Annandale High School is a public high school in Annandale, Virginia, United States. It is part of the Fairfax County Public Schools system.
The school's student body has been well-recognized for its high level of racial and cultural diversity since at least the 1980s. Students derive from over 90 countries and speak more than 50 languages.
The school's diverse student body has been noted by multiple US presidential administrations. In 1998, AHS was chosen by then-President Bill Clinton's Race Initiative Advisory Board as the site and focus of round-table discussions on race and education. In 2006, Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings visited Annandale to commend the school's diverse language programs, and to announce a $188,000 grant for Fairfax County Public Schools to expand Arabic and Chinese programs. And in October 2011, AHS was visited by First Lady Michelle Obama and First Lady of South Korea Kim Yoon-ok, who spoke at a school ceremony celebrating education and the school's diverse ethnic composition.
AHS is the publishing site and focus of The A-Blast Newspaper, a Washington Post YJDP paper that was consistently honored as one of the top-10 high school newspapers in the country from the late 1990s to 2009 by the National Scholastic Press Association and the Columbia Scholastic Press Association.
Historically AHS has also had a competitive football program. The Atoms have won six state championships since 1965, and were ranked as the best high school football team in the country by the National Sports Service after completing an undefeated season in 1978. The team has seen district-wide and sporadic statewide success since the mid-1990s.
Annandale was chosen in 1998 as the site and focus of the Race Initiative Advisory Board's round-table discussions on race and education. The event was hosted by members of the board, including Thomas Kean and William Winter, and chaired by historian John Hope Franklin. The discussions were held as part of President Bill Clinton's One America Initiative.
In 2006, then-Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings visited Annandale to announce that a $188,000 grant would be given to Fairfax County Public Schools to expand Arabic and Chinese programs, as part of the National Security Language Initiative. At the time, Annandale students taking Arabic were among "the less than 1 percent of high school students studying languages deemed critical."
In October 2011, AHS was again noted by the White House for its cultural diversity, hosting a visit by First Lady Michelle Obama and First Lady of South Korea Kim Yoon-ok, both of whom praised the school's widespread ethic make-up in speeches to the student body. During her address, Obama said of AHS, “This is the perfect place for you to find out who you are and what you want to become, and that’s really what education is all about.” The visits were accompanied by a ceremony featuring Grammy-nominated violinist Jennifer Koh. At the time, Madame Kim was traveling on a state visit to the US with her husband, Korean President Lee Myung-bak, who were invited as guests of honor to a White House dinner that week after Congress approved the Korea-US Free Trade Agreement. During the 2009–2010 school year, Korean and other Asian-Americans represented 22 percent of the AHS student body.
In 2011–2012, Annandale's student body was 32.28% Hispanic, 23.97% White, 24.97% Asian, 16.37% Black and 2.41% other. During the 2011–2012 school year, 51.89% of the student body received free or reduced price lunch. 74.79% of the school was proficient in English. No single racial group formed the majority. AHS is considered one of the most diverse schools among FCPS, itself one of the most diverse school districts in the country.
The 2009–2010 school year marked the first year that Hispanic students represented a plurality of Annandale students, and the first year in the school's history that any racial group other than White students represented a plurality within the student body. In fact, White students represent the only group not to see consistent growth in percentage student body representation over the last three years.
The A-Blast is Annandale High School's student-run, student-sponsored newspaper. It was consistently recognized as one of the top-10, +17-page high school newspapers in the country from the late 1990s to 2009, during which the paper won a number of National Scholastic Press Association Pacemaker Awards, placed among the Best-in-Show at a variety of NSPA national conventions, and won the Columbia Scholastic Press Association Gold Crown Award (in 2009). The A-Blast has also been a national fore-runner among high school papers for publishing online content, being one of the first fourteen newspapers in the country to be awarded the NSPA's Pacemaker Award for an Online Edition. The A-Blast, in 2009, had adopted a new multimedia program which trains journalism students to create projects pertaining to the news around Annandale High School, and is currently in its fourth production year.
