From left: Steve Harvey (FHHS ’75), Tom Harvey (FHHS ’67) and FHHS Mom, Mrs. Ruth Harvey
Photo by Patti Miller
Brief History of Fort Hunt High School
Fort Hunt High School enrollment dipped below minimum standards for high schools back in the late 1980s. When the school system county-wide boundary study was completed and a contentious debate followed, the Fairfax County School Board voted to support the staff recommendation to close Fort Hunt High School. The result was Fort Hunt High School was merged with, at that time, Groveton High School, to form West Potomac High School, which continues today.
Despite the closing of Fort Hunt High School 30 years ago, the strong connection and great pride among the alumni students, faculty, and administrative staff in the former school is exemplified by the large contingent who return regularly to reminisce and enjoy the fellowship and common bond of their years while attending Fort Hunt High School. Joe Gililland says that the alumni association now has 2,500 Alumni registrants.
Approximately 250 alumni, teachers, administrators, parents and family participated in dedicating a memorial garden at Carl Sandburg Middle School on July 25 to memorialize the old Fort Hunt High School and those alumni who died. Fort Hunt High School was closed in 1985. The next day, following the memorial garden dedication, about 500 alumni and family gathered at the nearby Fort Hunt Park to enjoy a BBQ, band concerts, taking class photos and talking about the good old days.
According to life-long Fort Hunt resident and Fort Hunt High School Alum Tom Harvey, “Fort Hunt High School was the quintessential community high school that served as the central educational and social core of the Fort Hunt community for 22 years. For many of us, the memory of those days still serves as a never-ending gift, a reminder of good times, dreams, and growing up in a tight knit community that took great pride in our school’s academic and extracurricular achievements.”
Joe Gililland, president of the Fort Hunt High School Alumni Association, said, “The Memorial Garden Dedication was a salute to the students, teachers, coaches, administrators, and parents of Fort Hunt High School. We loved doing it. Without the old school, we felt like we lost a community center. The new Fort Hunt High School Memorial Garden and return of the historic cannons to the courtyard are a big step towards ‘making things right’ for the school’s alumni, parents, teachers, coaches and administrators. Fort Hunt lives!”
The two cannons in the memorial garden were acquired in 1965. The Fort Hunt High School PTA president obtained the historic 1854 1,400 lb. bronze cannon barrels and had them placed on concrete pedestals in the school's courtyard to serve as symbols of strength and determination. The cannons remained in place in the courtyard for the next 22 years. When the school closed and the newly named Carl Sandburg Middle School was renovated, the cannons were moved for safekeeping. These icons of the school and community were returned because of the efforts of the 2,500 school alumni who urged that these historic sentinels be returned to their rightful place in the courtyard and now serve as part of the Fort Hunt High School Alumni Memorial Garden.