Woodson in the 1970's
An increasing interest in the world’s ecology in the 1970s brought the celebration of Earth Day to Woodson. Each April, for a number of years, students were released from class to view and participate in varied ecology-oriented activities. However, an Earth Day celebration was not to be the most memorable event of the decade. On April 1, 1973, at about 3:00p.m., a disastrous tornado struck the school and surrounding area. Fortunately, the incident occurred on a Sunday afternoon when there were no students in the building. The tornado caused such extensive damage that, for the remainder of the year, Cavaliers attended classes at Oakton High School. Oakton students attended morning classes and Woodson students used the building in the afternoon. Round-the-clock work crews completed repairs and The W. T. Woodson High School re-opened in the fall of 1973. Woodson, which sits in what is known as "Tornado Alley," was hit again by a twister on September 5, 1979. The building was spared by the Hurricane David-spawned storm, but the stadium was destroyed. Today, students are often reminded of Woodson's tornado history and take their twice-yearly tornado drills quite seriously. Similarly, in the early 70s, Woodson shared the building with Robinson Secondary School for about two weeks during winter. This was because of the “energy crisis.” Woodson students had the early shift, and Robinson students came in around noon to begin their school day. The Bicentennial year in 1976 brought a sense of patriotism to the Woodson community. Throughout the year, various activities highlighted the national celebration. The 1970’s also brought a new championship team to Woodson’s roster, the nationally prominent W. T Woodson Latin Team under the sponsorship of Mrs. Maureen O’Donnell. Mrs. O’Donnell would bring further recognition to Woodson in 1980 when she was selected as Teacher of the Year for the state of Virginia and awarded an honorary doctorate from Yale University.