ALEXANDRIA, VA–From 1935 to 1971, what is now the George Washington Middle School at 1005 Mt. Vernon Avenue used to be the predominant high school for the city of Alexandria. A group of alumni from the George Washington High School have gotten together to honor that legacy in permanence.
On Saturday, July 23, at 11am, the alumni will unveil a historical state marker dedicated to the former high school, which will stand outside the former front entrance on the school grounds facing Mt. Vernon Ave.
“About two years ago, we started the process of getting approval through the state,” details alumnus and group organizer Bud Mayo. To get a state historical marker approved through the state takes planning and patience. Bud and his fellow alumni got together to create an inscription, which they then sent to the state for review and approval.
Finally, the George Washington High School state historical marker content was approved by the state. It reads:
The City of Alexandria purchased 15.5 acres here in 1933 and opened George Washington High School in 1935. For two decades this was the city’s only public high school for white students. The Art Deco-style building was constructed with funding from the Federal Emergency Administration of Public Works, a New Deal agency that helped modernize the nation’s infrastructure during the Great Depression. Later expanded, the school served as an important community gathering place for the arts and athletics. Alexandria’s school system was desegregated in 1965. This campus, which closed as a four-year high school I 1971 and later became a middle school, is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
“This is to commemorate the many thousands of people that graduated from our high school and have fond memories of their days there,” states Mayo.
Mayo, who grew up in Alexandria and was a member of the GWHS graduating class of 1963, now lives in Burke, Virginia, but he has made several trips back to his home town and alma mater.
“I returned to the school a year or two ago. It was very nostalgic,” recalls Mayo. The school building itself was already on the National Register for Historic Places, and so when Mayo proposed a physical historical marker, his fellow alumni were “one-hundred percent for it.”
On Saturday, July 23, Mayo and his fellow alumni will return to their former high school and officially dedicate the historical marker they brought to life. At 11am, the public is welcome to join in the free outdoor ceremony. The Vice Mayor will be in attendance to help commemorate.