U.S. News & World Report recently ranked Kingston Elementary and Old Donation School as the No. 1 elementary and middle schools in Virginia. Old Donation School, which has students in grades two through eight and is the home of the Edward E. Brickell Academy for Advanced Academics & Arts, was also ranked as the No. 2 elementary school in the state.
The school was established in 1957 and began classes on a half-day basis in Thalia Elementary School. In February 1958, when construction of the present building was completed, the faculty and students in grades one through eight, with their principal, Lee Land, moved into the permanent building. From its beginning a periodic gradual change of elimination of the highest grade has taken place; therefore, since the 1967-68 school terms, grade five has been the senior level in the building. The changes of grades were necessary due to the enrollment increases at the various grade levels, especially the lower grades.
The Primary Disabled Reading Program was transferred to the Aragona Elementary School in September 1972. Students enrolled in the special program are transported from the complete geographic area of the City of Virginia Beach. Kindergarten was the latest addition to the school curriculum and became an important part of the school in September 1973.
The facility was used in the 1980s as the adult learning center until 1994 when Virginia Beach City Public Schools moved to a middle school concept and sixth graders were housed at the Bayside 6th grade campus due to overcrowding at Bayside Middle School. In 2000, Bayside Middle School added a wing to the building and sixth graders were moved into the school and Kemps Landing Magnet School opened on October 25, 2001 for academically gifted students in Virginia Beach. It continued until the spring of 2014 when it was moved to Princess Anne Middle along with the Old Donation Center while a new school is built for these programs.
Research and experience have long told us that sixth grade is a time of transition and that this grade typically experiences higher retention and discipline rates. Research also has demonstrated the power of the smaller, more intimate school environment that allows for smaller class sizes and enables teachers and administrators to build stronger relationships with students and their families. This is a model that has worked in the past for the Bayside community.