Wednesday, October 4, 2023
The school may have ceased to exist in 1985 but the spirit of the Fort Hunt High School Federals is alive and well as hundreds of alumni turned out for the 60th reunion with a special guest appearance by NBC Today Show anchor Hoda Kotb, a 1982 graduate of the school.
“Walking back into this building is wild,” said Kotb of the reunion held at what is now Carl Sandburg Middle School. “It brings back the same feeling you had back in the day. It all comes washing back.”
Kotb was the featured speaker at the event, which served as a reunion for all FHHS classes. She enthusiastically led the audience in cheers of “Fort Hunt Lives.”
“I have a million fond memories of Fort Hunt,” Kotb said. “I feel like I was the school cheerleader even though I didn’t have a uniform -- that was my jam and it still kind of is. I am so excited to see what people have become, what they’re up to, what they’re doing.”
Fort Hunt High School was a public high school from 1963 until 1985, when it was converted to what is now Carl Sandburg Middle School.
In 1985, Fort Hunt was combined with Groveton High School to form West Potomac High School, located on Groveton's campus. The Fort Hunt campus was converted into Carl Sandburg Middle School, which replaced the older Stephen Foster and Bryant Intermediate Schools.
The event was organized by the Fort Hunt High School Alumni Association, which organizes several alumni events and grants annual scholarships to graduating seniors of West Potomac High School.
“Can you believe our little school?” Kotb said. “Everywhere we go we are looking for each other. We went to a fantastic school. We went to a school that won district championships, regional championships, state championships. We have people who graduated from here that are NFL players. We have Pulitzer Prize winners who graduated from here.”
Rocky Belk, Class of ’79, played in the NFL and Rick Atkinson, Class of ’70, and Carolyn Cole, Class of ’79, are Pulitzer Prize recipients.
Kotb humorously described driving throughout the southeastern U.S., naming all the TV stations where she was rejected before finally beginning her broadcast career in Greenville, Miss.
“You don’t have to be the best, you have to be the one who doesn’t quit,” Kotb said. “And that kind of defined my whole career. I wasn’t the best. I wasn’t the smartest. I wasn’t any of those things. My secret was I refused to quit.”
The audience included both student and teacher alumni. Also attending the event were Kotb’s family members, including her sister Hala Kotb, daughter Hope Kotb, niece Hannah Kotb, and brother Adel Kotb.
“Fort Hunt was a very special place,” Kotb said. “It’s been great being back.”