In the 21st century, Springvale Elementary saw to the education of the children of Virginia's rural communities. When not attending classes the students played baseball in the school playground. The school was overseen by a local school board which was a strong supporter of community-based programs promoting family reading nights. It was severely damaged during the Great War with the three upper floors completely destroyed and the side of the building facing the Potomac River torn open, exposing staff and students sheltering inside. The school sat abandoned for two centuries.
In 2277 an opportunistic band of raiders established a base in the school building which they used as a base of operations to raid the surrounding areas. The raiders marked the building with graffiti and built makeshift cages to house their victims. From this base, the raiders attacked trade caravans, abducted wastelanders, and even attempted to raid nearby Megaton. The raid on the settlement failed, resulting in the death of the raider Boppo and a failure to steal any loot. The surviving raiders ran for their lives fleeing from Lucas Simms and the sniper Stockholm. In an effort to make up for this loss the raiders targeted the nearby Vault 101, beginning an ambitious engineering project to gain access to the vault.
The engineering project envisioned by the raiders was an underground tunnel into Vault 101. Captured wastelanders, addressed by the gang as 'scabs', were pressed into service as diggers. A while after the project had been started, the raiders thought it would be a good idea to use explosives under the school to quicken the pace of their digging; the blasts caused some minor damage to the school. Later after that, during the construction, they encountered unexpected resistance from a hive of hostile giant ants who killed seven of the tunnelers. Faced with a threat that could quickly turn catastrophic, the raiders decided to abandon the project completely, lock the door to the tunnel entrance, and place sentries in the school's basement. The other raiders returned to the two other floors. Some raiders took up positions in the exposed interior of the school, scanning for intruders. This is the situation that the Lone Wanderer encounters upon entering the occupied school.
The school faces west. A parking lot and children's playground are in front of the school, while a baseball field is behind the school. A large sign southwest of the school identifies the building. When built, the school was a five-story structure with a basement.
This is the uppermost floor of the school accessible. The floor can be entered from the outside by a door in a northern wall reached by a staircase, and stairways from the ground floor within the school. This floor has a library with a storage room, a corridor converted by the raider leader into their sleeping quarters, and a balcony overlooking the foyer. The door to the raider leader's quarters from the library is locked, and can only be opened by either lockpicking the door or using the Springvale library key which can be obtained by killing the raider leader's second in command.
This is the ground floor of the school. This floor is entered from the outside by the main entrance, and by stairways from the upper floor and the basement. These were the rooms on this floor: a foyer, a kitchen, two classrooms, a gentlemen's restroom, a ladies' restroom, and a storage room. In the exposed interior of the school, there is a classroom and a break room.
This is the basement of the school. This floor is entered from the outside by a door in the exposed interior of the school, and stairways from the ground floor. There are two rooms, one of them a storeroom, within the covered interior of the school. In the exposed interior of the school, there is a locker room and a restroom.
The mining tunnel was the construction project initiated by the raiders in order to get into the vault. It begins in the larger of the two intact rooms of the basement. This room is protected by a very hard lock door. 100 lockpicking skill, or obtaining the basement key by killing the raider leader, can open the door. This tunnel is guarded by giant ants.
In the tunnel, there is a fork. The path to the left leads to a chamber populated by ants, and the path to the right leads to a dead end. Upon entering the chamber, two groups of three worker ants will arrive from separate directions. The tunnel ends abruptly south of the school under the ruins of Springvale, however, the compass reading is misleading due to a computer glitch (see Spatial Orientation issues).
To the northeast, one will come across a derelict building on the water. Having completed The Waters of Life, there will be an Enclave base set up with at least two soldiers and an officer. Similar to the outpost near the Nuka-Cola plant, the Enclave soldiers here appear to be low ranking trainees or recruits, as they lack helmets, are equipped only with laser pistols, and possess extremely poor condition equipment. They can be found doing push-ups under the supervision of the officer.
The Enclave is conducting research at this location as their terminal reports mainly on mirelurks and radroaches. Mirelurks and a mirelurk king can be found in the lake nearby and may attack the player character. The building in the center has a crater that glows and gives off up to 3 rads per second.
If Broken Steel is installed, after Take it Back! is completed, the Enclave officer here can be found executing their own troops. Both the officer and the Enclave soldiers (if they are saved by the player character) remain hostile.
The school is inhabited by at least 10 raiders and their leader. The leader has a raider guard dog. In a chamber under the school, there is a hive of giant ants. Two of their victims, both wastelanders, lie where they fell.
- Nuka-Cola Quantum - on the top floor, above the cage as one enters the school from the main entrance, on the west side of the school. Access by jumping down onto the cage from the second floor, or shooting the bottle off of the cage.
- Duck and Cover! - to the left of the raider leader's terminal on the top floor. This particular copy is one of three oversized copies of the skill book.
- Sheet music book - in the south-eastern classroom on the ground floor (the room opposite the letters ABCDEFG on the wall). The sheet music book is resting on the "backplate" of a flipped teacher's desk.
- Chinese Army: Special Ops Training Manual - springvale lower level (after obtaining raider's key). Near the assault rifle in the ant tunnel, underneath a dead wastelander.
- One cannot enter the ant hive without setscale console commands - the hive is a dead end.
- The Springvale raiders' story can be found in a terminal in one of the hallways of the school library.
- There are several jail cells in the school, some of them with small, children skeletons in it. How they got in there and died is unknown.
- It's possible to overhear a conversation between two raiders on the ground floor. The conversations vary. Some of them are just altercations where one raider doesn't like the way the other is looking at them. One of the more interesting conversations is about inexperienced raiders going up north and running into 'monsters,' then coming back screaming about 'claws of death.'
- If you approach on the side with the door opening into "Springvale Elementary" and continue on and around the broken wall, follow the path that leads downward. As you reach the bottom, look to your right. There should be a poster there with a turtle and a bomb. On the bottom part of the picture, it will show the turtle in its shell with the bomb exploding next to it. This is a reference to the famous short film produced by the U.S. Federal Civil Defense Administration named Duck and Cover (the inspiration for the skill book of the same name).
- On the school's exterior, the main entrance faces west. Yet, when in the building, the main entrance faces south. This is best documented on page 320 of the Fallout 3 Official Game Guide.
- Behind the school there is a fenced-in electrical tower. Under the tower, there are several radioactive waste barrels where there are a first aid kit and a hunting rifle. You can get to them by lockpicking through the Easy level locked gate.
The Springvale school appears only in Fallout 3.
- The ground in front of the school is occasionally glitched, so the player can see the bottom, similar to the noclip console command for PC. The school may also have unusual triangular spikes jutting through the walls. [verified]
- If you move any of the barrels (or possibly anything) in the foyer they will disappear from sight, but if you jump on and/or move them they re-appear and then disappear again. [verified]
- Northeast of the school near the water is a pier. If you go onto the pier and pick up the Nuka Cola, it will cause your game to crash shortly thereafter. [verified]