McLean High School

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Coordinates: 38°55′28.53″N 77°11′13.31″W / 38.9245917°N 77.1870306°W / 38.9245917; -77.1870306

McLean High School
McLean High School is located in Northern Virginia
McLean High School
McLean High School
McLean High School is located in Virginia
McLean High School
McLean High School
McLean High School is located in the US
McLean High School
McLean High School
1633 Davidson Road
McLean, Virginia 22101
School type Public, high school
Founded 1955
School district Fairfax County Public Schools
Principal Ellen Reilly
Staff approximately 180
Grades 9–12
Enrollment 2,050 (2014)
Language English
Campus Suburban
Color(s) Red and silver
Mascot Highlanders
Feeder schools Longfellow Middle School
Rival schools Langley High School
Madison High School
George C. Marshall High School
Athletic conferences Liberty District
Northern Region

McLean High School is a public school located in McLean, Virginia. It is located on 1633 Davidson Road and is part of Fairfax County Public Schools. In its 2016 report on the top high schools in the United States, U.S. News & World Report rated McLean the 108th best high school in the nation and the second-best high school in the State of Virginia, awarding the school "Gold Medal" status.[1]


The 22 acre tract was purchased for $32,443 for the future McLean High School August 6, 1952.[2] MHS opened its doors September 6, 1955 with enrollment of 1031 students grades 8 through 11 with Principal Craighill S. Burks.[3] 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.[3] 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 a 50th reunion in 2005.[4]


In the 2015-2016 school year, McLean High School's student body was:

  • 58.4% White
  • 21.8% Asian/Pacific Islander
  • 12.2% Hispanic
  • 2.6% Black
  • 5.0% Other Races

Test scores[edit]

McLean High School is a fully accredited high school based on the Standards of Learning tests in Virginia. The average SAT scores for McLean's Class of 2015 were 618 in Critical Reading, 630 in Math, and 604 in Writing, the second highest among Fairfax County's 25 high schools.[5]


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 2006-12, 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 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.


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 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.


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 boys 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.

Ice Hockey[edit]

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. Notably, Michigan University, University of Maryland, Binghamton University, Miami University, Penn State, Radford University, and East Carolina University.

State championships and runner-up finishes[edit]

State Championships

State Runner-up finishes

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.

Music programs[edit]

McLean's band program is currently conducted by Chris Weise, who took over 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. The band also traveled to the Midwest Clinic in 2006, one of the most prestigious performances a high school band can achieve. McLean High School also has a marching band. In 2005, band students put together a McLean Pep Band to play at away games.

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 three separate orchestras: Concert, Symphonic, 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 the past 17 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' sport 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.[6] 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".[7]

Two writers from the paper won "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.[8]


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".[7]

Committee For Students' Rights[edit]

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 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 The lawsuit was filed in 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.[9]

Notable alumni[edit]

Notable McLean High School alumni include:


  1. ^
  2. ^ "Fairfax Due For 2.4 Million In School Aid". The Washington Post. August 6, 1952. 
  3. ^ a b Smith, Marie D. (September 27, 1955). "'Community Spirit' Guides McLean High". The Washington Post and Times Hearld. 
  4. ^ "McLean High School; About us". Fairfax County Public Schools. Retrieved May 17, 2015. 
  5. ^
  6. ^ "All Not So Quiet Along the Potomac". DC Lawyer on the Civil War. September 9, 2011. Retrieved July 8, 2015. 
  7. ^ a b "NSPA All-American Hall of Fame". Retrieved 2009-01-21. 
  8. ^ Tang, Jessica. "The Highlander Online". The Highlander Online. McLean High School. Retrieved 10 January 2014. 
  9. ^ Wilkinson, Motz, Traxler (2009-04-16). "Appellate Decision" (PDF). United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit. 
  10. ^ "Ann Moore 1950— Biography - Early decision to work for time, Expands and diversifies the people group". 
  11. ^ "Deadly Mole". Newsweek. March 7, 1994. Retrieved January 21, 2009. 
  12. ^ "Smith and Badawy Named All-Louisiana". 
  13. ^ "Brendan Heavey ELIMINATED: 7/19/11". Retrieved April 9, 2016. 
  14. ^ "#29, Eric Dorsey, McLean Football, 1982". Alexandria Gazette Packet. August 15, 2006. Retrieved January 21, 2009. 
  15. ^ Nakamura, David (March 7, 2005). "A Scouting Williams Finds Fans on Nats' Roster". Washington Post. Retrieved January 21, 2009. 
  16. ^ a b (Source: Class Correspondent via
  17. ^ USRowing - USRowing Athlete Profiles -
  18. ^ "NASA Biographical Data: William F. Readdy". Retrieved January 20, 2009. 
  19. ^ Stephen, Eric (June 8, 2015). "MLB Draft 2015: Dodgers take RHP Josh Sborz with No. 74 pick". Retrieved February 8, 2016. 
  20. ^ USRowing - USRowing Athlete Profiles -
  21. ^ "112th Congress Congressional Directory" (PDF). Retrieved December 1, 2011. 

External links[edit]