Our History

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's a timeline of significant events at Highland School since 1928:

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.

1929: Misses Rust and Hamilton move the school to St. James Episcopal Church on Culpeper Street in Warrenton. 

1957: School is renamed Highland School and moved to our current location.

1995: Each grade expands into two sections. School adds science labs, classroom, art center, music room, computer labs, guidance center, resource room, and expanded library

1996: Upper School established with 9th and 10th-grade students. Grades 11 and 12 were added as students moved up.

2004: Construction of the Highland Center for the Arts completed, marking the successful completion of Highland's first strategic plan.

2005: Campus Master Plan adopted as part of a new strategic plan.

2008: Improvements to the campus include a new Upper School Humanities Wing, artificial turf fields and new dedicated Bermuda athletic fields adjacent the Middle School.

2009: New Philosophy Statement approved by Highland's Board and faculty.

2009: Learning Center Endowment established with a gift from Kenan Trust.

2010: The new William A. Hazel Family Lower School opens.

2011: 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. 

2012: 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.

2014: 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.

2019: 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 at 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.  



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