Verbum Sap Sat
(A Word to the Wise is Sufficient)
|4100 North Vacation Lane
Arlington, Virginia, 22207
|School type||Public Alternative-education program|
|School district||Arlington Public Schools|
|Superintendent||Dr. Patrick Murphy, APS|
|Principal||Dr. Frank Haltiwanger|
Casey Robinson (middle school)Graham McBride
|Enrollment||606 (Fall 2010)|
The H-B Woodlawn Program, commonly referred to as H-B, is an alternative all-county public school located in Arlington County, Virginia, United States based on the liberal educational movements of the 1960s and 1970s. The school, which serves grades 6 through 12, is a part of the Arlington Public Schools district.
The current program is a combination of two earlier programs, Hoffman-Boston, a 7th through 9th grade school founded in 1972 and Woodlawn, a 10th through 12th grade program founded in 1971 by Ray Anderson, Jeffrey Kallen, Bill Hale, and others who felt a pressing need to provide a more individualized, caring environment to students.
Two schools become one
The Hoffman-Boston Program (founded in 1972) and the Woodlawn Program (founded in 1971), junior high and high school programs respectively, which both embraced the idea of alternative education. Originally, Hoffman-Boston had some 180 students. Woodlawn had 90 students, grades 11 and 12, in its first year of operation, adding 10th grade and expanding to some 135 students the second year. Donald Brandewie was the founding principal of Hoffman-Boston and served for three years, after which Margery Edson became principal. Woodlawn, which was then a haven for "anti-establishment" types, had no principal. Ray Anderson served as Head Teacher and served as administrator for the program. With dwindling school populations in Arlington County in the mid-1970s, there was a belief that 9th grade should be moved up from the (then) Junior High Schools to the High Schools. This move would have impacted negatively on the two programs, so a movement started to merge, which was ordered by the School Board in 1977 to take place in the fall of 1978. After a year of careful planning, discussion, and hard work by administration, staff, students, and alumni of the two programs, a comprehensive merger plan and combined philosophy was adopted, and this document served as the "blueprint" for the initial years of the combined program. The two schools joined in the former Stratford Junior High School building on Vacation Lane in the fall of 1978. (In an unrelated note, Stratford Junior High School was the first racially integrated school in Arlington, bringing an end to "Massive Resistance" in the state in the 1950s). The Stratford Junior High School building was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2004.
H-B Woodlawn was rated 1st in the 2005 Challenge Index in the area. It received an Equity and Excellence rating of 82.7% that year. In the 2006 survey by Newsweek ranking high schools nation-wide, H-B Woodlawn ranked several slots below its previous position - 13 (compared with number 5 in the 2005 survey).
There is some controversy in ranking H-B Woodlawn nationally as a "school." Students do not actually receive diplomas from H-B Woodlawn, but rather their home schools from around Arlington county.
Every Thursday morning, there is a "Town Meeting" in the library. Here, students, teachers, and parents alike can vote on important school issues and make announcements to the school. In Town Meeting, participants use a silent method of agreeing and disagreeing using their hands (a "fist nod" to agree).
The school's motto is Verbum Sap Sat, short for the Latin Verbum sapienti sat est, meaning "A Word to the Wise is Sufficient." 
H-B Woodlawn is run on the belief that left with responsibilities, students will learn and get work done. They are given privileges such as going off campus, going to Town Meeting, etc.
Another tradition is the Teacher/Senior Play, at the beginning of the year, and the Teacher Play, at the end of the year. Since 1971, it has been tradition for the students to interrupt the Head Teacher (now Principal), of not allowing him to speak for roughly five minutes any time the Head Teacher speaks at the school.
Before Thanksgiving break, H-B's physical education teachers organize the Turkey Bowl, where the junior and senior face off in flag football.
The most notable tradition is H-B graduation. It takes places in their gym. It is generally informal (family and friends are encouraged to bring lawn chairs). Each Teacher Adviser presents their graduating seniors and write a two to five minute speech about their experience at H-B. This unorthodox practice makes H-B's graduation much longer than most high school graduations. In addition to the speeches, teacher advisers present their students with gag gifts and leis. At the end of graduation (as well as at the end of the year play), H-B's principal, Frank, and other faculty perform renditions of "Feet of a Dancer" by Charlie McGettigan.. Students are encouraged to sing along.
Another familiar song at H-B is "Bohemian Rhapsody" by Queen. It is last song played at prom, or the last spring dance. Students traditionally form a swaying circle and sing the lyrics.
- Urban Arlington County, Arlington Historic Society
- "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. 2010-07-09.
- hbwoodlawn.org - The Official Webpage pf H-B Woodlawn Retrieved April 4, 2007
- Report of the Hoffman-Boston/Woodlawn Merger Committee. Retrieved April 4, 2007
- Farewell to hippie high Horwitt, D. (2004, June 13). The Washington Post. Retrieved April 4, 2007