The A-Blast is a Washington Post Young Journalists Development Program Paper. The paper's writers and editors receive publishing and content-related guidance from Post professional staff, and periodically visit The Washington Post headquarters in Washington, D.C., for collaborative workshops. A-Blast editors regularly participate in Post programs for high school students, including the High School Writing Seminar and the High School Journalism Workshop. The A-Blast is printed on The Washington Post press in Springfield, VA.
However, the A-Blast has not been free from criticism from some sources, such as ResistanceMedia.org, a right-wing website that promotes "public school reform and family rights", as well as users on the anonymous forum Fairfax Underground.
ResistanceMedia published an article on October 5, 2016 that accused the A-Blast of "spurious and borderline libelous claims" about 2016 Republican nominee Donald Trump, in reference to an A-Blast editorial that stated Trump's campaign slogan, Make America Great Again, is "inherently racist" and "related to the ideas of the Ku Klux Klan." ResistanceMedia also took issues to various articles published by the A-Blast that attacked critics of football player Colin Kaepernick, argued for "diversification of the teaching profession" (which ResistanceMedia characterized as racial discrimination against whites) and stated that Donald Trump was similar to Nazi dictator Adolf Hitler. The site further claimed that school employees who operate the A-Blast are deliberately "censoring and puppeteering" the newspaper and silencing conservative voices.
The A-Blast uses WordPress as its technology platform and is hosted by School Newspapers Online.
In 50 years, Annandale has won six football state championships (1965, 1967, 1972, 1978, 1993, and 1994) and numerous district titles as a member of both the Potomac District (Pre-resdistricting) and the Patriot District (Post redistricting). After an undefeated season in 1978, Annandale ended the year ranked #1 in the nation by the National Sports Service. Annandale won Patriot District titles in 2005, 2006,2007, and 2009 (shared with West Springfield High School), but the Atoms fell to their first round opponents each year.
Opening its doors in 1954, Annandale High School had 1,000 students, ranging in grades eight-eleven. During this time, the students voted to call themselves "Atoms" after the influence from president Dwight D. Eisenhower's speech called "Atoms for Peace." In the late 1980s, Annandale High School was involved in the creation of the Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology (TJHHST), ranked as the best high school in the country in 2010 by US News and World Report. TJHSST is one of 18 Virginia Governor's Schools.
The former Thomas Jefferson High School (Jefferson, TJHS), originally occupied the FCPS building of the current TJHSST. Over a two-year period, from 1985 to 1987, the Jefferson students were merged into Annandale. The former TJHS students, now Annandale seniors, were appropriately given the one-time special distinction to use a dual name, TJHS/AHS, for school year 1987–88. No students from Jefferson or TJHSST graduated in 1988.
Annandale High School was ranked #122, with a score of 1.391, in The Washington Post's 2010 Challenge Index, an annual ranking of public high schools in the Washington Metropolitan Area. Each school's score, and rank, was based on a simple formula: "divide the number of Advanced Placement, International Baccalaureate or other college-level tests a school gave in 2009 by the number of graduating seniors." 172 schools were ranked in 2010. In 2008 Annandale placed #105 (out of 166) in the Challenge Index, with a score of 1.542, and in 2007 it was ranked #107 (out of 190), with a score of 1.425.
In early 2010, the Annandale Border Control Force was established by local parent and community groups. Their goal was to realign the school borders by sending residents of Annandale to adjacent county schools such as Falls Church High School and sending Springfield residents to Lake Braddock Secondary School in an effort to address the overcrowding at Annandale High School. The issue has been long and contentious with some residents and students loyal to Annandale. Several options for preventing the realigning and reassigning of students of certain housing developments to different middle and high schools were suggested to the county school board. A major concern to the Annandale parent and community groups included losing sections of the Annandale community which would change the diverse demographics of the school.
