A 16-year-old Herndon High School student was arrested and charged with malicious wounding in the stabbing of another 16-year-old student at the school yesterday, Fairfax County police said.

The injured youth was taken to Reston Hospital Center with stab wounds on the upper part of his body, a hospital spokeswoman said. He was listed in fair condition.

The stabbing occurred after an argument about 9:35 a.m. in a hallway of the school at 700 Bennett St., police said. Police would not disclose the names of either student, but said both are males and residents of Herndon.

According to several students, the assailant had cursed another student, and the victim thought the swear words were directed at him.

"They just started arguing and they started fighting," said Sara Bell, 17, a senior. She said the attacker drew a small folding knife from his belt. "At first he {the victim} didn't feel it. It was just a simple argument."

Bell said the student accused of the stabbing was new at the school, but that the other youth is "the nicest person. He never got in trouble."

The suspect was charged as a juvenile, police said. He is being held in the county's juvenile detention center. According to county prosecutors, the maximum sentence the youth would face, if convicted, is incarceration in a juvenile facility until his 21st birthday.

According to the county School Board, possession of a weapon on campus is unauthorized and the punishment usually is expulsion. A school spokesman, Gene Sands, said no hard data exist, but that usually a half-dozen students are caught with weapons each year throughout the county. The school system has about 130,000 students.

It also is believed to be the first such incident at Herndon High, built in 1965, Sands said. School was not otherwise interrupted, the spokesman said.