Federal Way Public Academy

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Federal Way Public Academy
Federal Way Public Academy Logo.jpg
34620 9th Ave S.
Federal Way, Washington, United States
Type University-preparatory school
Motto Sapere Aude
(Dare to be Wise)
Established 1999
School district Federal Way School District
Principal Kurt Lauer
Grades 6–10
Enrollment 300 students
Campus Suburban
Color(s)      Crimson
Mascot Tiger

Federal Way Public Academy (FWPA /ˈfwɑːpʌ/) is a co-educational college preparatory school for day students in grades 6-10. The school is located in Federal Way, Washington, 24.6 miles from Seattle, Washington. The school was founded by Dr. Ray Griffin in 1999 with the district leadership of Tom Vander Ark (the Federal Way Public Schools superintendent at the time) and assistant superintendent Carla Jackson. The school was approved by the Federal Way school board to open in 1998 by a 3-2 vote. The school opened in September 1999 with 120 students in grades 7 and 8. At the time the school was located in the Illahee Middle School parking lot in 3 double portables (6 classrooms). The school was highly controversial and was viewed by many as an attempt to circumvent the inability to have a charter school in the state of Washington.[citation needed]

The Federal Way Public Academy has at times obtained perfect WASL scores and have among the highest achievement scores in the state.[1][2]

FWPA alumni have gone on to attend Ivy League Schools such as Yale University and Harvard. Alumni currently hold positions in the education, science, legal, financial services, arts, and medical fields.


Federal Way Public Academy was founded in 1999 by Dr. Ray Griffin, at the time an administrator at the Annie Wright School. The school had open enrollment from the very beginning. Students from most of the elementary and middle schools in the district applied and joined the first 120 students.

The school opened its doors September 1999 to a founding class of 90 students in grade 7 & 30 students in grade 8. [3] The original school was housed in portable buildings on the campus of Illahee Middle School . The school crest was originally designed by parent and graphic designer Steve Potter. The crest was approved by the parent site leadership committee. The crest includes two tigers (the school mascot), the symbolic tree of knowledge, and the lamp of learning immersed in crimson, the official school color.[4]

In addition to the 4 core courses, math, science, social studies and English/Language Arts, students also attended computer education and foreign language courses. As a public school, funds are not adequate to support more than a handful of teachers, thus limiting the number of courses offered beyond the core courses. The first graduation from the school occurred in June, 2001, for approximately 30 9th graders.

Extra-curricular activities[edit]

Front of the school

Activities currently offered by FWPA include:

  • Chess
  • Math Team
  • Walking Club
  • Knowledge Bowl
  • Journalism
  • Music
  • Drama
  • Cross-Country
  • Golf Team
  • Fine Arts
  • Venture Crew (9th and 10th grades)

Changes and present day operations[edit]

None of the original teaching staff currently remain at the school. In 2010, of the 190 students that submitted applications for enrollment only 62 students were chosen by lottery for the available sixth grade placements. The school now is housed on its own campus and boasts 300 full-time students. During the 2009 - 2010 school year, 20% of students had cumulative GPAs over 3.67.[5]


There have been some criticisms of the staff. One is that the staff shows too much favoritism. The students that aren't in the positive eyes of some of the staff are not supported [6] Another criticism is that the staff doesn't enforce rules in a fair way in regards to students If a student doesn't do what the teacher likes, he/she gets bigger punishment than a counterpart "good" student doing the same actions Another criticism is of a teacher (name disclosed) who talks to much about his/her personal life in class. The same teacher also has been the subject of many complaints in regards to his/her constant wasting of time by screaming and talking of personal life. He/she has also been touted as bipolar


Coordinates: 47°17′29″N 122°19′20″W / 47.29139°N 122.32222°W / 47.29139; -122.32222