Administration Marks the Routes to College Excellence

Joe Kratz, Managing Editor

One of the biggest changes that has taken place in our school this year is the introduction of names and “road signs” for all of our previously anonymous hallways. Just before break, the faculty and staff voted on names for all of Falls Church High School’s hallways, naming them after various in-state colleges and universities, as well as service academies.
The main science hallway was renamed after Hampton University, so is now known as Pirates Parkway, with the name “Pirates” referencing the mascot of Hampton. The main front hall is Lancer Lane in recognition of Longwood University, while the cafeteria and gym hall have become Dukes Drive for James Madison University.
Armed Forces Hall goes by the Little Theatre, and near the Small Gym the perpendicular hallway is Rams Road for VCU. If you’re going to auto tech or the weight room, that hallway is Hokie Highway in honor of Virginia Tech. The math hallway is named in honor of the University of Virginia as Cavalier Court, with the math offshoot hall garnering the University of Richmond’s name as Spider Street. Then, Northern Virginia Community College rounded out the bottom half of our school, with the back hallway being named Nighthawk Lane.
Moving upstairs, George Mason University became the history hallway’s new namesake, Patriot Place. The world languages hallway is now Eagles Avenue, renamed after the University of Mary Washington, and last, but certainly not least, the upstairs English hallway was rededicated for the College of William and Mary as Tribe Way.
The colleges and universities chosen for the hallway rededications were selected because they are the schools that FCHS students apply to most often. The hallway naming was undertaken in order to give Falls Church students a constant reminder of the importance of college, and the reality, that anyone can, and should, continue their education after high school.
But why is the school doubling-down on colleges that students are already applying to? There should have been a variety of colleges and universities on the ballot given to faculty that decided the hallway names, in order to expand our schools’ collegiate horizons. The hallways could have taken after some of the United States’ most elite academic schools, such as the Ivy League institutions, or other illustrious institutions like the University of Chicago, Duke, the Massachusetts Institution of Technology, Stanford, or Johns Hopkins University.
If proximity was the deciding factor, why are the hallways not named for Georgetown University, American University, Howard University, Catholic, or the National War College? Or the colleges could have been selected based on the New York Times accessibility index, a compilation of various data points used to measure a school’s accessibility for low and middle income students. This would have led to hallways for the University of Florida, Pomona, Amherst, not to mention Harvard and almost every University of California school.
The school could have also catered to our students with disabilities by naming a hallway after Gallaudet University, a historic college in the District of Columbia that was founded with the express purpose of educating the blind and hearing impaired.
Nevertheless, the importance of reaffirming higher education in a high school should not be undervalued, because this serves a valuable purpose. High school administrative staff across the country strive to provide their students with a springboard into post-secondary education, and this administration is attempting to do the same. But, the variety of schools, and the criteria used to determine what schools were candidates, should have been much larger, and should have encompassed a much larger swath of schools, in order to foster an atmosphere of college excellence at a school as academically, socioeconomically, and ethnically diverse as Falls Church High School.