The 10 Best High Schools in Virginia

With its booming economy, affordable healthcare, and rich background, Virginia makes for one  of the best states in the nation to raise a family. Is it a surprise, then, that it also holds terrific educational opportunities?

While sheltered in the borders of this state, young men and women have plenty of opportunities to learn from the world around them. 

As one of the oldest states in the nation, Virginia’s rich history seems to act as its own classroom, teaching its residents through the simple act of living. 

In Colonial Williamsburg, tourists and locals alike can step back in time and experience life as it was during the early days of America’s birth. 

On the weekends, teenagers have plenty of healthy activities to keep them out of trouble: hiking the Shenandoah National Park, exploring Arlington Cemetary, or playing around in Busch Gardens. 

Without a doubt, Virginia holds boundless learning opportunities, and few are better than the rich education to be found in its robust school system. 

Though life with a teenager can be full of ups and downs, in any of these high schools in Virginia, parents can rest assured that their teens are receiving a top-notch education!

After researching all possible aspects of secondary education, we have compiled a list of 10 of the best high schools in Virginia, in no particular order. 

We chose these schools as they have been selected among the best high schools in Virginia by major publications, and the sources for those are at the bottom of the school.

Read on to find out more about any of the best high schools in Virginia. 

Marshall High School (Falls Church, Virginia)

Marshall High School
G. Edward Johnson, George Marshall High School entrance Falls Church VA, CC BY 4.0

Marshall High School would be nothing without the extraordinary efforts of its world-class faculty. Recently, several of these faculty members received statewide recognition due to their tireless commitment to education in the face of a global pandemic.

One of these, French language teacher Matthew Hanlon, rose above the crowd to be awarded the best secondary teacher in all of “region 2.” What’s more, he moved on to become one of just five finalists to compete for the role of the best secondary teacher in the state! 

Mr. Hanlon is one of many teachers at Marshall High School who promote learning through a process of positive relationship building. By providing the structure students need to succeed and introducing a rigorous curriculum, Mr. Hanlon keeps things fresh and learning fun.

Other nominees in the recent round of awards include Olivia Tate, who was nominated for the best new teacher in the state, and Darrell General, who was nominated for the best custodian. 

Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology (Alexandria, Virginia)

Fully funded by the Virginia Department of Education, the Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology is a four-year, full-day program that offers students the same experiences as a traditional high school as they focus on a vital area of study. 

Currently, this school is ranked as top in the state and has the highest college readiness ranking in the nation! Just as important, they have the highest graduation rate in the entire country. 

The Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology may be a magnet school, but it provides boundless opportunities far beyond the obvious math and science courses. 

Holding to their belief that the best education is well-rounded, this high school reserves eighth period specifically for clubs, athletic activities, or study hall. In doing so, they allow their students to control their educations, time, and lives better.

During this period, students can participate in any 180 clubs and organizations, all dedicated to teaching students a new skill or encouraging them to follow a new area of study. From the Philosopher’s Club to the JRR Tolkien Fellowship, students have plenty to keep them busy and fulfilled in their education!

James Madison High School (Vienna, Virginia)

While enrolled in Madison High School, students find a home within a high school that truly cares about the art of education. 

A full eighty percent of all students take at least one AP exam during their time on this campus, while an impressive seventy-two percent pass at least one exam. 

This is especially impressive considering that, on average, less than sixty-five percent of all students in the nation who participate in AP exams find such success. 

As part of encouraging students to think of life after high school, Madison High School hosts charity events and guest speakers. 

Most recently, students received a visit from Ted Dintersmith, a renowned author and alumni of this very school. 

Since his own time in these halls, Ted has found success through talking and writing about the high school experience, imagining what school can truly be. With his film crew, he interviewed students and teachers alike, discussing the idea of the ideal high school. 

Langley High School (Mclean, Virginia)

The second school in this list to come from the thriving Fairfax Country School System, Langley High School takes pride in knowing that when its graduates walk across that stage, they are fully prepared for whatever life may throw at them.

In 2020, Langley High School became one of the elite schools awarded by Great Schools with the College Success Award. Given to only a small portion of our nation’s schools, this award signifies that a school has gone above and beyond in its college preparation.

Today, they continue to build on that legacy, as they stand as the third-best college in the state in terms of college readiness.

