School History

The history of Fairfax High School begins in 1927 when the first high school courses in the town of Fairfax were held in the old Fairfax Elementary School on Main Street. The high school program there ended in 1932, and for 3 ½ years students enrolled in the old high school building at Oakton. The first Fairfax High School building opened on February 22, 1935 on what is now called Fairfax Boulevard in the City of Fairfax. The school was built with grant funding from the federal government’s Public Works Administration and was located on the old Fairfax County Fairgrounds.

Black and white photograph of the old Fairfax High School taken in 1935. The building is two stories tall with six large banks of windows on both floors. The main entrance is ornately designed with columns. Early 1930s era cars are parked in front of the building.
Fairfax High School, 1935. Courtesy of the Virginia Department of Education

The first graduating class in 1936 had 47 members. Also that first year, Fairfax High School had just 13 teachers and English teacher, Gordon Smith, also served as the Principal.

Inside cover of the first Fairfax High School yearbook printed in 1936. On the left is a narrow photograph of the school’s main entrance. On the right is the county seal of Fairfax and the words 1936 Fare Fac Sampler, Volume 1, Published by the Senior Class of Fairfax High School, Fairfax, Virginia.
Inside cover of the first Fairfax High School yearbook. Courtesy of the Virginia Room, Fairfax County Public Library.

Explore Old Fairfax High School Yearbooks

School enrollment grew quickly during the “baby boom” era, and in 1954 Fairfax had 80 teachers and 1,000 students, 210 of whom were in the graduating class. Eight additions were constructed between 1935 and 1970, at which point the school could no longer support the burgeoning student population and the modernized educational curriculum of the time.

Black and white aerial photograph of the old Fairfax High School taken in 1968. The building has been added onto significantly since it first opened.
Old Fairfax High School, 1968

On May 23, 1970, the School Board of the City of Fairfax held a groundbreaking ceremony at our current school site. On January 3, 1972, 1,800 students moved from the old vine-covered building into the new Fairfax High School, bringing old traditions like the Honor Code with them.

The Honor Code, composed by students in 1949, stated that students should try to:

  • Promote clean and wholesome speech.
  • Be helpful to students, officers, patrols, monitors and bus drivers.
  • Encourage and foster proper conduct at home and away.
  • Use what the school offers to better oneself.   
Undated color photograph of the new Fairfax High School taken from the hillside along Old Lee Highway. In the foreground are several cars and a school bus which, by their makes and models, appear to date this photo to the late 1970s or early 1980s.
New Fairfax High School, Undated

By the mid-1990s, Fairfax High School had grown to house 170 faculty and staff, and a student population of 2,500. Beginning in March, 2005, our school underwent an extensive $54 million, 2 ½ year long renovation - the first comprehensive improvements to our building since 1972. Our school was rededicated on November 10, 2007, debuting 17 new science and social studies classrooms, a new library, and technology improvements in every classroom.   

Entryway of the newly renovated Fairfax High School. The building has a very modern look with angled roof sections and large glass windows running the length of the front. The photograph was taken shortly after sunrise and there is a pink glow on the windows.
Fairfax High School, 2017

Do you know the origin of the name Fairfax?

What Happened to the old Fairfax High School?

After Fairfax High School transitioned to its new building in 1972, the first Fairfax High School building was purchased by George Mason University (GMU) and was used as the university’s North Campus for ten years. In July 1983, GMU sold the building to the Roman Catholic Diocese of Arlington and St. Paul VI Catholic High School opened the following September. In 2015, the Catholic Diocese of Arlington announced plans to move St. Paul VI High School to a new campus in Loudoun County in 2020. The school property was sold to the IDI Group Cos. of Arlington and is being redeveloped into a mixed-use community.

Our Principals

Gordon E. Smith (1935-1941), Harold F. Weiler (1941-1944), Robert B. Walker (1944-1946), Samuel J. Coffee (1946-1960), Cyrus H. Doub (1960-1968), Robert R. Tabor (1968-1972), Robert C. Russel (Acting, 1972-1973), Robert R. Tabor (1973-1976), Clarence P. Drayer (1976-1981), Joan D. Curcio (1981-1983), Harry F. Holsinger (1983-1988; He was a graduate of Fairfax HS, Class of 1954), Donald J. Weinheimer, Jr. (1988-1999), Lillian Lowery (1999-2002), Linda L. Thomson (2002-2005), Scott S. Brabrand (2005-2009), David Goldfarb (2009-2018), Erin Lenart (2018-2021), Maureen Keck (Acting, 2021-Present).