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Mantua Elementary School opened on September 5, 1961, during the post-World War II period known as the baby boom. In 1955, there were 32,000 children enrolled in Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS). By 1965 that number would climb to 94,450. In September 1956, the Fairfax County School Board authorized the purchase of 11.57 acres in Langhorne Acres in the Mantua area for an elementary school site. Our school was referred to as Langhorne Acres Elementary School until December 16, 1959 when the School Board officially named our building Mantua Elementary School.
On August 23, 1960, the construction contract for our school was awarded to the Wayne Construction Company in the amount of $382,841. Plans originally called for our school to have 14 classrooms, but that number was changed to 20 classrooms and the contract price was revised to $425,197. Mantua was one of five new schools that opened in September 1961.
Is our name pronounced Man-too-ah or Man-chew-ah?
In 1995, Mantua Elementary School pioneered the 1-to-1 initiative (one computer for every student) that is currently a major focus of the Fairfax County School Board and Fairfax County Public Schools administration. The funding for the initial equipment purchase came from a legal settlement with the Texaco company. In 1995, a petroleum leak from the Pickett Road Tank Farm was discovered on Crook Branch Creek in the Mantua neighborhood. In May 1995, the Environmental Protection Agency reported that the oil leak was completely contained and stabilized. Texaco reached a settlement with the community, giving Mantua Elementary School $600,000 to develop a comprehensive educational technology program. Three years later, the Washington Post reported that every classroom had four internet connected computers, and every 5th and 6th grader at Mantua had their own Apple eMate laptop computer which they were able to use at home and at school. Educators marveled at the way teaching and learning had evolved at Mantua with the advent of these technological enhancements in the classroom. Years later, former Mantua principal Ellen Shoetzau was recorded as saying, ‘One-to-one was a cultural change in the way we teach. That’s when the technology became invisible.’
In May 2000, Mantua Elementary School earned a spot on Family PC Magazine’s list of the top 100 wired schools in the nation. The magazine stated that Mantua had four or five cutting-edge computers in every classroom, a computer for every teacher at their desk, a central computer lab with 30 high-end Macintosh G3s, a mobile computer lab that consisted of 10 iBook laptops that could be set up in any room, and that computers were hooked up to the internet via a superfast T-1 connection. The magazine also noted how every 5th and 6th grader received a laptop computer to keep all year which they used to take notes, turn in assignments, and collaborate on projects. ‘At Mantua, the school has embraced its motto of Learning Powered by Technology.’