Enrollment at AHS during the 2009–2010 school year was 2,257 students. Enrollment at the school reached over 2,000 students for the first time during the 1995–1996 school year. After that year, enrollment grew each year for a decade before reaching 2,568 students during the 2003–2004 school year. Since then, enrollment has experienced non-streaking growth and decline, though has remained at over 2,000 students. During the 2007–2008 school year, enrollment reached a ten-year low of 2,045 students.
AHS has the following FCPS Programs:Advancement Via Individual Determination (AVID)
Early Identification Program (EIP)
English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL)
International Baccalaureate Middle Years Program (IBMYP)
International Baccalaureate Program (IB)
Transitional High School Program
Special Education- servicing Learning Disabilities, Emotional Disabilities, MR/DD Autism and MOD.
In addition to standard foreign languages (Latin, French, Spanish), Arabic is offered, making Annandale one of the few high schools in the country to offer such a program.
Jim Acosta, CNN Chief White House Correspondent, Graduated Annandale High School 1989.
Larry Asante, safety for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 5th round draft pick in 2010. (Did not graduate from Annandale. Graduated from Hayfield Secondary School
Roger Craig, recurrent Jeopardy! contestant who holds a number of the show's all-time records
Ray Crittenden, professional American football player for the New England Patriots (1993–94) and San Diego Chargers (1997) and CFL (1995–96)
James R. Clapper, Director of National Intelligence, and retired Lieutenant General of the U.S. Air Force. (Did not graduate from Annandale)
Amanda Cromwell, head coach for the UCLA Bruins women's soccer team and former United States women's national soccer team player.
Claire G. Gastanaga, former Chief Deputy Attorney General of Virginia, now Executive Director of the ACLU of Virginia
Faisal Gill, former Senior Policy Advisor at the Department of Homeland Security who was the subject of the 2004 Faisal Gill Affair, a media storm concerning his ties with the American Muslim Council
Clarence Goodson, professional soccer player for the San Jose Earthquakes of Major League Soccer. (did not graduate from AHS)
Dave Grohl, American rock musician, instrumentalist, and singer-songwriter, perhaps best known as the lead vocalist, guitarist, and songwriter for the Foo Fighters, and as the drummer for the former grunge band, Nirvana (did not graduate from AHS)
Kevin M. Guthrie, CEO of Ithaka, class of 1980, member of 1978 championship football team, former Princeton record-holding wide receiver, pro football player
Fawn Hall, former secretary to Lt. Colonel Oliver North and a notable figure in the Iran-Contra Affair
Bill Hamid, professional American soccer player for D.C. United (2009–present)
Mark Hamill, actor and voice artist, best known for playing Luke Skywalker in the original Star Wars trilogy (did not graduate from AHS)
Mark Hoppus, bass guitarist and vocalist, co-founder and member of Blink-182 and +44, host of Hoppus on Music (did not graduate from AHS)
Rob Huebel, comedian and actor, known for playing Owen Maestro in the television series Childrens Hospital, and himself in the series Human Giant; he was the voice of the Anchorman in Despicable Me
Robin Jennings, Former MLB player (Chicago Cubs, Oakland Athletics, Colorado Rockies, Cincinnati Reds)
Adel Sarras, soccer player Longwood University and The Strongest in Bolivia.
Michael Vitez, journalist for the Philadelphia Inquirer, and winner of the 1997 Pulitzer Prize in Explanatory Journalism
Dylan Walsh, class of 1981, actor, known for his role as Dr. Sean McNamara in the television series Nip Tuck and as Detective Al Burns in the series Unforgettable
Mitchell Frank, three time all American tennis player at University of Virginia and 6 time national champion.
Tony Cavalero, American Actor. Most known for his role as Dewey Finn on Nickelodeon's "School of Rock."
Kugler, Eileen Gale (2003). Debunking the Middle-Class Myth: Why Diverse Schools Are Good For All Kids. Scarecrow Education Press.