Wakefield High School (Arlington County, Virginia)

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Wakefield High School
1325 S. Dinwiddie Street
Arlington, Virginia 22206
School type Public, high school
Motto "Rigor, Relationships, Resilience, Responsibility, Results"
Founded 1952
School district Arlington Public Schools
Principal Chris Wilmore Ed.D
Grades 9–12
Enrollment 1,364 (2008)
Language English
Campus Suburban
Color(s) Kelly green and black
Mascot Warrior
Rival schools Washington-Lee High School
Yorktown High School
Athletic conferences National District
Northern Region

Wakefield High School is one of three public high schools located in Arlington, Virginia, United States, closely bordering Alexandria. It had 120 teachers and 1435 students as of 2012.

Wakefield's athletes are called the "Warriors" and wear the colors kelly green, white, and black. The school participates in the Virginia High School League. The Warriors are represented by an image of a knight holding a sword, which was preceded by an Indian head until 2003.


The school opened for the second time for the 1952–1953 school year. Under its current principal Christian Willmore, it is administered by the Arlington Public Schools.

As of 2005–2012 the school had 1435 students and 120 teachers covering grades 9-12.

Alumni Hall of Fame[edit]

During the celebration of the school's 50th anniversary in 2003, induction to its Hall of Fame began. Additional inductions are made in odd numbered years.[1]

Class of 2003
  • Former principal: Dr. Harold Wilson
  • Former staff: Neal Haygood
  • Former staff: Eddie Marsh
  • Graduate in 1956: Pete Arntson
  • Graduate in 1963: Hunter Adams
  • Graduate in 1965: Henry Hudson
  • Graduate in 1966: Conchita Mitchell
  • Graduate in 1968: Bill Newman
Class of 2005
  • Former staff: Julian "Buddy" Stein
  • Former staff: Bobby Whittier
  • Graduate in 1957: Douglas Wheeler
  • Graduate in 1961: Ric Duques
  • Graduate in 1961: Richard Kidd
  • Graduate in 1965: Dawn Chatty
  • Graduate in 1978: Doug Mills
Class of 2007
  • Former staff: Maynard Haithcock
  • Graduate in 1958: Donna Floyd Fales
  • Graduate in 1961: Seth Shostak
  • Graduate in 1962: John Moran
  • Graduate in 1968: Big Al Carter
  • Graduate in 1983: Paul Ferguson
Class of 2009

Building structure and location[edit]

Wakefield High School
(photo by Daniel Ryan)

In 2007, the county's school board began the planning process for modernization or replacement of the Wakefield building. It will be the third of the county's three high schools to receive a new building, following Washington-Lee (new academic wing completed in January 2008, full completion expected in late 2009) and Yorktown (construction contemplated following a bond referendum in November 2008). The order of construction of the three schools corresponds to the age of the three existing buildings. If construction on the new building continues as planned, the new Wakefield High School was to open in late summer of 2013.

Wakefield is now a newly remodeled high school. [2]

Student life[edit]


The demographic breakdown of the 2012–2013 school year is as follows:[3]

As of 2006–2007, 222 students receive ESL support.

Most Wakefield students live in South Arlington, the portion of the county below Arlington Boulevard (US 50). This part of the county is home to many recent immigrants, and the residential areas are some of the most culturally diverse in the nation. The high school attendance boundaries are not fixed and change about once every decade. Historically, the attendance area for Wakefield has extended as far north as the Williamsburg area of Arlington near Mclean, and has at times included other parts of North Arlington near Ballston and Clarendon.

In 2003, Washingtonian Magazine ranked Wakefield as the 17th most diverse high school out of all 128 public and private high schools in the DC metropolitan area.



Homecoming is an honored tradition at Wakefield. "Spirit Week" is also practiced. Each of the five days has a different theme, and the students and faculty dress accordingly. The week then concludes with a pep rally, parade, football game, and formal dance.

Heritage Week[edit]

Heritage Week is an important week at Wakefield. This week is just like homecoming, in which each day has a different theme. Students may dress up in cultural attire and bring in cultural foods on assigned days. Students bring in cultural music which is played during the school day. During the week, each third period is to design their classroom door to represent the cultural diversity within the classroom and within the school. The most well decorated door on each floor wins a prize. At the end of the week, an assembly is put on by students and teachers performing acts related to their heritages.

