The early history of Langston Hughes Middle School is entwined with that of South Lakes High School. South Lakes originally opened as a secondary school on September 5, 1978, with more than 1,600 students in grades 7-10. Fairfax County Public Schools officials planned for South Lakes to operate as a secondary school for two years until a new intermediate school could be built, after which South Lakes would become a full-fledged high school.
On September 4, 1979, South Lakes began opening day with some 2,100 students in grades 7-11. A separate intermediate school for grades 7-8 was organized under principal Elizabeth Lodal. FCPS officials hoped to have the intermediate school building complete for the start of the 1980-81 school year on September 2, 1980, but that didn't come to fruition. When schools opened in September, students in grades 7-12 occupied the South Lakes building. The student body was again divided into two separate schools, one for the intermediate grades and another for the high school grades. For two months, students attended school on double-shifts with children in grades 9-12 attending school from 7:00 a.m. to 12:15 p.m., and students in grades 7-8 attending school from 12:30 p.m. to 5:15 p.m.
In 1960, when the first intermediate schools opened, Fairfax County Public Schools began a longstanding tradition of naming such schools for famous authors and poets. During the 1979-80 school year, while our school was under construction, Principal Elizabeth Lodal began informally asking students and parents which American literary figure our school should be named for. Two names quickly rose to the top of the list: Edna St. Vincent Millay and Langston Hughes. Both Millay and Hughes were born around the turn of the last century and became famous in New York City in the 1920s. Millay was considered the foremost female poet of her time, winning the Pulitzer Prize for poetry in 1923. Hughes, well known as a writer of poetry, prose, fiction, and children's books passed away in 1967, and at the time of our school's construction there was a national resurgence of interest in his work. On June 12, 1980, the Fairfax County School Board officially named the intermediate school at South Lakes the Langston Hughes Intermediate School. Our school was renamed Langston Hughes Middle School in the early 1990s.
Why was poet Langston Hughes so famous?
Design and Construction
Langston Hughes Middle School was designed by architect Douglas Carter of the firm Davis, Smith, Carter and Rider, Inc. Carter's design was also used for Rocky Run Middle School, and both buildings were planned to accommodate a total of 1,200 students. The construction contract for our building was awarded to the Caristo Construction Company in the amount of $5.5 million. Caristo Construction was contracted to build Langston Hughes and Rocky Run at the same time. Inadequate resources applied to the job by the contractor and specifically the electrical sub-contractor led to the delayed completion of our school.
From January 2019 to late 2021, Langston Hughes Middle School underwent a $42 million dollar renovation to bring the building new life. A brand new two-story addition was added to the front left of the school and provided a 21st Century appearance and functionality to LHMS. The new addition welcomes students, staff, and visitors into Hughes with a wide and bright two-story entrance, a new main office, student services offices, 8th grade subject area classrooms on the first floor, while welcoming students into a Library with wall-to-wall windows and Science classrooms on the second floor. The new addition and complete renovation will provide ample natural light, 21st Century technology and a welcoming learning environment for our students.