Walter Johnson High School

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Walter Johnson High School
Established 1956
Type Public Secondary
Principal Mrs. Jennifer Baker
Students 2,168 (2010/2011)
Grades 9–12
Location Bethesda, Maryland, USA
District Montgomery County Public Schools
Campus Suburban
Colors White and Green
Mascot Wildcat, Cow, Banana, Green Man, Apple, Wildreusi
Newspaper The Pitch
Aerial photograph of WJHS (during construction).

Walter Johnson High School (WJHS) is located at 6400 Rock Spring Drive in Bethesda, Maryland. WJHS serves portions of Bethesda, North Bethesda and Rockville, as well as the towns of Garrett Park and Kensington.


Walter Johnson High School was founded in 1956 as part of the Montgomery County Public School system (MCPS). The school is named in honor of the late Washington Senators' baseball pitcher, Walter Johnson, who resided in a Bethesda house which still stands just a few miles away from the school on Old Georgetown Road. After retiring from baseball, Walter Johnson became a county commissioner for Montgomery County.

During the late 1950s and early 1960s, when the outer suburbs of Washington were within five minutes' drive of the Beltway, Walter Johnson was viewed as a "country" or "outer-suburban" school. The school was surrounded by farms and livestock, notably cow herds. Yearbooks indicate that, although at first Walter Johnson's rival high school may have been Richard Montgomery High School in Rockville, Maryland, as early as 1960 a heated rivalry arose between Walter Johnson and Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School in Bethesda, which lasted several decades.

During the 1972/73 academic year, "WJ" experimented with a 90-minute mid-day "activity period" in which no formal classes were held and students were encouraged to occupy themselves voluntarily with extracurricular activities, which could include simply socializing or reading a book, as well as organized extracurricular activities. This unstructured approach to education was intended to encourage creativity and individuality. The activity period was cut back to two days a week in subsequent years, and has since been removed entirely.

Despite numerous renovations, the original building still stands. Additional wings have been added to the school on either end and classrooms have been modernized. A new cafeteria was added to the school in 2003, and a student commons area was added in 2009 as a part of a school-wide renovation which took several years. "The Clock," well-known to students, is still in working order and resides in the front hallway above the two golden plaques of the Wildcat and Spartan.


Enrollment increased from just a few hundred students in 1956 to 1600 students in 1960 and 2,000 students by 2005. During tremendous growth of the D.C. metropolitan area, particularly during the Vietnam Era of the late 1960s and early 1970s, the school's environment changed from countryside to that of a major metropolitan suburb.


Starting in fall of 2007, 13 of WJHS had been placed under construction, replaced by 44 portables (nicknamed the "portable city"). WJHS was completed in 2010, which will include a 'Student Commons' and a public space for all students. The space was completed in the second phase of the process. A new wing houses new ESOL, English and language rooms that are easily accessible from the rest of the ground floor.


When it first opened in 1956, its original mascot was the Spartan. In 1987, the students of neighboring Charles W. Woodward High School merged into WJHS and the Woodward building eventually became the new site of Tilden Middle School in 1991. The students were allowed to vote on the new merged school colors and mascot. The requirement that one school would keep their colors while the other school would keep their mascot. Woodward's "Wild Thing the Wildcat" and WJHS school colors—green and white, won out.

The unofficial mascot of the school is "Mighty Moo", a large brown cow. Early in Walter Johnson's history cows used to roam onto the football fields at various times. As seen in Walter Johnson yearbooks from the 1960s, the Mighty Moo character originated as a painting by an ambitious and very bold WJ student (who shall remain nameless), who painted a cartoon cow on the brick chimney at the back of the school, overlooking the football field, large enough to be clearly visible from cars passing by on Democracy Boulevard. Making lemons into lemonade, Walter Johnson adopted the cow as its unofficial mascot under the name Mighty Moo. Later yearbooks show that, even as the area became urbanized, the cows remained nearby and continued to graze across Rock Spring Drive from the school, pasturing in the shadows of high-rise office buildings through the late 1970s. Even though the cows are now gone, Mighty Moo remains a mascot of Walter Johnson.

The banana is the third, and most under appreciated mascot for the school. The banana is usually represented by a student who runs around pep rallies in a banana suit.


