Excerpt from Oral History with Sally B. Loving
Washington-Lee High School is currently undergoing a major renovation , but when it opened in 1925 it was considerably smaller and the community quite different from what it is today.
The following is from an oral history with Sally B. Loving, who taught at W-L for many years.
"When the site was decided upon, some said it was located in a spot in north Arlington equally difficult to reach from all points. And that was about the truth, because the County was not built up and it [the school] was way out in…the field so to speak. The [original] Washington-Lee building cost $200,000, plus $231,339 for equipment.
There were between 450 and 500 students there in 1925, when we entered the building. And when they first got in the building, we had to wait for the arrival of the chairs, so we either sat on the floor or stood. But that was the very beginning.
Washington-Lee was perhaps . . . the beginning of unifying the County, since the students came from Cherrydale, Clarendon, Ballston, Columbia Pike, and so forth. But it didn't take long. . . before you could realize what section of the County they came from. This is if there was a fire the night before: their loyalty went to their community (the fire department), and each one was sure that his fire department got there first. But gradually the spirit grew, as we grew up at Washington-Lee, and the spirit was good."
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My class was the last one to graduate from the old building. Even though it had severe heating issues, the old building had a charm that can not be replaced. There was this cozy warmth about it. The new building is highly impressvie but its too good in a sense. Oh well, may be 70 years from now, someone will say the same again for a newer building built. Sher Afgan, class of 2007
I have volumes of memories of W-L, and Sally B. [and Ruby Shreves, 'Ma' Malott, Mabel Allen, Harry Pitt, Lois Downs, Pat Grafton, Al Haringer, John Youngblood, Bruno Paras, and lots more], and the library at the end of the hall, the home ec and chemistry departments at the end of the 'new wing', assemblies in the theater, dances and JCL toga parties in the Little Theater, dances in the gym as well as great basketball games, concerts with Leonard Bernstein, Sarge Shriver telling us about the Peace Corps, classes in the shop building, finally getting to hang out on the senior court, Bill Watt [class of '61] climbing the greased flag pole in the senior court, the smoking court next to the garbage cans behind the kitchen, football games in War Memorial Stadium, working for the Penman [offices above the yearbook staff in the white house]. I move back to Northern Virginia in 1975 when the original building was torn down, and still have a few salvaged bricks. Susan Clay [firstname.lastname@example.org]
Karen Taylor says
W-L is initiating John Youngblood in this year’s Hall of Fame. Any information you can share or family contacts, please send them to email@example.com who is the current Director of Student Activities. Thank you.
Carl L Thoburn says
I loved my work as a mathematics teacher at Washington Lee where I taught for 27 years plus substituting after retirement. I loved every student I taught and wanted nothing but the best for them. I could tell about how I have seen many of them since I retired in 1996. I enjoyed working with the administrators and faculty.
Erin Lynch says
I’m glad to see that you’re still going strong. You were an inspiration.
–Erin Lynch, W-L class of ’98
BS, Mathematics, Caltech