This blog post was written by John G. Gabriel, Principal of the new Independence High School in Brambleton, VA. Follow along with Mr. Gabriel’s journey on the building of the new school on his blog, Principal Reflections.
From as early as when I was announced as the principal of Independence High School, all I heard from people was how excited the community was for Independence! As much as my ego tried to persuade me that it was because of me, I know better: it’s about Independence. And rightfully and understandably so. Let me tell you why.
I quickly learned that the community was excited to have a high school back in Brambleton. If you are unaware of the history, Briar Woods had previously been known as the “Brambleton high school,” so when Brambleton students were rezoned for Rock Ridge five years ago, Briar Woods then mainly pulled its students from Broadlands. There was a feeling of loss in “downtown Brambleton,” as it was called for many years by the football announcers at Briar Woods games. And so with the arrival of Independence, the excitement was palpable to have a high school that Brambleton could call its own.
And so with that excitement already bubbling in the community, we have been working hard to cultivate relationships and to further build upon this enthusiasm in many different ways. But we cannot do it alone. Opening a new school is a heavy lift in so many ways and areas. As such, we are very fortunate to have such an invested partner in Independence, specifically in the Soave Real Estate Group.
In opening a new school, we are very fortunate in that LCPS has a standard to ensure that we have a level playing field with other schools in regards to equipment, materials, and things like that. But to open a school successfully, to establish a positive culture and climate from before the school opens, to create a feeling of community, that takes more than what the county provides to new schools.
The Soave Real Estate Group understands this because that is part of vision they developed 18 years ago: to build more than a home, to build a community. And so with Independence helping to anchor this great community, Mr. Anthony Soave’s willingness to assist us was immediate—and greatly appreciated. A dedicated philanthropist, Mr. Soave, along with Mr. Fox, the chief operating officer, understands and values the importance of schools and community. He has ensured that community groups and schools with greater needs in places like Detroit receive the support they need; however, he is also keenly aware that even in an affluent community like Brambleton, it’s possible for a school to have needs too—just different ones. And so I am thankful for his generosity which has helped Independence High School establish itself in Brambleton. It is an exciting time to be a part of this community, and if you are not, then it is time to come home to Brambleton.