Washington-Lee High School

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Washington-Lee High School
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
School type Public, high school
Founded 1925
School district Arlington Public Schools
Principal Gregg Robertson
Teaching staff 134.08 (FTE )
Grades 9–12
Enrollment 2,255 (2014–2015)
Student to teacher ratio 16.82
Campus Suburban
Color(s) Blue and Grey         
Athletics conference National District Northern Region
Nickname Generals
Rivals Wakefield High School, Yorktown High School

Washington-Lee High School (W-L) is one of three traditional public high schools in the Arlington Public Schools district in Arlington, Virginia, covering grades 9–12, the others being Yorktown High School, also in north Arlington, and Wakefield High School in south Arlington. It has consistently had a high standing in national and state rankings for college preparatory, with excellence in teachers, and distinction in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM), and diversity.[2][3] It is the only Arlington high school offering the International Baccalaureate Program.[4] In the wake of the August 2017 Charlottesville, Virginia, white supremacist rally protesting the removal of a statue of Robert E. Lee, the Arlington County School Board is considering changing the name of the school to remove Robert E. Lee from it.[5]


View of the high school from across Quincy Street

The school was named after two Virginians: Continental Army General George Washington and Confederate Army General Robert E. Lee.[6]

Construction on Washington-Lee began in 1924, with the school opening 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 the school 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.[7]

Beginning in 2006, 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. The renovation cost Arlington County nearly $100 million and making it one of the most expensive high school construction projects in the United States.[8]


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.[9]

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


W-L has received national recognition for its academic programs. In 1985, W-L was named a National (Blue Ribbon) School of Excellence by the US Department of Education.[10] 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.[11]

Washington-Lee is the only school in Arlington that offers both the Advanced Placement Program as well as the International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme.[12] The vast majority of its students take advantage of these advanced courses or diploma programs.[13]

Fine arts[edit]

The school offers fine arts courses and electives. Within the music department, electives include the marching and symphonic bands, madrigals, women's chorale, 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.[14] The school was also a blue ribbon school for 2010–2011.


The demographic breakdown of the 2,255 students enrolled in 2014–2015 was:

  • Male – 51.4%
  • Female – 48.6%
  • Native American/Alaskan – 0.4%
  • Asian/Pacific islanders – 10.1%
  • Black – 10.5%
  • Hispanic – 33.7%
  • White – 40.0%
  • Multiracial – 5.2%

29.8% of the students were eligible for free or reduced price lunch.[1]

Test scores[edit]

Washington-Lee High School is a fully accredited with the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools. W-L's average SAT score in 2016 was a 1703 (575 in Reading; 576 in Math; 552 in Writing).[15]

As of 2011, Washington-Lee High School met or exceeded the Virginia average passing rate for the majority of Virginia Standards of Learning exam categories [16]


The school mascot is the "Generals". Most of the athletic teams, as well as many scholastic competitions, compete through the Virginia High School League.

List of teams[edit]

Notable alumni[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Search for Public Schools – School Detail for Washington Lee High". ed.gov. Retrieved December 28, 2017. 
  2. ^ "Compare College Prep at Virginia Public High Schools". Niche. Retrieved October 15, 2017. 
  3. ^ usnews.com
  4. ^ "Washington-Lee High School". IBO.org. Retrieved October 15, 2017. 
  5. ^ Balingit, Moriah (August 18, 2017). "In the wake of Charlottesville, a call to change the name of Arlington's Washington-Lee High". Retrieved October 15, 2017 – via www.WashingtonPost.com. 
  6. ^ "History". apsva.us. Retrieved October 1, 2015. 
  7. ^ "Washington-Lee High School History". Archived from the original on October 1, 2011. 
  8. ^ Bahrampour, Tara. "Some Will Study In Lap of Luxury This School Year". Washington Post. Retrieved 2008-06-23. 
  9. ^ "Arlington Public Schools News Release". Archived from the original on 2010-09-17. Retrieved 2010-01-27. Washington-Lee High School Receives LEED Gold Certification 
  10. ^ "Blue Ribbon Schools Program". List of Schools Recognized 1982–2002 
  11. ^ "The Top of the Class 2007". Newsweek Magazine. Archived from the original on 2012-09-08. Retrieved 2010-01-22. 
  12. ^ "Office of Counseling Services". [dead link]
  13. ^ "International Baccalaureate Graduate Information". Archived from the original on 2011-10-01. Retrieved 2010-01-27. Number of Exams Taken 
  14. ^ "Virginia Music Educators Association Blue Ribbon Award". Archived from the original on January 23, 2010. 
  15. ^ "2016-2017 High School Profile Arlington County Public Schools" (PDF). Archive.org. December 9, 2017. Retrieved December 9, 2017. 
  16. ^ "Washington Lee High School". GreatSchools.org. Retrieved October 1, 2015. 
  17. ^ Barnes, Bart (2015-02-17). "Betty Jane Diener, blunt Virginia secretary of commerce in 1980s, dies". Washington Post. Retrieved 2015-02-21. 
  18. ^ [1] imdb