Washington-Lee High School

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Washington-Lee High School
Washleearlington.jpg
Address
1301 North Stafford Street
Arlington, Virginia, 22201
United States
Coordinates 38°53′13″N 77°06′35″W / 38.886891°N 77.109690°W / 38.886891; -77.109690Coordinates: 38°53′13″N 77°06′35″W / 38.886891°N 77.109690°W / 38.886891; -77.109690
Information
School type Public, high school
Founded 1925
School district Arlington Public Schools
Principal Gregg Robertson
Assistant principals Antonio Hall
Paul Jamelske
Margarita Cruz
Claire Peters[1]
Grades 9–12
Enrollment 2,030 (2011)
Campus Suburban
Color(s) Blue and Gray
Athletics conference National District Northern Region
Nickname Generals
Rivals Wakefield High School, Yorktown High School
Website

Washington-Lee High School (often simply called "W-L") is one of three traditional public high schools in the Arlington Public Schools district in Arlington, Virginia, covering grades 9-12. As of 2011, the school had over 2,000 students and 120 teachers. In 2010, W-L was listed at # 63 in Newsweek's listing of "America's Best High Schools," and # 3 in the state of Virginia.[2]

From 2006-2009, Washington-Lee underwent a complete reconstruction, costing Arlington County nearly $100 million and making it one of the most expensive high school construction projects in the United States.[3]

History[edit]

The school was named after Generals George Washington and Robert E. Lee.[4]

Construction on Washington-Lee began in 1924, with the school opening its doors in 1925 and graduating its first class in 1927. The architectural firm Upman & Adams designed the building in a simplified version of the Colonial Revival style. The school fronted on 13th St. N, which separated the school from its athletic field, eventually dedicated as Arlington County's War Memorial Stadium. In 1932, 41 classrooms, new offices, and another gym were added to the original building. A new wing and a large library with Palladian windows and two reading rooms were built in 1942 with WPA funds. The rifle range was also constructed in the shop area. In 1951, noted architect Rhees Burkett designed an addition that fronted on N. Quincy Street in the International Style. Along with the new Stratford Junior High School, it helped usher in a wave of contemporary commercial and school architecture that defined much of Arlington until the 1980s.

In 1960, some Sophomores and Juniors were sent to form the core of the then new Yorktown High School, to relieve overcrowding resulting from the new generation, Baby boomers.

In 1975, the school board made the controversial decision to demolish the original sections of W-L and construct a new facility with an open space instructional environment. The new school opened in 1977, and a new auditorium was constructed a few years later. In 1984, with the introduction of a new "closed campus" policy for underclassmen, a cafeteria was constructed in the school's commons.[5]

In 2009, the school underwent a complete reconstruction; none of the older buildings remain. The theater and nearby classrooms were demolished to allow for the construction of the new classroom building, which opened in January 2008. An axial orientation to War Memorial Stadium and the primary parking areas is the defining characteristic of the new school. A ten-lane regulation NCAA short course swimming pool (with optional 25 meter lanes), gym and other indoor athletic facilities, and an 800-seat auditorium opened to the public in July 2009. The demolition of the 1951 building and the construction of auxiliary athletic fields and additional landscaping was completed in December 2009.

Campus[edit]

The new four-story building frames the northern end of War Memorial Stadium, referencing the orientation of the original three story 1924 building. A stepped terrace leads to the field from the school's student commons and outdoor eating areas. The school's primary corridor on the ground floor is the focal point for the more public spaces, which include the performing arts center, student commons, alumni conference room, cyber cafe, and journalism suite. It spans the distance between the commons and a primary entrance with access to a multistory parking structure and bus lanes. A public entrance is located on N Stafford St, and a separate public entrance serves the pool.

