McLean High School
|McLean High School|
1633 Davidson Road
|School type||Public, high school|
|School district||Fairfax County Public Schools|
|Student to teacher ratio||17.38|
|Color(s)||Red and silver ██|
|Feeder schools||Longfellow Middle School|
|Rival schools||Langley High School|
Madison High School
George C. Marshall High School
|Athletic conferences||Liberty District|
McLean High School is a public school located in McLean, Virginia best known for academic achievement and an award-winning band program. It is located on 1633 Davidson Road and is part of Fairfax County Public Schools. In its 2019 report on the top high schools in the United States, U.S. News & World Report rated McLean the 127th best high school in the nation and the third-best high school in the State of Virginia, behind Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology and rival Langley High School, awarding the school "Gold Medal" status and making it the second-best non-magnet school in Fairfax County behind their rival school, Langley High School.
The 22 acre tract was purchased for $32,443 for the future McLean High School August 6, 1952. MHS opened its doors September 6, 1955 with enrollment of 1031 students grades 8 through 11 with Principal Craighill S. Burks. At the time it was the newest High School in Fairfax County, and the only high school in McLean since the late 1930s Franklin Sherman School. The town of McLean received its name from John Roll McLean, one of the founders of the Washington and Old Dominion Railways. A railroad stop was named after McLean and it was at the intersection of Old Dominion Drive and Chain Bridge Road; about a mile from the school. The community was formed about four years later. The public school opened its doors in 1955 and celebrated the 50th reunion in 2005.
In the 2018–19 school year, McLean High School's student body was:
- 55.2% White
- 24.8% Asian/Pacific Islander
- 11.1% Hispanic
- 3.4% Black
- 5.5% Other Races
- 49% Female
- 51% Male
McLean High School is a fully accredited high school based on the Standards of Learning tests in Virginia. The average SAT score for McLean's Class of 2018 was 1308 (including both Critical Reading and Writing and Math), the third-highest among Fairfax County's 25 high schools.
The school plays in the Liberty District and the Group 6A North Region. Their mascot is the Highlander, a soldier in a Scottish regiment from the Highlands. Their primary rival school is Langley High School, which is also in McLean. McLean's football team finished the 1980 season 10–1, and in 1995 played Virginia powerhouse Hampton High in the State semi-final when they finished 12–1. They also went to the playoffs in 1992, 1996, 1997, 2009, 2010 and 2011.
The Highlanders baseball team is one of the most successful programs at the school, capturing numerous district titles and regional playoff berths. From 2006 to 2012, they were coached by John Thomas (MHS '96, Virginia '00) and compiled an impressive 60–31 record as well as district and regional playoff berths every year. In 2009 the Highlanders captured the Liberty District regular season and tournament titles. The Highlanders ended the season with a 1–0 loss to Centreville High School in the first round of the region tournament. In 2010, the Highlanders repeated as regular-season champions and compiled a 17–3 record, 13–1 in the district and finished 19–5. The Highlanders entered the 2010 season ranked #1 by the Northern Region coaches poll and held the rank for the entire season. The Washington Post ranked McLean as the 2nd best team in the Northern Virginia/Southern Maryland/DC metro area the entire season. The Highlanders failed to win the District, falling to James Madison High School in the title game. They advanced to the quarterfinals of the Northern Region Tournament where they lost 13–10 to Oakton High School. In 2014, under new head coach John Dowling, the Highlanders were the Region 6A North runner-up to Chantilly High School, thereby qualifying for the state tournament for the first time in the school's history. In 2019, the baseball team won the Liberty District championship with John Dowling as the coach.
The Highlanders were one of the top teams in the Northern Region in the 1990s, winning the region title in 1995. They have won numerous district titles as well. The Highlanders began a slow fall from the top of the hill starting around 2001. The Highlanders had losing seasons from 2002–2009.
