|Those who care for the children and families of Prince William County are deeply moved and troubled by this week's events in Pakistan. Our hearts and prayers go out to the victims, their familes, and loved ones.|
Graham Park Middle School is located in the oldest continuously chartered town in Virginia. The Virginia legislature located in Williamsburg, VA granted a charter for the town in 1749. The town was located on Quantico Creek on 60 acres of land donated by John Graham. John Graham named the town after his birthplace in Dumfrieshire, Scotland. Graham Park is situated on land which was once part of the Graham plantation. Graham was born on April 30, 1711 in Dumfrieshire, Scotland. It is believed that John Graham came to Virginia in search of a better life when his family was forced to sell their estate in Scotland when the family fell on hard times. He arrived in Prince William County in 1739.
John Graham began a successful mercantile business of shipping tobacco. He traded with London and Glasgow to purchase supplies for his clients. By 1746, he purchased a 136-acre piece of property and placed tobacco warehouses on it. The tobacco warehouses became important centers of trade and banking. From the large tract of land, he gave 60 acres to what would become the town of Dumfries. The land ran from approximately Howard Street to the north, to where it terminated at the north bank of the Quantico Creek. It included the site of the original Quantico Church including the Dumfries Cemetery. Today this area is known as Graham Park.
By 1756, Graham Park Plantation included a cooper, carpenter, cord winder, weavers, blacksmith and other craftsmen. Many of these jobs were held by slaves or indentured servants. The plantation boasted a 100-ton subterranean ice storage facility. It was located under the “Indian Treaty Oak”, one of the largest oak trees found in Virginia. This tree was so named because it was a place where local Indian tribes met. To help meet the needs of river commerce and the fishing industry, the plantation started its own shipbuilding. The port of Dumfries was a well-protected harbor which never froze over, and had fresh water available from the Potomac.
Graham married his second wife in 1756. His first wife, Christian Brown, died almost immediately after they were married. Elizabeth Catesby Cocke was the daughter of Colonel Gatesby Cocke. Colonel Cocke served for 25-years in the colonial government. Since he had no son, the Colonel arranged for John to become his successor as clerk of Fairfax County. A man named Peter Wagoner was clerk of Prince William County but lived in Fairfax County. An arrangement was made for the two of them to switch positions to allow them to work where they lived.
After the American Revolution, Dumfries gained a reputation of a place to have fun. Dumfries was the capital of Prince William County and had a booming tobacco port. The Dumfries Race Track built around 1711 became a center for all types of entertainment. The races were arranged on a mostly informal basis, originating usually from a challenge between two men that one's horse was faster than the other's.
John Graham died at the age of 76 in August of 1787 at his plantation. His son George was active in the Quantico Church and alter became Secretary of War under Presidents Madison and Monroe. Robert, another son, inherited his father’s position as clerk of Prince William County. John, his youngest son, served in the Kentucky legislature. President Jefferson sent him to New Orleans to become secretary and later to become secretary in Spain. He was chief clerk to Secretary of State Madison.
Fast forward to today: Graham Park is a Math/Science Specialty School. Students enrolled in the program are given opportunities to explore in depth mathematical and scientific concepts and principles in an intensive program of study. Besides a challenging curriculum, students have the opportunity to further develop their critical thinking skills. All students in the program are required to complete a science fair project in the spring.
The site-based SIGNET (gifted education) Program gives students an opportunity to participate in class and independent center activities for a total of 50 hours a year. The SIGNET resource room has over fifty independent centers designed to meet the individual abilities and interests of its students. Those with a proclivity toward science experiment with magnets, electricity and prisms; artistic students gravitate to the computer art, piano, computer music and satire and art centers; others who enjoy writing participate in the Writing On center while some explore the past and learn about the culture and history of Ancient Egypt. All centers are self-paced.
The Park (as Graham Park is affectionately known) offers an eclectic array of activities from student government, Math Counts, drama, ecology, foreign language, step team, and a host of other traditional clubs to sports teams such as soccer, football, track, basketball and baseball/softball to satisfy the needs of the most discriminating student.
Graham Park’s staff is committed to making our school a community of learners in a bully and harassment free environment. We have implemented an exciting new program: R.O.A.R. (Respect, Order, Attitude, Responsibility. This is a Positive School-wide Discipline Program, in conjunction with the Virginia Department of Education. Incentives such as drawings for prizes (like bicycles and TVs) for kids with no referrals, positive ROAR postcards home, teacher incentives, and a student mentor program to build an upbeat, positive learning environment. The Park provides its students with the mechanisms and skills needed to master the critical challenges and demands of the 21st century in a committed and caring environment.