Exploring the History of Falls Church High School

By John Cascella, Staff Writer

Did you realize that the
Falls Church High School we know
now has not always been on Jaguar
Trail? The roots of what has
become FCHS were established in
1873 under the name of Jefferson
School. That complex today is not
in use as a school, but its location
is now Donald Frady Park, and it is
located in the City of Falls Church
on the north side of Broad Street
between Fairfax and Cherry streets.
Jefferson School was retired and its
students and faculty became Falls
Church High School because Fairfax
County’s population was growing
and more school facilities were
needed. Jefferson School was in
session from 1873 to 1945.
After the Class of 1945
graduated, Jefferson School moved
to the original Falls Church High
School building, which was also
found in the city of Falls Church
and at the intersection of Cherry
Street and Hillwood Avenue. Falls
Church High School was only two
blocks away from the Jefferson
School. This original Falls Church
High School building (which was
later used by John Greenleaf Whittier
Intermediate School) was demolished in the 1980s due to its
old age.
As the student body of Jefferson
prepared to become Falls
Church High School in the spring
of 1945, a vote was held to decide
on the new school’s mascot.
The seniors and juniors elected
to keep tradition alive and maintain
the Jaguar nickname that had
been used at Jefferson.
The old Falls Church High
School and the new Falls Church
High School have many sports in
common like football, baseball,
basketball, and field hockey. Other
traditions, like this newspaper,
remain in place as well. A student
newspaper, called the Jaguar Journal,
was established in the last year
that Jefferson was in existence. At
some point after shifting to Falls
Church High School, the name of
the newspaper was changed from
the Jaguar Journal to the Jagwire.
After opening its new
building for the start of the 1945-
46 school year, Falls Church High
School taught grades 9 through
12. Since the fall of 1968, Falls
Church High School has been at
our current building here on Jaguar Trail.
But this building hasn’t always
been Falls Church High School.
When it was built in 1960, our current
building was called John Greenleaf
Whittier Intermediate School.
In the fall of 1968, Whittier Intermediate
and Falls Church High School
swapped buildings and this building
here on Jaguar Trail was doubled in
size due to the increased class sizes
that accompanied the Baby Boomer
You can see the evidence of the smaller, older school here if
you look carefully. Next time you
come in through the front door, notice
that there is a seam in the floor
as you turn right and cross in front
of the main office; this seam shows
where the addition to FCHS begins,
extending all the way down to the
cafeteria and the gym lobby. Also
consider the Little Theatre and the
Small Gym—these had been the
main auditorium and gym in the old
days when this building was used by
the Whittier student body.