A brisk breeze and bright spring sunshine were nearly as prevalent as the pride and fond memories expressed by alumni and faculty commemorating the 50th anniversary of W.T. Woodson High School on Saturday, April 13.
The audience of over 300 former students and teachers listened intently as honored guest speakers, including U.S. Rep. Gerald Connolly (D-11) congratulated the institution on its milestone achievement. State senator Chap Petersen (D-34) and delegate Eileen Filler-Corn (D-41) each gave laudatory remarks before presenting unanimously passed resolutions of recognition from their respective legislative bodies.
“This truly is a testament to the contributions and the impact that you all, and this school, has made on Fairfax County, and the Commonwealth of Virginia as a whole,” said Delegate Filler-Corn. Though he never took the podium, Robert Phipps, principal from 1965-1968, was also in attendance.
Continuing the ceremony were speeches from past faculty and students representing each decade since the school opened its doors in the fall of 1962. They reminisced about draconian dress codes, humorous pranks and changes to the locker paint color. But they also honed in on the school’s mission of academic and athletic excellence and integrity—a code of character called the “Woodson Way” that has threaded all 50 years together.
“This is a very human place,” said former basketball coach Paul “Red” Jenkins, “and always has been. It’s about the people, not the bricks.”
“It’s really nice to see the consistency over the decades,” echoed current Woodson Principal Jeff Yost. “The same message is there. Woodson High School always seems to develop kind, caring and intelligent young adults, that also have the special gifts of athletics to go with their arts.”
Dedication of a 50th anniversary plaque and refreshments followed the remarks, capping an all-around feel-good program on a picturesque afternoon. “We can’t blame anything on the weather,” said Yost.