After an 0–10 campaign in 2008, the 2009 team rebounded to 6–5 and made the northern region playoffs, losing in the first round to Robert E. Lee High School. Their 6 wins broke the VHSL record for the best turn around by a team. The Highlanders have started the 2010 season 8–0 overall and 5–0 in district play, the best start to the program in 15 years. Head coach Jim Patrick's career regular-season record currently stands at 21–22, his current career district record is 10–11, and his current playoff record is 0–3. The Highlanders began their 2010 campaign preseason-ranked last in the district by the Washington Post, with a 1-star rating according to the online preview. The Highlanders started the 2010 season with a surprising 8–0 record before losing to Stone Bridge 38–0, lost the next week to archrival Langley 56–12 and then lost in the first round of the playoffs as they were seeded 3rd and lost to the visiting 6th seed Hayfield Secondary School Hawks of Alexandria, VA. The Highlanders finished 8–3.
McLean's 2011 season was another successful season for the Highlanders. The Highlanders went 6–4 in the regular season, beating archrival Langley High School 21–0 to close the regular season. The Highlanders then went over the Arlington the next week for the playoffs and fell to eventual Division 5 runner-up Yorktown High School 20–6. At the conclusion of the 2011 season, it was announced that Coach Patrick would be promoted to Athletics Director and McLean had hired Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology Defensive Coordinator Dennis Worek as the new head coach. After a 5–5 season in 2013 Worek retired, and was replaced with Shaun Blair, a former assistant coach from Lake Braddock Secondary School, as McLean's head football coach.
In McLean's 2016 season, the Highlanders' varsity team went 1–11, while their JV team was 2–10, and their freshmen team was 0–8. The varsity team's only win was against Fairfax High School (Fairfax, Virginia), which was the homecoming game. The Highlanders were down by 3 points when the last play of the game was a field goal by Fairfax. A McLean player blocked the field goal and another McLean player, John Corvari, returned it for a touchdown, handing McLean their only win. This ending to the game was reported on multiple local news outlets as a miracle for McLean.
The Highlanders boys basketball team is coached by Mike O'Brien and previously was coached by Kevin Roller. In the 2011–12 season, the Highlander boys won the Liberty District. The team lost to Westfield High School in the regional semifinals after beating Centreville High School and Lake Braddock Secondary School in the early rounds of the regional tournament. In the 2018–19 season, the boys compiled a 17–10 record and finished tied for second in the Liberty District behind South Lakes High School. During the regional playoffs, the Highlanders defeated Oakton High School, for their first regional win since 2012, before falling to Patriot High School. The Highlanders girls basketball team is coached by Jen Sobota and defeated South Lakes High School to win the Liberty District championship in 2018–19, compiling an 18–7 record.
McLean's soccer program has consistently been among the stronger programs in the Northern Virginia region of the VHSL League. With the competitive travel soccer players of Northern Virginia and other notable foreign students joining the program, both varsity teams have enjoyed success, and the McLean girls team won the 2011 State Championship. The boy's team finished 7-3-1 with a young team in 2011, and in 2010 were knocked out of the state tournament by state runners-up Battlefield High School in penalties, with a final score of 2–2. They were coached by Mike Anderson 07'-11' and will now be headed by GMU varsity player Ben Paris. Whether it be club or varsity soccer this program consistently sends players to competitive D1 colleges, such as James Madison, Radford, George Mason, Kentucky and Central Florida just to name a few.
The Highlanders are a founding member of the Northern Virginia Scholastic Hockey League, and have made the playoffs 9 times in the last 12 years. Under the guidance of head coach John Sherlock, The Highlanders advanced to the 2010–2011 NVSHL championship game before falling 7–2 to the Stone Bridge Bulldogs. Many of the Highlanders have gone on to play in collegiate clubs around the United States and Canada.
State championships and runner-up finishes
- AAA Girls Field Hockey in 1986
- AAA Softball in 2010
- AAA Girls Soccer in 2011
- 6A Girls Gymnastics in 2015
- 6A Girls Gymnastics in 2017
- 6A Boys Tennis in 2017
- VSRA Boys Varsity Crew in 2018
- VSRA Boys Varsity Crew in 2019
State Runner-up finishes
- AAA Wrestling in 1970 and 1971
- AAA Field Hockey in 1982
- AAA Boys Soccer in 1995
- AAA Field Hockey in 2001
- AAA Girls Tennis in 2010
- NVSHL Varsity Hockey in 2011
McLean has also finished 1st place in the AAA Wachovia Cup for Academics in the 1999–2000 year.
