School History

Sidney Lanier Middle School opened on September 6, 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 Sidney Lanier Intermediate School by the School Board in May 1959, and William D. McKinney was hired as our first principal. In the 1990s, all intermediate schools in Fairfax County were renamed as middle schools.

Our Namesake

Did you know that before becoming a poet Sidney Lanier was a pilot on a blockade runner?

Stories from Lanier

Dr. Mitchell Sutterfield, Lanier Alumnus (1966-68)

I remember all the room we had outside. After the crowded classes, we'd rush out to the two big fields between the school and Kutner Park; the park made the scene even more spacious. I digress to say that P.E. was a lot more fun back then. Boys and girls were separated and thus undistracted by each other; we marched in fancy formations at different paces--"Double-to-the-rear-by-the-right-flank, MARCH!" We wrestled, shot arrows at targets, climbed ropes…