All Night Grad Party[edit]

After graduation, graduates and guests may participate in the Boat Party and Breakfast. Students are bussed to the Potomac Wharf, board the Spirit of the Potomac, and take a three-hour boat ride. Usually, the main floor is for dancing and dining, the second floor is designed as a mock casino, and the upper deck is for outdoor lounging. At the end of the trip, the students are bussed back to Wakefield, are provided breakfast by parents of other students, and participate in other activities.

Clubs and activities[edit]

Wakefield offers many opportunities for students to participate in various clubs and activities to support their academics and challenge them to learn and grow outside the classroom. Such activities include:

Nationally recognized: Scholastic activities:

The Chieftain[edit]

Wakefield's school-wide newspaper is The Chieftain. It is a course in journalism offered by the school and is produced solely by students. Stories covered include local and international news, school events, performing arts, athletic development, and the ever-popular "Kiss-O-Gram" (student-to-student messages on Valentine's Day).


Starstone was the title of the Wakefield yearbook until 2003 (the 50th anniversary). Since then, the yearbook has been retitled each year.

It's Academic team[edit]

Wakefield sponsors a team of students to participate in the locally televised quiz show, It's Academic. The team's faculty advisor is Nathan Batchelder. The Warriors have sent the team to Scholastic Bowl tournaments (in addition to It's Academic) and have come home with multiple National District titles.

In the spring, the team hosts a tournament, Brain Brawl, similar to the Saturday morning program for the other students and faculty of the school. They devise teams of three students and a faculty member. Faculty members who frequently participate include Alfred Reid and Alan Beitler. It's Academic alumni are also known to come back and take part by reading questions or keeping scores. On the day of the tournament, teams are divided into two brackets, and play through an elimination tournament. The final two teams then play head-to-head in a closed-circuit televised event broadcast to the whole school. The winning team usually goes home with small trophies, as do selected players of superlative awards.

Games are usually played in four rounds: toss-up round, individual team round, faculty only round, and students only round. Questions include standard academic trivia, mathematic stumps, pop culture, and running jokes involving school faculty.

For the freshmen of the school, there is a smaller tournament, also headed by the It's Academic team, known as the "Baby Brawl" with three teams representing each House.


Special programs[edit]

  • The Freshman Foundations Program divides all freshmen into House I, House II, House III, and House IV. Each has a team of teachers with one teacher to a subject or "foundation": English, math, world history, biology, and technology. Each house has its own schedule when it comes to classes, electives, and lunch. Freshmen do not attend Career Center courses. There is also one "team" (known as Team-1) composed of teachers.
  • Wakefield's Academic Cohort Program identifies African American and Hispanic males in 9th grade who are capable of taking a more demanding courseload. These students are supported through graduation. They meet weekly with a Coordinator, a school counselor, and social worker to lend support to each other as they tackle the demanding coursework.
  • Lunch Labs are provided to the students in all subject areas and are offered only during lunch. Students go to these labs in an effort to develop their academic lack in the content area (i.e. make up tests, get homework assistance, or study). Some labs are also offered throughout the day and after school.
  • The Arlington Career Center[4] offers technical courses in Business & Communication, Industry & Engineering, and Health & Human Services.

AP Network[edit]

Wakefield encourages all interested students to take Advanced Placement courses, favoring "preparedness" over intelligence and finesse. The "AP Network", which began as an Exemplary Project approved by the Arlington County School Board in the spring of 2004, is rooted in this belief.

Since the n inception, the faculty and staff of Wakefield have been "networking" and creating numerous academic programs to introduce pre-AP and AP courses. Among these programs are the Foundations Pre-AP Program, the Pre-AP Bridge Program, the AP Summer Bridge Program for upperclassmen, and the AP Study Seminar.

In the spring of 2006, Wakefield was granted the Inspiration Award by the College Board, reflecting the inception of the AP Network, and naming Wakefield as one of the country's most improved high schools. Only three high schools are granted this honor every year. John Tyler High School of Tyler, Texas and Hobbs High School of Hobbs, New Mexico were also given this recognition in 2006.[5]

Senior project[edit]

Wakefield is the only school in Arlington that requires students to complete a senior project as a requirement for graduation. As a junior, each student selects a topic of interest which must be approved. Students may begin research during the summer before senior year. However, all papers must be written and verified during the academic year. At the start of the seniors' academic year, students select a date in which they are to present the project, giving them a time frame in which papers are to be submitted. During the year, the student then decides on a panel (composed of one pre-determined faculty member, one expert in the field, one person from the community, and another fellow senior) who will grade the project. Those who do not receive a "pass" or higher will report to Summer Institute to complete the missing requirements.[6]


Wakefield administers the SOL tests for the state of Virginia.

