun Times-Mirror, he founded one school board for all of LCPS, provided school buses for all students, and introduced programs such as health and music into schools. In 1954, he would open Loudoun County High School.

Loudoun County High School, opened in 1954 and is the oldest LCPS high school still operating today. Today, there are 18 high schools in LCPS and PFHS was the fifth to open, in 1997. 

At the time of opening, PFHS was the first LCPS high school to open in over 20 years and was the first of the “new model” of schools. Its design and structure differed from that of Loudoun County, Loudoun Valley, Park View, and Broad Run – the other four operating high schools at that time.

That first year, only freshmen, sophomores, and juniors were in attendance. The school was built to house 1,200 students and by its third year, it hit this number. Today, the student body has more than doubled from its opening year, with over 1,600 students as of 2021.

PFHS has several events in store to celebrate its 25th year open, and more of this history will be documented in the Roar magazine’s first issue. Bring $5 to rm 239 to subscribe and get all three issues.