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With contest deadline approaching, students advocate for Louise Archer historical marker

Louise Archer Elementary School students research their school’s namesake (via Louise Archer Fourth Grade/Twitter)

Students have one week left to submit their ideas for new markers honoring Fairfax County’s Black and African American history.

The county is set to close the submission period for its 2022 Historical Marker Project on April 30. The project is part of a larger initiative to highlight the experiences of Black and African American residents that launched in February, coinciding with Black History Month.

While it remains to be seen how many proposals the county gets — and how many are ultimately chosen to become official markers — Louise Archer Elementary School students want to make sure their school’s namesake is in the mix.

Fourth-grade students have been researching Archer, who was the Vienna school’s first principal, in preparation for submitting her name, according to the grade’s Twitter account.

Born in Fayetteville, North Carolina, in 1893, Archer started her educational career with Fairfax County Public Schools as a teacher at Oak Grove School, a one-room schoolhouse for African American kids in Herndon, according to Louise Archer Elementary’s history of her.

Appointed as the teacher and principal of a school for Black students in Vienna in 1924, Archer joined with the Vienna Colored School League, the school’s equivalent of a parent-teacher association, to get a three-room schoolhouse constructed on Nutley Street in 1939 that would become Louise Archer Elementary.

The historical marker contest is open to all kids in Fairfax County. Submissions must deal with local Black and African American history.

The county recommends focusing on a person who is no longer alive or events that took place at least 50 years ago, though the guidelines say exceptions can be made with the Fairfax County History Commission’s approval.

Ideas can be submitted:

  • Through the county’s website
  • By email to NCSblackhistorycommittee@fairfaxcounty.gov
  • By mail to the Neighborhood and Community Services Black History Committee (12011 Government Center Pkwy 10th floor, Fairfax, VA 22030).

The winners will be chosen by a voting committee, and all participants will receive a certificate and recognition in a news release.

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