Average SOL scores
Subject 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007
Reading 93% 89% 81% 86% 95%
Writing 89% 84% 84% 83% 93%
Math 69% 72% 72% 75%
Science 67%


Wakefield offers the PSAT free to students in grades 10 and 11. An SAT preparatory course is offered, as well as the actual examination. In 2007 the school's average SAT score was a 959 (471 in Reading, 488 in Math).


Foreign languages[edit]

The Spanish Immersion program allows students to continue taking challenging courses involving the Spanish language. In the past, students have had part of the entire curriculum in Spanish. Currently, the high school level of Spanish Immersion allows students to develop their ability to read, speak, and think in courses including Spanish Literature and AP Spanish. Starting in 2006, immersion students are privileged to study abroad at universities in various Spanish speaking countries.

Wakefield also offers French, German, Latin, Arabic, Chinese, and Italian.

Visual arts[edit]

Jina Davidson heads the school's Fine Arts Department and teaches photography and art history. Margot Dunn joined the Fine Arts faculty in 2008 and teaches drawing, painting, ceramics, crafts, and AP art. Davidson and Dunn encourage students to participate in visual art competitions, and many have come back with high honors and awards.

Performing arts[edit]

Wakefield has also spawned a generation of students in the performing arts. In the winter of 2004, Wakefield introduced its newly renovated auditorium, now called the Center of Performing Arts. This houses all performing arts including instrumental, choral, and theatrical. Upcoming shows, events, and rehearsal schedules are listed online. [8]

The Marching Warriors compete 5-6 times a season and have received multiple grade III honors, including with VBODA. During their season, they also play in several parades, including Arlington's Neighborhood Day Parades and Randolph Elementary School's annual Halloween Parade. In 2002, the Marching Warriors traveled out of state to participate in a competitive parade. In 2014, the Marching Warriors earned 10th place in division 1a competition at the USBands National Championships in Allentown, Pennsylvania. They achieved a score of 89.125 out of 100.

All the instrumental and choral groups — including the String Orchestra, Band, and Choir — compete twice annually among other schools both at the District 12 level in the fall and on an out-of-state trip in the spring. Respectively, the groups come home with grade I, grade II, and grade II honors. Other competitive musical groups include Jazz Band and the Madrigals. Symphonette and Blues Band are non-competitive, but play at community functions.

Wakefield's Drama Club puts on three performances per year, including a fall drama production, a competitive one-act production in the winter, and its more popular spring musical, all of which often spawn award-winning performances. The spring musical competes annually among DC Metropolitan high schools in a formal ceremony for the Cappies, awards similar to the Tonys. They also have a partnership with Arlington's Signature Theater.


Wakefield's athletic department competes through the Virginia High School League. It is headed by Noel Deskins and Bob Strauss. The teams wear the colors kelly green, white, and black.


Boys' athletics: Girls' athletics: Interscholastic:
Non-fine arts
Fine arts

Pool and stadiums[edit]

Wakefield High School owns and manages its own swimming pool. During the week, it is used for physical education for the students of Wakefield and for students of neighboring middle and elementary schools. Other times, it is used publicly by the community at large. The community does not have a team to represent the public pool, but is represented by the Warriors' swim and dive team.

Starting in 2002, Arlington County spent well over $700,000 on the implant and maintenance of a new synthetic turf field in various athletic fields and stadiums. In 2004, Wakefield's outdoor stadium was the first of the three Arlington high schools with this change. Washington-Lee High School and Yorktown High School had their fields installed in 2005 and 2006, respectively.[9]

In 2004, Wakefield completed the construction of the girls' softball field. This was the first time the two sports, softball and baseball, were segregated in the history of Warrior athletics.

Stadium upgrades were scheduled to begin in April 2013 and be completed by July. Stadium improvements were to include the replacement of bleachers on both sides and a new press box. The press box was to include heating, air conditioning, and filming platform for recording games.

Notable visitors[edit]

During a high school tour early in their career, the Backstreet Boys once performed in an assembly.

On the first day of the 2009-2010 school year, Wakefield hosted President Barack Obama, who addressed the students in his "Back to School Speech". This speech was broadcast live in schools across the United States. On March 7, 2011, President Obama revisited the school, this time with the Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard and the United States Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. The president and prime minister talked to a class of juniors in an AP US History class.

Notable alumni[edit]


External links[edit]

Coordinates: 38°50′52″N 77°06′36″W / 38.847863°N 77.110119°W / 38.847863; -77.110119