Provided by Prince William County Schools (PWCS)
Thursday, Sept. 30, 2021, marked the dedication of the 13th high school in Prince William County, Gainesville High School. The beautiful, state-of-the-art school, designed by Moseley architects, is in the Brentsville District, serving students in ninth through twelfth grade. Gainesville High School’s school colors are red (crimson), black, grey, and white.
The ribbon-cutting ceremony hosted elected officials and their representatives from the federal to the local level and school officials, as well as community members who celebrated the opening of the new school and special dedications of the Officer Ashley M. Guindon Library Media Center and Lillian M. Orlich Student Services Center.
Principal Neil Beech hosted a reception in the school’s Grey Commons lunchroom, which is located next to the school’s unique outdoor amphitheater.
In addition to the school’s ribbon-cutting ceremony, the school’s Student Services Center was dedicated to long-time teacher and school counselor Lillian M. Orlich. Former mayor of Manassas and student of Ms. Orlich, Harry J. Parrish II (Hal), attended the reception and ceremony and extolled on the life and vast accomplishments of ‘Miss O’s’ 67-year career.
“She, Miss O, came to teach. And teach she did. So many have benefitted from this young teacher over so many years, over so many decades, I know that I have. I recall Miss O being a tough social studies teacher, setting expectations high for her students. Miss O, I am thankful for having you as a teacher, with your demand for excellence, we all worked hard,” said Parrish.
In addition to the school ‘s ribbon-cutting ceremony, the school’s Library Media Center was dedicated to the late Prince William County Police Officer Ashley M. Guindon. Officer Guindon’s mother, Sharon Guindon, attended the reception and ceremony and shared why she felt naming the library after her beloved daughter was so appropriate.
“As students and teachers walk into Ashley’s Library Media Center, I hope they will be inspired by the character and life of a young woman who was filled with ambition and love for her country, who was always there for her community, and who dedicated her strong commitment to serving and protecting the community she cherished,” Guindon told the audience, which included many Prince William County Police Department officers
Superintendent of Schools Dr. LaTanya D. McDade said, “Ms. Orlich and Ms. Guindon are beacons of leadership for PWCS students. Both women followed their distinct passions and demonstrate the importance of empowering students to set goals and develop strategies to achieve them.”
During the ceremony, speakers shared their praise for the honorees and spoke of their excitement for all the things that will happen at the new school.
School Board Chairman At-Large Babur B. Lateef, M.D., said, “Mr. Beech handled logistical challenges opening Gainesville High with grace and began building the Gainesville High School family right away. This is a place where students will work hard and play hard and set and reach new academic milestones.”
Daania Sharifi, Gainesville High School student, served as emcee for the evening.
The Gainesville Marching Band started the ceremony with the National Anthem under the direction of Vincent Byrk. Two more student performances followed, starting with a special combined choral ensemble of Gainesville High students performing “Let There Be Song” under the direction of Kristina Sheppard, followed by a performance by the orchestra performing “A Birch Bay Celebration: I. Bayside Rendezvous,” under the direction of Jennifer Malecheck.
After Beech announced the ribbon-cutting for Gainesville High School, he invited guests to join a tour of school, which included a stop for the ribbon-cutting for the Officer Ashley M. Guindon Library Media Center and the Lillian M. Orlich Student Services Center.