Open main menu

Washington-Liberty High School

  (Redirected from Washington-Lee High School)

Washington-Liberty High School (W-L, formerly Washington-Lee High School), 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 is the only Arlington high school offering the International Baccalaureate Program.[2]

Washington-Liberty High School
1301 North Stafford Street


Coordinates38°53′13″N 77°06′35″W / 38.886891°N 77.10969°W / 38.886891; -77.10969Coordinates: 38°53′13″N 77°06′35″W / 38.886891°N 77.10969°W / 38.886891; -77.10969
Former nameWashington-Lee High School
School typePublic, high school
Founded1925; 94 years ago (1925)
School districtArlington Public Schools
PrincipalGregg Robertson
Teaching staff160.52 (FTE) (2016–17)[1]
Enrollment2,537 (2016–17)[1]
Student to teacher ratio15.80 (2016–17)[1]
CampusCity: Midsize[1]
Color(s)     Blue
Athletics conferenceNational District Northern Region
RivalsWakefield High School, Yorktown High School

In January 2019, the Arlington Public Schools Board voted to rename the school to Washington-Liberty High School beginning the 2019–20 school year.


View of the high school from across Quincy Street (2017)

The original name of Washington-Liberty High School was Washington-Lee High School, whose name was taken from the Washington and Lee University, but the and was omitted and replaced with a hyphen to distinguish from the university. While the name comes from the university, there are also Northern Virginia and Arlington County landmarks that are associated with the naming of the school:[3] The proximity of the home of two prominent Virginians: General George Washington and General Robert E. Lee.[4]

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.[5]

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.[6]

In the wake of the August 2017 Charlottesville, Virginia, deadly white supremacist rally protesting the removal of a statue of Robert E. Lee, the Arlington County School Board voted unanimously in June 2018 to rename Washington-Lee High School to remove Lee's name,[7][8] sparking outrage among many in the community.[9] In the months prior to the name change, the Arlington County school board narrowed several options to "Washington-Loving High School", in honor of the Loving v. Virginia court case, and "Washington-Liberty High School". On January 10, 2019, the school board voted unanimously for the latter name.[10]


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.[11]

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.[12] The school has also received honors from the Virginia Board of Education and the Virginia Department of Education.[citation needed] In 2007, Newsweek magazine ranked Washington-Lee 33rd among the nation's top high schools.[13]

Washington-Liberty is the only school in Arlington that offers both the Advanced Placement Program as well as the International Baccalaureate Program.[14] The vast majority of its students take advantage of these advanced courses or diploma programs.[15]

Fine artsEdit

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.[16] The school was also a blue ribbon school for 2010–11.


The gender breakdown of the 2,537 students enrolled in 2016–17 was:

  • Male – 50.9%
  • Female – 49.1%

The ethnic breakdown of those same 2,537 students was:

  • Native American/Alaskan Native – 0.32%
  • Asian – 10.4%
  • Black – 8.7%
  • Hispanic – 33.6%
  • Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander – 0.04%
  • White – 42.0%
  • Multiracial – 5.0%

28.6% of the students were eligible for free or reduced-price lunch.[1]

Test scoresEdit

Washington-Liberty 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).[17]

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[18]


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 teamsEdit

Notable alumniEdit


  1. ^ a b c d e f "Search for Public Schools - Washington-Lee High (510027000112)". National Center for Education Statistics. Institute of Education Sciences. Retrieved May 24, 2019.
  2. ^ "Washington-Lee High School". Retrieved October 15, 2017.
  3. ^ "W-L History in Brief". Arlington Public Schools. Retrieved July 12, 2019.
  4. ^ "History / Welcome". Washington-Liberty High School. Arlington Public Schools. Archived from the original on May 15, 2016. Retrieved October 1, 2015 – via Cite uses deprecated parameter |dead-url= (help)
  5. ^ "Washington-Lee High School History". Arlington Public Schools. Archived from the original on October 1, 2011 – via Cite uses deprecated parameter |dead-url= (help)
  6. ^ Bahrampour, Tara. "Some Will Study In Lap of Luxury This School Year". The Washington Post. Retrieved June 23, 2008.
  7. ^ Balingit, Moriah (August 18, 2017). "In the wake of Charlottesville, a call to change the name of Arlington's Washington-Lee High". The Washington Post. Retrieved October 15, 2017.
  8. ^ Koma, Alex (June 8, 2018). "Washington-Lee High School to be Renamed". Archived from the original on June 8, 2018. Retrieved November 11, 2018. Cite uses deprecated parameter |dead-url= (help)
  9. ^ "W-L Name Change Opponents Claim New Recording Strengthens Legal Challenge". August 22, 2018. Retrieved December 11, 2018.
  10. ^ "Washington-Lee High School in Arlington renamed Washington-Liberty". WTOP-FM. January 11, 2019. Retrieved July 12, 2019.
  11. ^ "Arlington Public Schools News Release". Archived from the original on September 17, 2010. Retrieved January 27, 2010. Washington-Lee High School Receives LEED Gold Certification Cite uses deprecated parameter |dead-url= (help)
  12. ^ "National Blue Ribbon Schools Program Schools Recognized 1982 Through 2018" (PDF). U.S. Department of Education. November 27, 2018. p. 212. Archived from the original (PDF) on July 1, 2019. Retrieved May 24, 2019. Cite uses deprecated parameter |dead-url= (help)
  13. ^ "The Top of the Class 2007". Newsweek. Archived from the original on September 8, 2012. Retrieved January 22, 2010. Cite uses deprecated parameter |dead-url= (help)[permanent dead link]
  14. ^ "Office of Counseling Services".[dead link]
  15. ^ "W-L IB Diploma Program Data" (PDF). p. 3. Retrieved July 13, 2019.
  16. ^ "Virginia Music Educators Association Blue Ribbon Award". Archived from the original on January 23, 2010. Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)
  17. ^ "2016-2017 High School Profile Arlington County Public Schools" (PDF). December 9, 2017. Retrieved December 9, 2017.
  18. ^ "Washington Lee High School". Retrieved October 1, 2015.
  19. ^ Barnes, Bart (February 17, 2015). "Betty Jane Diener, blunt Virginia secretary of commerce in 1980s, dies". Washington Post. Retrieved February 21, 2015.
  20. ^ "Verónicas acoge obra última ganadora del Premio Nacional de Artes Plásticas" [Verónicas Hosts the Latest Work of the Winner of the National Award for Plastic Arts]. ABC (in Spanish). EFE. May 3, 2016. Retrieved June 20, 2019.
  21. ^ "Washington-Lee High School -- Class of 1954". Washington-Lee Alumni Association. Retrieved May 24, 2019.
  22. ^ McKenna, Dave (November 29, 1996). "On-Air Execution". Washington City Paper. Retrieved July 24, 2019.