The day has finally come for Douglas MacArthur Elementary School.
On Monday, members of the community and Alexandria City Public Schools leadership watched as a demolition crew started tearing down the World War II-era building.
Lisa Porter lives across the street from MacArthur, and watched the demolition from her front yard with a group of neighbors. Porter’s two children went through MacArthur, and she has been involved with the school for 15 years.
“We are thrilled to finally see this happen,” Porter said. “We started hearing about this when my son was in kindergarten, and now he’s in college.”
School Board Chair Meagan Alderton said she would never forget making the “emotional” decision on MacArthur’s fate.
“Man, oh man, was it worth it,” Alderton said. “Because we are moving forward, we are excited. And I can’t wait to have this brand new building and have our teachers and our staff and our families be allowed to have what they deserve. It’ll be amazing when this place is a memory and we have new building up here.”
ACPS Superintendent Gregory Hutchings, Jr., said construction is on schedule to reopen the school in Jan. 2023. In the meantime, MacArthur students are using the old Patrick Henry Elementary School as swing space.
“I’m sorry that our students and our families were not able to be here because of the COVID restrictions,” Hutchings said. “But this was a wonderful occasion. It was a long time coming and we’re so excited for the next chapter of Douglas MacArthur.”
Design-wise, MacArthur’s three-level “Forest” plan was chosen last year. It is currently set back from Janneys Lane, putting classrooms at the rear of the building and providing a view of nearby Forest Park.
City Councilwoman Amy Jackson was also there. Last month, Jackson made an impassioned plea for movement on construction.
“I’m very excited,” she said. “The community engagement has been amazing. It’s going to be an exciting time for an exciting school.”
MacArthur Principal Penny Hairston said that the demolition was a long time coming.
“There is a rich legacy here, and this is very exciting,” Hairston said. “It’s a very emotional thing to see this happen.”