Burgundy was founded by a group of parents united by their vision of a small, cooperatively owned school serving an ethnically, racially and economically diverse student body.
They chose an ideal setting for their school near Alexandria on a dairy farm with 25 rolling, partially wooded acres. In 1950, Burgundy actively recruited and enrolled African American students and became the first integrated school in Virginia. In 1967, Burgundy expanded its environmental focus by establishing a wildlife studies center in the mountains of West Virginia, giving students a second expansive campus to explore the wonders of the natural world and environmental science in great depth.
From its inception, Burgundy educated children in innovative ways. Students learned by doing. The school offered a nurturing atmosphere that inspired student creativity through the arts and developed student’s critical thinking skills with an integrated curriculum and hands-on projects. Burgundy students learned the value of cooperation and collaboration through group student projects and by watching parents and teachers work together in the true spirit of Burgundy.
Burgundy’s founders and parents pledged, "a part of ourselves, our time, our energy and skill of mind and body" to the school. Taking over an old dairy farm, parents cleaned and painted barns and farmhouses, creating classrooms and the school office. In the school’s early days, parents operated the library and admissions office. Today, parent participation continues to be a vital part of the life of the school. Parents help in classrooms and on overnight trips to the wildlife center, and they serve on the Board of Trustees and committees. Parent work is chiefly responsible for the success of such events as the Fall Fair and the Auction.
To listen to an audio history about the 1950s integration of Burgundy, click here.