Architectural Digest Magazine names John Handley most beautiful public high school in Virginia

Locals said John Handley also serves as a centerpiece for Winchester

WINCHESTER, Va. - In a recent magazine article, a public high school in Winchester was recognized for its good looks.

John Handley High School is receiving some national attention after being named the most beautiful public school in Virginia by Architectural Digest Magazine.

"Absolutely, we have the most beautiful high school in Virginia. I think we have the most beautiful high school in the country," said Principal Mike Dufrene.

The writer of the article said she looked at hundreds of public high schools across the country, methodically going through statewide school rankings making sure she saw as many as possible. She then selected ones that were architecturally significant, typically historic buildings, then narrowed down her selection to one high school per state.

"We're honored to be recognized, but it doesn't surprise me. We do have a beautiful facility. When you go through the article, there are some pretty impressive places, but I think we have the best," said Dufrene.

Local historians said that John Handley High School is named after Judge John Handley, who left $250,000 dollars to Winchester after his death in 1895. The funds were later used build to the high school in 1923. 

"We still honor him and march to his tomb on his birthday," said Dufrene.

Officials said in 2009, a five-year, $72 million renovation of the high school was completed, and there's no doubt the students and staff take pride in their school.

"For the people in this community, there's a lot more to it than what's on the outside; John Handley is beautiful inside," said Dufrene.

Dufrene said the iconic steps are just another feature that makes John Handley High School so special. Students get to take prom and homecoming pictures on them, and it's also where they receive their high school diplomas. 

Locals said John Handley High School also serves as a centerpiece for the City of Winchester.

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