With just over 2,000 kids in the entire student body, Langley High School maintains all the advantages of a much larger school without losing that small-town feel. 

A student-teacher ratio of seventeen to one keeps class sizes low, ensuring every student can feel both seen and heard.  

McLean High School (McLean, Virginia)

To date, McLean High School celebrates an astonishingly high graduation rate of ninety-nine percent. This is partly due to their philosophy of keeping learning fun and engaging. 

The administration at McLean takes pride in celebrating all facets of student life, including the arts programs. 

In the most recent theater season, the theater team taking home many coveted prizes, including Best Play, Best Sound, and Best Hair/Makeup. 

A recent parental survey revealed that this group was not the only one who felt the warmth and welcome of this school. 

Eighty-six percent of parents reported that they felt this school welcomed families of all backgrounds and cultures. 

No matter the child, no matter their interests, McLean High School goes above and beyond in helping them feel encouraged, accepted, and appreciated.

Open High School (Richmond, Virginia)

After being established in 1972 as an alternative public school, Open High School has gone on to grow in name and reputation. 

Currently, it stands as the number four school in the state of Virginia according to US News, where it celebrates an astonishing 100% graduation rate

This may be a young school, but it has already celebrated several renowned alumni, all of whom point to this institution as a role in their success. 

Anne Holton, the secretary of education over the state of Virginia, first walked these halls as a young girl before moving on to even greater educational success. 

Other alumni include rock star Aimee Mann and Noah Scalin, a contemporary artist. 

In a big city, Open High School offers a public school experience with the intimate feel of a private school. With around 200 students, this high school keeps class sizes as small as possible, urging students to work collaboratively as they build towards their future college educations.

This school believes that students should be encouraged as self-directed, independent learners and thinkers. 

Oakton High School (Vienna, Virginia)

Oakton High School
Oakton High School, Oakton High School, CC BY-SA 4.0

Oakton high school is more than just the number six high school in the state of Virginia; it is part of a home, where the staff goes above and beyond to share their love with the community. 

To show their support for the student body and the surrounding community, Oakton High School maintains The Oakton Pantry. Here, anyone in need can find free and nonjudgemental access to food, hygiene items, or even household cleaning supplies. 

This high school stands proudly for its community in Vienna, Virginia and is dedicated to making this an even better place to raise a family.

Recently, Vienna was announced as one of the safest cities in Virginia and the country. 

W.T. Woodson High School (Fairfax, Virginia)

W.T. Woodson High School did not earn its place on the top ten list by accident; it did so through significant efforts toward college readiness and to cement its importance in the heart of its community.

The school leadership goes above and beyond in communicating with parents, publishing a weekly newsletter detailing the needs and wins of their student body. Here, parents can easily learn about the dozens of activities and events this high school hosts.  

The College and Career Readiness Center stays packed with activities, keeping students up to date on every possible scholarship and deadline as they build toward their college careers. 

This school continues to build up the community at night by hosting night classes for adult learners

Richmond Community High School (Richmond, Virginia)

Richmond Community High School strives towards promoting a community where every student has the tools they need to succeed in whatever they choose to pursue. In addition to offering the typical athletic opportunities, they also schedule time into the day for biweekly club periods. 

During this time, students are encouraged to participate in any of the dozens of clubs on campus: poetry, robotics, debate, fitness, yearbook, or wherever their interests may carry them! 

This support only goes with success. For years, Richmond students have chased their dreams at various colleges all over the country. 

One such student, TK Johnson of the class of 2018, chased her passions to the Berklee College of Music. 

Since receiving her diploma there, she has been busy touring the world, performing on television, and otherwise living the life she first dreamt of as a student at Richmond Community High School. 

West Springfield High School (Springfield, Virginia)

From the arts to crafts, West Springfield High School makes sure that every student feels the support they need to succeed.

Students interested in pursuing a career in the arts– either through drawing or writing– will be excited by the opportunity to be published in The Symposium, this school’s exclusive, award-winning literary magazine.

By offering students the chance to submit their work for possible publication, West Springfield High School gives them a chance to experience a sample of what they can look forwards to in a college setting.

Alternatively, it also goes the extra mile to support students who hope to enter trade school or join the vital American workforce after graduation. 

West Springfield High School invites alumni who have previously undertaken the challenges of trade school to come back and share with first-year classes how they went about the process of achieving this level of certification. 


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