In 2009, the Mclean Highlanders football team made its first trip to the playoffs in 12 years. They finished 6–5, after going 0–10 in 2008; the largest turnaround in state history. The season highlight came in beating rival school Langley High School in a 35–34 overtime bout, winning the Rotary Cup, the trophy given to the winner of every sporting match between the two schools, and the Battle of the Scots for the 1st time in 12 years.
McLean's band program is currently conducted by Chris Weise, who took over the direction of the band at the beginning of the 2008–2009 school year. Jim Kirchenbauer, who had been the conductor since 1982, was forced to step down from his position early because of serious health concerns. Under Mr. Kirchenbauer, the McLean band was awarded many honors, such as the Sudler Flag of Honor, an award granted by the John Phillip Sousa Foundation for consistent superior musical performance, in 2000, and again in 2018 under the direction of Chris Weise. McLean remains one of only seven bands in the country who have earned the award twice. The band also traveled to the Midwest Clinic in 2006, one of the most prestigious performances a high school band can achieve.
Mclean's concert band program is divided into three main ensembles: the Concert Band, the Wind Ensemble, and the Symphonic Band (the school's premiere band). McLean also has two award-winning jazz bands under the direction of Scott Weinhold and a chamber winds program led by Deidra Denson, which performed at Music For All's 2018 Chamber Music National Festival in Indianapolis. McLean High School also has a marching band. Once the annual show is determined and created, the marching band practices for over 250 hours to achieve a final product. In both 2016 and 2017, the McLean Highlander Marching Band won the title of Virginia State Champions.
McLean's Choral program is currently conducted by Linda Martin. Under Martin, the McLean chorus is ranked 9th in the nation as of 2009, the only non-performing arts school in the top 10. Chorus has also received many high-level awards and honors at local and national competitions. The chorus program consists of four separate choruses: Women's, Men's, Armonia, and the Madrigals.
The McLean Orchestra program is currently conducted by McLean High School alumni Starlet Smith. It consists of four separate orchestras: Concert, Symphonic, Sinfonia, and Philharmonic. McLean belongs to District XII of the Virginia Band & Orchestra Directors Association. The McLean High School Philharmonic Orchestra has participated in a musical exchange program with sister school, Grabbe Gymnasium, located in Detmold, Germany for over 20 years. In alternating years, musicians from the Grabbe Gymnasium travel to McLean and collaborate on a joint concert with McLean High School's Philharmonic Orchestra, while McLean Philharmonic musicians travel to Detmold for a similar experience with their German counterparts.
The school considered itself "The Eagles" before becoming "The Highlanders". Girls' sports teams were known as "The Bald Eagles". The mascot was changed to its current form today in 1958 after a school-wide vote to instead reference 'the Scottish heritage' of McLean, Virginia, with boys teams being called The Highlanders, and girls The Lady Highlanders. However, the area is not known for having any significant Scottish settlements during its history. It is more likely that the name was inspired by the Union forces of the 79th New York "Highlanders", who fought a minor battle during the Civil War at nearby Lewinsville Park. The Highlander, whose picture appeared at midcourt of the gym until recent years when it was changed to an 'M', was named 'Angus'.
McLean also has an award-winning newspaper, The Highlander. In 2006, The Highlander was inducted into the high school newspaper Hall of Fame after ten consecutive years of being an "All American".
Two writers from the paper won the "National Story of the Year" awards while attending the school. The first was a feature story about the underage drinking that occurs at Friday parties in student homes. The other was a sports story that revealed that tobacco was being chewed on school grounds by some coaches and their players.
The Highlander has existed since the school opened. In 1956, it was named the Hilltop Highlights, but was changed in 1958 to The Highlander. Since the paper's first publication, it has gone from being a newspaper to a news magazine.
In 2012, the newspaper branched out into a website publication, The Highlander Online.
The Clan has been McLean's award-winning yearbook since the school's first year. In 2004, The Clan was inducted into the National Scholastic Press Association Hall of Fame after ten years of consecutively being "All American".
