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How Hayfield has changed

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After returning home from the Revolutionary War, General George Washington decided to sell the western portion of the land that made up his Mount Vernon estate to a cousin of his, Lund Washington. When Lund died, the land passed through a series of different owners. Throughout all of these transactions, however, the land maintained its original name: Hayfield.

In 1963, the land was sold to a developer, and the plans for the neighborhood Hayfield Farms were drawn up and gradually executed. Such an expansive new neighborhood required a new school for all of the resident’s children, and thus Hayfield Secondary was born.

The school got off to a bit of a rough start; delayed construction forced opening day to be pushed back, and prospective students had to take classes at Edison and Mark Twain in the afternoons while the builders completed the project. The school finally opened in September of 1969, with its first class of students graduating at Edison in the ‘68-‘69 school year.

The hawk mascot attends a game in ’78.

A dramahawk prepares for the ‘78 musical.

This school year marks the 50th anniversary of the school, and the class of 1978 is hosting a multi-year reunion this homecoming in honor of the momentous anniversary. Alumni from various years will be congregating to catch up with each other and reminisce about their memories from high school.

But just how much can a school change in fifty years? As Fairfax County’s population increased from about 400,000 in 1970 to over a million in 2017 (fairfaxcounty.gov), the area around Hayfield became more and more built up.

“The whole area obviously has developed like crazy,” Laurie Osisek Napier, who graduated from Hayfield in 1983, said. “When I was in school, there was no stoplight at Hayfield and Telegraph road. I remember across Hayfield road, there was a house that had cows in the front yard where now there are townhouses. Hayfield road was a two laned road all the way to Beulah; there was nothing on that road. Even the Hayfield shopping center wasn’t there when I went to school.”

The Kingstowne area has continued to experience rapid development even within the past two decades, noted class of 2001 graduate Thom Miller.

“Many of the stores I used to go to are gone,” Miller said. “Also, now you’ve got [a] Wegmans! That was never there when I was in school.”

Hayfield’s structure has changed as well. In 2002, the school began undergoing a series of extensive renovations that were completed in 2005. These renovations both updated the old facilities and altered the footprint of the school.

“Hayfield has definitely changed physically,” Sara Joy Lebowitz, class of 1996, said. “That whole front lobby area where the main office and the big hawk statue [are] didn’t exist when I went to school. That next set of doors was the front door for us.”

A student types in class next to a Rolodex in ’88.

Members of the Future Business Leaders of America of ’88 smile for the yearbook.

Students hang out in the bathroom in ’88.

Social norms change as time passes, and Hayfield is no exception. In the past fifty years, various student activities have fallen in and out of fashion.

“When I was in school we had lots of dances,” Napier said. “They were [held] in the main lobby area, and it would just be like ‘oh, it’s Friday night, it’s a school dance.’ It wasn’t a date thing, it was just everybody went and danced. [They] were a lot of fun.”

Over the past fifty years, almost every sports team at Hayfield experienced their heyday, from wrestling to gymnastics.

“I remember our Men’s gymnastics [team was] really good,” Napier said. “I did field hockey for four years, I did soccer for four years, I did cheer for two years, [and] I did track for two years, and all [of] the sports that I participated in were kind of in the middle of the road in our conference.”

Miller tells a different story from his time in high school.

“The basketball team was outstanding and so was our wrestling squad,” Miller said. “The chorus program was fantastic, and the drama program was very competitive as well. We were frequently nominated for Cappies in many areas. ”

A student studies her computer screen in ’98.

Two students prepare for a ’98 powderpuff game.

While Hayfield itself experienced some changes over the years, its reputation has also shifted substantially since it first opened. In the 2000 movie Remember the Titans, which took place in 1971 at T.C. Williams High School, Hayfield is off-handedly mentioned as being an ‘all-white’ school. This would have been a fairly accurate statement at the time of the film’s setting, when Hayfield first opened it was primarily caucasian, but now Hayfield has one of the most ethnically diverse student bodies in the county.

As most current Hayfield students can attest, students from wealthier schools in Fairfax County have a tendency to look down on Hayfield, with some even going so far as to say that the school is unsafe. Lebowitz recalls a similar reputation from when she was in school.

“My mom always said a lot of people came up [to her] and said, ‘how can you let your children go there?’ because people [looked] at it as not the best school in Fairfax County. There had been talks of kids having drugs, fights and gangs,” Lebowitz said. “But being there, it was a fabulous school. Somehow it got [a bad] reputation, but that reputation wasn’t valid in our minds. We loved it. I never felt unsafe being there.”

An orchestra student cheers on a friend in ’08.

Powderpuff cheerleaders prepare for the game in ’08.

As many adults and alumni are quick to note, students at Hayfield in the 2010s are living in a drastically different and more technologically advanced world than students of previous generations. Smartphones and social media have reshaped the definition of what it means to be a high schooler. When asked about how she thought the experience of high schoolers today differed from her own, Lebowitz responded without hesitation.

“The technology is the biggest difference,” Lebowitz said. “We didn’t have smartphones, [and] we didn’t have social media. Cell phones didn’t do the kind of things they do now; if we wanted to go hang out somewhere we had to call each other, or we had to make plans in school. We didn’t have Smartboards. We had those projectors where they had to write on [a] screen and then wipe it off.”

Miller agrees with this assessment.

“Technology in classrooms has changed a lot in the past 17 years,” Miller said. “I would imagine that would have a drastic impact on student instruction. I am now a professor at Syracuse University, and much of the course content is offered online by many instructors.”

Despite all of the changes over the past fifty years, some things have remained constant through multiple generations. Napier noted that one of her favorite activities in school was attending the weekly football games, and she made some of her favorite memories from high school when she visited France with her French class, both of which still occur today. Lebowitz cited Springfield Mall as one of the favorite hang out spots for Hayfield students; similarly, today’s students frequent the renovated town center. Miller mentioned his love of Hot Bagel, and the restaurant is still a favorite breakfast destination for many hawks. Hayfield Secondary has both a fascinating history and a rich tradition, and hawk pride persists amongst current students and alumni alike.

Football players watch their teammates play against Robinson on Sept. 28.

The marching band performs their halftime show on Sept. 28.

Students show their spirit with luaus on Sept. 28.

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