Our History and Traditions


Highland School, located on a 42-acre campus in the heart of Warrenton, Virginia, was originally founded in 1928 by Dorothy Rust and Lavinia Hamilton. What started as the Warrenton Branch of the Calvert School with nine elementary school students and two teachers has grown to more than 480 students across three divisions, a faculty of 70 and an administrative staff of 30.
Since 1928, Highland School has evolved from a local community school to a regional institution with graduates who matriculate to colleges and universities across the nation and around the world. The fundamental nature of Highland School remains unchanged, however. We are committed to providing students with a rich and rigorous education in a supportive and caring environment.


Here is a timeline of significant events at Highland School since 1928:


Dorothy Rust and Lavinia Hamilton establish the School as the Warrenton Branch of the Calvert School on the lower floor of what is now the John Barton Payne building in Old Town Warrenton.


Misses Rust and Hamilton move the school to St. James Episcopal Church on Culpeper Street in Warrenton. 


School is renamed Highland School and moved to our current location.


Each grade expands into two sections. School adds science labs, classroom, art center, music room, computer labs, guidance center, resource room, and expanded library


Upper School established with 9th and 10th-grade students. Grades 11 and 12 were added as students moved up.


Construction of the Highland Center for the Arts completed, marking the successful completion of Highland's first strategic plan.


Campus Master Plan adopted as part of a new strategic plan.


Improvements to the campus include a new Upper School Humanities Wing, artificial turf fields and new dedicated Bermuda athletic fields adjacent the Middle School.


New Philosophy Statement approved by Highland's Board and faculty.


Learning Center Endowment established with a gift from Kenan Trust.


The new William A. Hazel Family Lower School opens.


Hazel Family Lower School awarded the Silver Leadership in Environmental and Energy Design (LEED) Certification – the first school in Fauquier County to earn this status for its focus on environmentally sensitive construction and operational methods that have a positive impact on the health of occupants and promote the use of clean and renewable energy. 


Extensive renovation of Highland's Middle School building completed. This renovation modernized the facility with the addition of the Johnson Academic Media Center, a new library space and dedicated technology lab, and increased classroom space and capacity for students.


Renovations of Hazel Family Library in Upper School completed. The renovation resulted in a more flexible and collaborative space for students and school events for faculty, students, and parents.


Highland Center for the Arts renamed for long-time Artistic Director Mike Hughes. The newly-christened Michael A. Hughes Center for the Arts is dedicated as part of the 15th Anniversary Gala honoring Mr. Hughes and Paul and Gina Rice and their family for the gift that established the center in 2003.


Highland’s modest beginnings harbored the promise of a school that today benefits from some of the finest facilities in the region. Looking ahead, Highland School and its dedicated faculty and staff will seek to sustain and refine its programs, reaffirm the essential character components of integrity and compassion while educating for twenty-first-century capacities. As a community of learners committed to the belief that reflective practices engender growth, we reaffirm Highland's mission and prepare our students to make positive contributions to their world.


Traditions are a cornerstone of a Highland School education. No matter what division you're in or how old you are, there are events and activities that connect you to Highland's long history. Whether you're taking part in a field studies trip, competing in a field day event with classmates, or dressing like a famous person, for many, Highland's traditions are rites of passage.

Check out the article from former Athletic Director Barbara Wilkes on the long-standing Blue/Gold competitions in the Lower and Middle Schools.

Are You Blue or Gold?

Written by Barbara Wilkes, former Highland Athletic Director

When I started teaching at Highland School in 1974, the Blue/​Gold Competition was run by Barbara Woolman. At that time, it was strictly an athletic competition. Fourth and fifth grade boys and girls played in soccer games in the Fall and sixth through eighth grade boys and girls competed in soccer and field hockey.

In 1974, Blue/Gold was Athletics Only

That Spring, the boys played a baseball game and the girls played soccer. The final Blue/​Gold competition was field day. Field day events were the dash, shot put, softball throw, high jump, obstacle course, long jump, distance and the relays. Ribbons were given out for first through fourth place. Also, a trophy was awarded to the Blue and Gold girl and boy earning the most points during the field day competitions.

At the end of the year, there was an awards banquet held at St. James Episcopal Church where ribbons for field day and the trophies for most points and academic awards were given out. At the end of this banquet, the winning team for the year was announced. The Captain for each team was picked strictly by who had the highest grade point average and there was only one captain per team.

Co-Captains Added in the Late 1970’s

In the late 1970s, the faculty decided it would be best if there was a Co-Captain. The Captain was the student on each team that had the highest grade point average and the Co-Captain was the person of the opposite sex that had the highest grade point average. The other competitions stayed the same. In the 1980s, the faculty added sportsmanship alongside high academics to be part of how the captain was chosen. 

As student numbers increased, the soccer throw was added to the list of Field Day events. In the late 1980s, lacrosse was added as a Spring sport, and that replaced baseball and girls soccer. As the school grew, the banquet wasn’t a possibility and we separated the Field Day Awards from the Academic Awards Night. 

We add two more places for each Field Day so first through sixth place were awarded and handed out at the end of each event. The trophies for most points earned were handed out at the end of field day and the winning team was announced. Also, the high jump was dropped as an event. 

In the late 1990s the pep rally was added and Andy Morgan started the Spirit of the Hawk award. The Blue/​Gold Competition stayed this way until 2003 when I started teaching computers. I believe it is pretty much the same now. Field Day was renamed Barbara Wilkes Field Day when I retired in 2007.

This article was originally written by Barbara Wilkes, former Highland School Athletic Director and Physical Education teacher, for the Fall 2014 issue of Highland Magazine.


Highland School is a co-ed independent Pre-K2 to Grade 12 day school located in Warrenton, Virginia.