Committee For Students' Rights
In 2006, seven members of the senior class, calling themselves the Committee For Students' Rights, staged a protest against the plagiarism detection service Turnitin. The committee argued that the use of Turnitin was a violation of their intellectual property rights, put them in a situation where the guilt of all parties was assumed, and also violated student privacy as specified in FERPA. The students were interviewed for three articles in the Washington Post, received the services of an intellectual property attorney, and one of them, Ben Donovan, was featured on NBC's The Today Show. On March 27, 2007, four high school students, two from McLean, filed legal action against iParadigms LLC, the parent company of Turnitin.com. The lawsuit was filed in the United States District Court, Eastern District of Virginia, the jurisdiction where McLean lies. iParadigms counterclaimed, alleging one of the students hacked into its service. Approximately one year later, the district court granted summary judgment in favor of iParadigms and against the students based on the doctrine of fair use, and against iParadigms on their hacking claim because they failed to prove any monetary damages. Both parties appealed to the United States Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit. On April 16, 2009, the 4th Circuit court affirmed the district court's judgment against the students in favor of iParadigms, and reversed and remanded the judgment against iParadigms on the hacking claims.
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Notable McLean High School alumni include:
- Ann Sommovigo Moore (1968), CEO, Time, Inc.
- Sharyn Alfonsi (1990), Correspondent for ABC News. Reports and appears on World News with Charles Gibson, Good Morning America and Nightline.
- Aldrich Ames (1959), CIA officer. He was convicted in 1994 for spying for the Soviet Union. Ames' story is widely told in novels and movies, and was also featured on the March 7, 1994 cover of Time.
- Rose Arce (1982), CNN producer
- Leila Ben-Abdallah (2006), Comedian, Actor, Activist.
- Elizabeth Cheney (1984), former Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs, and current member of the U.S. House of Representatives from Wyoming's at-large district. She is also the daughter of former Vice President Dick Cheney.
- Mary Cheney (1987), daughter of former Vice President Dick Cheney.
- Eric Dorsey (1982), led McLean to a 10–1 season in 1981. Went to Notre Dame on a football scholarship and then got drafted 19th in the NFL draft by the New York Giants. Dorsey went on to start in Super Bowl XXV for the New York Giants.
- Duff Goldman (1992), baker, cake designer. He opened a bakery in Baltimore, Maryland and became the star of his own Food Network show, Ace of Cakes. He considers his McLean art teacher, Jeffrey Meizlik, his biggest inspiration.
- Seth Greisinger (1993), baseball player, played in 1996 Olympics (bronze medal), with Yomiuri Giants in 2009.
- Luke Kruytbosch, race track announcer at Churchill Downs.
- Giuseppe Lanzone (2001), member of the US Olympic rowing team at the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing. Lanzone sat 3 seat of the Men's Four w/o.
- Gloria Cordes Larson (1968), President of Bentley University.
- Jared Leto, lead singer of band Thirty Seconds to Mars, Oscar-winning actor and director attended for two years
- William F. Readdy (1970), astronaut. He has flown three missions during his career.
- Luis Felipe Restrepo (1977), federal judge. United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit.
- Josh Sborz (2012), baseball player, drafted by the Los Angeles Dodgers and named College World Series Most Valuable Player in 2015 while attending the University of Virginia 
- Sam Stitt (2000), member of the US Olympic rowing team at the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing. Stitt sat 2 seat of the Men's Quadruple Sculls.
- Tom Udall (1966), current United States Senator from New Mexico.
- Vern Yip (1986), interior designer who has appeared on design show Trading Spaces. He currently hosts the HGTV show Deserving Design.
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- Rosenmann, Alexandra. "Tunisian-American Comic Pokes Fun at the Censorship of Corrupt State-Sponsored News During the Arab Spring". alternet. Retrieved September 15, 2018.
- "#29, Eric Dorsey, McLean Football, 1982". Alexandria Gazette Packet. August 15, 2006. Archived from the original on December 18, 2011. Retrieved January 21, 2009.
- Nakamura, David (March 7, 2005). "A Scouting Williams Finds Fans on Nats' Roster". Washington Post. Retrieved January 21, 2009.
- USRowing - USRowing Athlete Profiles - USRowing.com Archived 2007-12-14 at the Wayback Machine
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