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First School In Va. To Integrate Continues To Diversify

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Burgundy Farm Country Day School was the first school in the state of Virginia to integrate.
Burgundy Farm Country Day School
Burgundy Farm Country Day School was the first school in the state of Virginia to integrate.

Diversity is something many schools strive for today, but the same couldn't be said in the 1950s. Burgundy Country Day School in Alexandria, however, was an exception.

"What occurred at this school was the beginning of something that just has continued to progress along in terms of the reform of society," says former student Tony Lewis.

Lewis was a kindergarten student at Burgundy in 1952; one of two African-American children in his class. The school had integrated two years earlier.

Gladys Cheek, who taught swimming and physical education at Burgundy, remembers the school's step forward.

"The beauty of working at Burgundy was that the school led the way with having students of all walks of life well before it was required," Cheek says.

And while Burgundy has changed since the '50s, the school's diversity director, Lashawn Sells, says the schools mission hasn't. One-third of its student body is now made up of minority students.

"We're in a global society now, so it's very fitting that our children learn from each other and grow from those experiences," Sells says.

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