The compact massing of the new building allowed for the construction of additional athletic fields on land previously occupied by the former school. The orientation of the new school within the surrounding open space and the abundant pedestrian connections across the site that connect neighborhoods adhere to Arlington County's urban design guidelines, which follow "smart growth" planning principles. The new building was certified LEED gold by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) rating system, the second high school in Virginia to achieve that benchmark.[6]

Crossed sabres logo above the bleachers at Washington-Lee, 2011

Academics[edit]

Since the 1950s, W-L has received national recognition for its academic programs. W-L was the first high school in the country to exempt qualified seniors from final exams during the '58-'59 academic year. In the 1960s, Time Magazine named W-L the second best public high school in the nation. The Ladies Home Journal also grouped W-L with an elite list that included New Trier in Winnetka, IL, and the Bronx High School of Science. In 1985, W-L was named a National (Blue Ribbon) School of Excellence by the US Department of Education.[7] The school has also received honors from the Virginia Board of Education and the Virginia Department of Education. In 2007, Newsweek Magazine ranked Washington-Lee 33rd among the nation's top high schools.[8]

W-L offers courses required as part of a standard high school curriculum (Math, Social Science, English, Science,Physical Education). Beyond these courses, the school offers elective classes in Computer Science, Business, Art, Music, Foreign Languages, Drama, Psychology, and Tech Education. The school also runs a HILT (high-intensity language training) program for students who are not well-versed in English.

Washington-Lee is the only school in Arlington that offers both the Advanced Placement Program as well as the International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme.[9] 450 of its students take advantage of these advanced courses or diploma programs.[10]

Fine arts[edit]

The school offers fine arts courses and electives. Within the music department, electives include the marching and symphonic bands, madrigals, choir, orchestra, music theory, and guitar. In 2007, the music department received the Blue Ribbon Award, the highest award given by the Virginia Music Educators Association.[11] The school is also a blue ribbon school for 2010-2011.

Demographics[edit]

The school boasts a diverse student population, representing more than 20 countries around the world. The student population is 41.0% White, 31.0% Hispanic, 10.9% Black, 10.9% Asian, and 0.4% American Indian.[12] 140 of its students receive English as a second language, or ESL.[13]

Sons and daughters of prominent Washington families have attended W-L, and the attendance area includes some of the region's most affluent neighborhoods. W-L also draws students from middle and low-income areas throughout Arlington, and this helps account for the socio-economic diversity of the student body.

The attendance area includes neighborhoods both suburban and urban in character. North Arlington neighborhoods: Dover Crystal, Riverwood, Woodmont, Maywood, Lyon Village, Lyon Park, Ashton Heights, Cherrydale, Ballston/Virginia Square, Waycroft-Woodlawn, Tara-Leeway Heights, Waverly Hills, Stonewall Jackson, Dominion Hills, Madison Manor, Arlington Forest, Buckingham, Fort Myer, Bluemont. South Arlington neighborhoods: Glencarlyn, Columbia Heights West, Arlington View.

Most current W-L students matriculate from Swanson, Kenmore, and Thomas Jefferson for grades 6-8 and Taylor, Barrett, Science Focus, Glen Carlyn or McKinley for K-5. However, students in the IB Program may reside in any part of the county and can transfer from their home school.

Test scores[edit]

Washington-Lee High School is a fully accredited high school base on its performance on the Standards of Learning tests in Virginia. W-L's average SAT score in 2007 was a 1,095 (548 in Reading; 548 in Math).[14]

As of 2011, Washington-Lee High School met or exceeded the Virginia average passing rate for the majority of SOL exam categories [15]

Athletics[edit]

The school mascot is the "Generals." The men's crew team was started in 1949 and the women's crew team in 1975. The crew teams have won 31 SRA (Scholastic Rowing Association) National Championships (Men's Varsity 8). W-L boats in other events have also won at both Nationals and Stotesbury. Washington-Lee Crew has competed seven times at Henley, winning it twice. The crew team has also produced four national team members, and three Olympians.[16] The crew team rows from the Potomac Boat Club boathouse in Georgetown along the Potomac River. The 1960 football team won the Virginia State Championship. The team was dubbed The Untouchables by the local press because they were unscored upon for the first half of the season.[citation needed]

All other athletic teams, as well as many scholastic competitions, compete through the Virginia High School League.

List of Teams[edit]

Boys Athletics[edit]

Girls Athletics[edit]

Notable alumni[edit]

References[edit]