School History

Columbia Elementary School opened on September 5, 1967, with a population of 525 students. Only 15 of those children lived in the immediate neighborhood and walked to school. All others were transported by school buses. When our school opened there was no air-conditioning, the library was on the second floor, and physical education and music were taught in regular classrooms. However, we were equipped with the latest technology of that time: a 16mm movie projector, opaque and overhead projectors, tripod-mounted screens, a 35mm film camera, listening centers for students, and a dry mount press.

Columbia Elementary yearbook covers from 1969 and 1975. The 1969 cover is a plain image of books on a shelf with the word classbook printed in bold. The 1975 yearbook cover is a black and white photograph of students sitting on the playground's jungle gym equipment.

Columbia Elementary School Yearbook Covers From 1968-69 and 1974-75. 

The first major change to our building took place during the 1987-88 school year when a new wing was constructed adding a gym, music room, and School Age Child Care (SACC) rooms. The new addition also had central air-conditioning, something the older part of our building still had to do without until our school was renovated during the 1994-95 school year. Construction took place while school was still in session, so teachers, staff, and students were moved periodically into temporary locations in trailers or in different parts of the building until the renovation was complete. The renovation added a new media center, reading room, art room, computer lab, and an elevator to our building. Mrs. Lewis, Columbia’s principal at the time, held a rededication ceremony on June 6, 1995. The 1995 kindergarten class created a time capsule that was sealed until our school’s 40th anniversary celebration in 2007. At our school’s 50th anniversary celebration, held in March 2018, we opened a time capsule sealed in 2007, finding gifts of photographs, t-shirts, student artwork and other memorabilia.  

What is the origin of the name Columbia?

East Annandale

During its original construction our school was referred to as East Annandale Elementary School. At its meeting on August 21, 1967, the Fairfax County School Board officially named our school Columbia Elementary because of its location in the center of an area bounded by Columbia Pike and Old Columbia Pike. Planning for our school began as early as March 1965 when school system records show negotiations were underway to acquire land for a school in the East Annandale area. Our school was designed by the architecture firm of Pickett & Siess, and was modeled after their design for Spring Hill Elementary School. The construction contract for our school was awarded to M. L. Whitlow in the amount of $573,600 on November 10, 1966.

Our Principals

1967 – 1970: Helen R. McDowell
1970 – 1979: Harriet P. Parrott
1979 – 1980: Kay P. Steiert
1980 – 1989: Mark Summers
1989 – 1995: Donna Lewis
1995 – 1998: Jean Nikovits
1998 – 2007: Stephanie H. Daugherty
2007 – 2021: Michael R. Cunningham
2021 – Present:  Michael Astudillo