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Colonial Beach Elementary will relocate to church

The 280 displaced students of Colonial Beach Elementary will soon be returning to school.

The Colonial Beach School Board voted unanimously Wednesday night to temporarily relocate the school to Oak Grove Baptist Church, about six miles from the town.

Amanda Preston, the director of curriculum and instruction for the school division, said when she called her pastor at the church to ask for prayers, she didn’t expect him to offer the church for the school’s use.

A fire Sunday ravaged the building that was once Colonial Beach High School and later the middle school. It was vacant at the time of the fire, but was being used for storage.

The nearby elementary school, which surrounds the former high school, falls into what officials consider the “collapse zone” of the burned building. 

At Wednesday’s work session, Schools Superintendent Kathleen Beane presented four options to the School Board about where to relocate the students, at least temporarily. The four options were put together by several school officials.

School Board Chairman Tim Trivett emphasized to the 100 or so parents and other community members at the work session Wednesday that their priority is the safety of the students.

Beane presented the pros and cons of each option before making a recommendation to the board.

Relocating to Oak Grove was the staff’s recommendation, and the board agreed.

The other three options included:

Move all the students to King George Middle School, which has been vacant for six years and is about 17 miles from the town.

Divide the students by grade level and send them to different locations throughout the town.

Come up with a staggered time schedule for the students to use the high school.

Beane outlined the advantages and disadvantages of relocating to the church.


It keeps the students and staff together in one location.

It requires minimum disruption of school routines.

Full food service preparation is available.

The buses could drop off and pick up the students at a single location (as opposed to the students being spread out).

Network access is available.

There is ample parking for staff, parents and visitors.

There is already a traffic flow configuration.

The school hours and schedule could be kept consistent.

It is handicapped accessible.

It’s available in a time frame that would get the students back to school quickly.

It is in close proximity to resources.

It is “nearly turnkey” for students and staff.


Transportation would be necessary for any students walking to school.

The bus schedule would need to be altered.

It’s not located within the town limits.

School Board members asked questions about each of the options, but almost instantly favored the church option because it seemed to make the most sense logistically and they could move quickly to get the students in there.

Officials have not made any decisions about the building that burned.

Trivett said they are awaiting information on the cause of the fire from state officials.

Robyn Sidersky 540/374-5413


Beach native Torrey Smith offer help to hometown

Colonial Beach native and Baltimore Ravens wide receiver Torrey Smith stepped up to the plate this week to help his hometown and former school after a fire destroyed the building Sunday.

Smith and his mother, Monica Jenkins, a 1990 graduate of Colonial Beach High School, have offered the help of The Torrey Smith Foundation, which provides support to at-risk youth, to raise money and collect needed supplies lost in the fire.

“It was very, very touching and my heart saddened,” Jenkins said in a phone interview. “I have a lot of memories in that school,” she said.

Jenkins said as soon as feasible the foundation will meet and strategize how to help.

After learning of the fire, Smith took to social media to pledge his support for his former elementary school.

Though the building that burned was vacant for two years, it stored supplies for the district.

The attached gym didn’t burn, but suffered water and smoke damage.

Various pieces of equipment, furniture and school supplies will need to be replaced. For information about how to help, email Drifter Donations can be sent to: Colonial Beach High School, 100 First Street Colonial Beach, VA 22443.

—Robyn Sidersky


Below is a list of several area businesses and organizations that have set up fundraising events for the school:

Jan. 12, 26: Benefit at Smokin’ Ron’s BBQ; Noon to 4 p.m., 15411 Dahlgren Road, King George

Jan. 18: Spaghetti dinner at Colonial Beach High School held by the donation committee. $10 adults, $5 kids

Jan. 25: Live and silent auction at Dockside Restaurant & Blue Heron Pub 5–8 p.m., 1787 Castlewood Drive, Colonial Beach

Jan. 26: Cut-a-thon at Outlooks for Hair in Stafford. 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., 1515 Stafford Marketplace, Stafford