Edgar Allan Poe Middle School opened on September 1, 1960, and was one of the very first intermediate schools opened by Fairfax County Public Schools. In 1958, the Fairfax County School Board voted to reorganize the public school system and establish the county’s first intermediate schools. Traditionally, students in grades 1-7 attended elementary schools, and students in grades 8-12 attended high schools. Intermediate schools were created to ease the transition from elementary school to high school, and provide students with a specialized program of study geared to the specific needs of their age group. A pilot program began in the fall of 1958 and proved so successful that Fairfax County Public Schools administrators embarked on an ambitious plan to open eight more intermediate schools during the 1960-61 school year. Early in the intermediate school planning process, it was decided that each school would be named for a famous author or poet. Our school was officially named Edgar Allan Poe Intermediate School by the School Board in May 1959, and Lawrence W. Sawyer was hired as our first principal.
Today, Poe Middle School educates children from grades 6-8, but that was not the case when our school opened in 1960. Originally, Poe Intermediate School educated only 7th and 8th grade students. Enrollment peaked in the mid-1970s at nearly 1,500 students and then steadily declined throughout the 1980s. By 1990, enrollment has fallen to the point where the Fairfax County School Board was considering whether or not to close our school entirely. The decision was made to add 6th graders to our school beginning with the 1991-92 school year. This change was enough to boost our enrollment and keep Poe open. Also in 1991, our school was renamed Poe Middle School. Poe Middle School underwent an extensive renovation from 1995 to 1998. Before the renovation, the original floorplan was two main hallways on the ground floor (then called “front” and “back”) with a middle hallway (called the “connector”) which is now the 7th grade hall. The renovation added the "pods" to each grade-level's hallways. The upstairs hallway existed prior to the renovation.
Did you know that Edgar Allan Poe invented the modern detective story?
Did you know that Poe Middle School is located at one of the highest points of elevation in Fairfax County? This area served as a Union Army campsite during the American Civil War. Poe was built on land that was formerly part of Ravensworth, a large plantation once owned by the Fitzhugh family. In 1796, William Fitzhugh built a mansion which he called Ravensworth in the North Springfield area. William Fitzhugh was a wealthy planter, a delegate to the Continental Congress from Virginia, and a friend of George Washington. The Ravensworth mansion and estate passed down through the Fitzhugh family who maintained ownership into the 20th century. The mansion was destroyed by fire in 1926 and the estate’s farmland was sold to developers in the 1950s.
In the hallway, adjacent to the school nurse's office, hangs a portrait in memoriam of a former Poe student, Todd McKinney. Todd died tragically in October 1970. An eighth grader at the time, Todd was delivering newspapers in Annandale in the predawn darkness when he was mistaken for a car thief and was shot and killed. His death made national headlines.