Renovations at Reston’s Langston Hughes Middle School to be mostly completed by fall

Renovations at Reston’s Langston Hughes Middle School are expected to be mostly complete by the time students return in the fall.

Started in early 2019, the $39 million renovation project will add about 183,566 square feet to the school at 11401 Ridge Heights Road. It has remained mostly on track timing-wise with “substantial completion” tentatively set for this fall, confirms Fairfax County Public School spokesperson Lucy Caldwell.

Final closeout work is expected to be finished by the end of the calendar year.

“The schedule is tentative and while FCPS will hold the contractor to the terms of the contract, there are items such as material and supply shortages which we do not have control over and may impact a schedule,” Caldwell noted in an email to Reston Now.

The renovations and addition are being funded by bond referendums approved by Fairfax County voters in 2015 and 2017.

With school now out for the summer, crews are currently working on renovating the music department, drama department, custodian office, equipment storage, gyms, and locker rooms.

The last 18 months have seen the completion of work on the library, cafeteria and kitchen, bus loop, parking, classroom renovations, and a two-story addition on the left side of the building.

Also added is the “Hall of Nations,” a flexible space intended to serve as an auditorium, a classroom, or a breakout space.

The immense renovation and considerable additions are intended to accommodate about 1,250 students at the middle school, which had 1,011 students enrolled for the 2020-2021 academic eyar.

“The new addition and complete renovation will provide ample natural light, 21st Century technology and a welcoming learning environment for our students,” the school’s website says.

Langston Hughes Middle School opened in November 1980, but construction was still ongoing on some elements, including the kitchen, so students were served cold “Super Sack” lunches of sandwiches and fruit. The official dedication of the school took place six months later in May 1981.

It was named after poet Langston Hughes, continuing a tradition of naming county public schools after poets and authors like Henry Wadsworth Longfellow and Rachel Carson. Although Hughes lived mostly in Harlem, New York, a resurgence of interest in his works at the time resulted in Fairfax County naming a school after him.

Hughes was also the great-nephew of local abolitionist John Langston, who has a number of schools and streets now named after him in Arlington.

Come the fall, students are expected to return to in-person learning five days a week. While most of the renovations will be done by then, final “punch list” items and minor work will likely still need to be completed.

This may include removal of trailers and stabilization of grass and plantings, writes Caldwell. Some of this construction may be performed in the evenings and weekends for safety reasons and to avoid disruptions.

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