TO THE UNDERSTANDABLE relief of a troubled Fort Hunt High School community in Fairfax County, the school board and neighboring areas have come up with reasonable ways to keep the student body of this school together after a fire set by vandals closed down the building. Though the arrangements necessarily work certain hardships on all affected residents, the result is a tribute to the tolerance of parents, teachers and students in Groveton High School -- which the Fort Hunt students have been attending en masse since the fire -- as well as those of Mount Vernon High, to which the entire Fort Hunt contingent is now scheduled to shift in March if repairs cannot be completed by May 1.
The Fort Hunt fire raised a number of complex questions for the communities of all three affected schools -- starting with what to do immediately about the students displaced by the fire. Rather than split up the Fort Hunt student body, the board transferred everyone to Groveton, where double shifts have been abided ever since. Next came the question of what to do about Fort Hunt High itself, since projections showed a steady decline in the number of students through 1984, from 1,750 students to 1,480. Various parties contended that other high schools could easily absorb Fort Hunt's students.
But the parents of Fort Hunt were quick to rally against closing their school. They termed the school the "fulcrum" of their community; and they objected to school planning based, as one supporter put it, "on the disgusting acts of a couple of vandals." Also affecting the decision to rebuild were financial circumstances -- bond money had been voted previously for renovation at Fort Hunt, and fire-insurance payment was contingent upon the rebuilding of the school. So the decision was to rebuild Fort Hunt, though there has been some question about what the student capacity of the rebuilt school should be.
The reconstruction of Fort Hunt High will preserve a school that has enjoyed an abundance of academic programs and amenities. But the other schools, even before the fire, had substantial unmet educational needs, and they deserve sympathetic consideration from the school board as well as support from the Fort Hunt community.