George Washington High School, at 1005 Mount Vernon Avenue, served students in Alexandria from 1935 until its death in 1971.
During its short life of 36 years, it managed to produce three of the greatest rock stars in history (Jim Morrison, Class of ’61 and Mama Cass Elliott and “Papa” John Phillips of the Mamas & The Papas), perhaps one of the greatest weathermen of all time (Willard Scott, class of ’51), as well as military heroes ( Francis Hammond, 51, to whom the Navy named a ship and Alexandria named a high school), and a famous NASA astronaut, Guy S. Gardner, 65, who piloted the Atlantis and Columbia space shuttles.
Its 1935 creation merged the students from Alexandria’s two high schools, Alexandria High School, on the 1400 block of Cameron Street; and the George Mason High School, which operated from 1925 in the town of Potomac (what later became St. Elmo, then Del Ray). The old GW building is now part of Mt.Vernon Elementary.
Since segregation was the law until the Supreme Court decision in 1954, these high schools served the white population. Integration came to Alexandria in 1965. The black population was served by Parker-Gray High School on Madison Street. At the time of integration, T.C. Williams High School was opened to serve all of Alexandrias students. Readers will remember this story either from their own experience, or from the film Clash of the Titans.
With T.C. Williams serving senior high school grades, both GW and Francis C. Hammond High School in the West End became schools for ninth and tenth graders. During reorganization in 1979, GW became a junior high school. Later in 1993 GW was made a middle school, which it still is today.
The high school, though no longer still around, has a thriving alumni base, which meets regularly for alumni meetings, outings and socials. We have a very active alumni association,” said GW Alumni Association President Dave Beach told us. “There are 1400 members, and we have a close association with the alumni of the former Francis C. Hammond High School.”
Alumni who would like more information about the group may visit our website at www.gwhsaa.com.