Interview with Ray Anderson, H-B Woodlawn Principal
It’s back-to-school season, so we're sharing a segment from a recent oral history recorded with Ray Anderson, former principal of the H-B Woodlawn Secondary Program.
H-B, as it’s commonly known, started in 1971 and spent almost fifty years on Vacation Lane in Cherrydale. This year the H-B Woodlawn Secondary Program moved to an entirely new building in Rosslyn to accommodate the growing number of students who want to attend the school.
The photo caption from the 1996 H-B Woodlawn yearbook reads, "It provides a good place to experiment and grow. It is a place where being different is not only accepted, but is the norm."
We wish all Arlington students and teachers a good start to the school year!
Narrator: Ray Anderson
Interviewer: Emily Curley
Date: January 23, 2019
RA: I decided I—conventional school was too conventional for me and I was lucky enough to write up an idea, after two years, for a separate school. And in fact, I have the memo I wrote with me and in January of 1971, I commented on the racial, economic and social diversity of Arlington [0:07:00] and conditions in the schools and particularly at Wakefield. I made some recommendations about Wakefield and the last half of my memo started, “I recommend a system of rigid and closely supervised discipline.” Wow. Okay? “Since many of our present students and faculty will find that such system inhibits the learning process for them, I further recommend the establishment of a new high school in Arlington.” And then I go on for a couple of pages on what that would be.
It got passed around in Arlington, people wrote me notes and stuff like that. By March of ’71—because this is all reflecting the times, right?—the school board was having a hearing because they had three elementary schools they were closing to open the new Glebe School and they were closing Woodlawn, Langston, and Lee. Lee is now an art center on Lee Highway. Langston is still in the school system and used for educational purposes and a community center as well. And Woodlawn is now the hospice.
So I went to the school board and I gave them this memo, which is entitled, “A Proposal for an Experimental Free High School to be Created by the Arlington County School Board.” And it’s three pages long. That was kind of interesting but I didn’t expect anything to happen.
You can find Ray Anderson's interview in its entirety in the Center for Local History - VA 975.5295 A7243oh ser.3 no.425. Photo: 1996 H.B. Woodlawn yearbook, page 1. Call number: VA/X371.805 H431y 1996. Cover photo: Community Archives, Arlington Structures and Places, 1996-2006, H.B. Woodlawn, 1996, Object 933.
You can learn more about the history of H-B Woodlawn, including the new building in Rosslyn, on the H-B Woodlawn Secondary School website.