Walter Johnson’s signature program, Advanced Placement Experience, is in its ninth year. The APEX Scholars Program is designed to be a highly competitive four-year course of study. Prospective students apply during their eighth grade year, and are notified of their admission in the early spring prior to their ninth grade year. The application process includes making a list of activities, getting 4 teacher recommendations, and taking an essay test. The program offers a select group of students a comprehensive curriculum combining accelerated honors and intensive advanced placement level coursework.

Walter Johnson has recently added an ACES program, which is similar to the APEX program but focuses on science and math instead of English and history. ACES has no admissions test; participation is simply declared, typically before the end of freshmen year.



The College Board ranked Walter Johnson's AP World History program as the best in the world.[1]

Walter Johnson High School was rated as one of "America's Best High Schools" by Newsweek magazine and was ranked 148 for best public high schools in the nation for 2013.[2]

WJHS's "It's Academic" team won the Washington Area Championship and the mid-Atlantic Super Bowl in 2005 and in 2007. The team has also had several of its members elected to the All-State team, the most successful team at the Panasonic Academic Challenge.

The Walter Johnson Debate Team has been county champion every year since 2003 and was also county champion from 1993 to 2000. The Forensics Team has been county champion every year since 2001 and achieved either 2nd, 3rd or 4th Place in the County League from 1990 to 2000.

The Walter Johnson Science Olympiad team has won the state championship and attended the National Tournament four times.

Spring Musicals[edit]

  • ...
  • 1966 My Fair Lady
  • 1967 Brigadoon
  • 1968 Half a Sixpence
  • ...


All tournaments and finals are conducted by the Maryland Public Secondary Schools Athletic Association (MPSSAA).


  • Division Champions 2011

Cross Country[edit]

  • Maryland Class 3A State Champions (Girls) 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, and 2013 State Champions
  • Maryland Class 4A State Champions (Boys) 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, State Runner-Up 2012


  • WN4 Maryland State Champions 2010, 2012
  • WV4 WMIRA Champions 2010, 2011, 2012
  • WJV4 WMIRA Champions 2011
  • WN8 WMIRA Champions 2011, 2013
  • MN4 WMIRA Champions 2011, 2013
  • Women's top 4's team WMIRA Championships 2011, 2012
  • Men's top 4's team WMIRA Championships 2014
  • WV4 Stotesbury semi-finalists 2010, 2011, 2012
  • WV4 SRAA Nationals semi-finalists 2010, 2011, 2012
  • WV8 SRAA Nationals finalist 2014
  • MV4 SRAA Nationals Petite Finalists 2012, 2013, 2014


  • Division 3 Champions 2013
  • Division 3 Champions 2014


  • Maryland Class B State Champions 1987


  • Maryland Class A State Champions 1978
  • Maryland Class 3A State Champions 2000
  • Maryland Class 4A State Champions 2006, State Runner Up 2011
  • Girls - Montgomery County Champions 1995, 1998

Boys Ice Hockey[edit]

  • Maryland Scholastic Hockey League Public School State Champions 2004/2005


Walter Johnson won the Bi-County Championship (the athletic league formed by the high schools of Montgomery and Prince Georges Counties) during the fall season of 1962. "The Washington Post" ranked the Spartans the number one football team in the DC metropolitan area that year. In the 1970s The Spartans did not do well, but in 1980, they had a successful season with a 6–4 record. This was the last winning season for the team as The Spartans. During the 1998 season the team, then known as the Wildcats, managed to have an 8-game win streak. Ending the season at 8–2, it was the school's best season win total. They ranked 7th in the Metro D.C. area for that year. In 2010, as they ended their season, 6–4, one win away from making the playoffs. They have averaged about 3 points a game since and have not made the playoffs.

Field Hockey[edit]

  • Maryland Class 4A State Champions 1989

1997 European league champions

  • Maryland Class 4A Division Champions 2011
  • Maryland Class 4A Region Champions 2012

Swim & Dive[edit]

  • Maryland 4A Men's State Champions 2012
  • Maryland 4A Men's State Champions 2013

Track and Field[edit]

  • Maryland Class 3A State Champions (Girls) 2003.


  • Maryland State Champions Mixed Doubles 2003, 2004, 2005
  • Maryland State Champions Girls Doubles 2003,2007, 2008, 2009
  • 2006 Division & County Team Champions

Ultimate Frisbee[edit]

  • Undefeated 2011 school year
  • Sam Shulimson—2010 Defender of the Year
  • A. Chinsky—2010 Rookie of the Year
  • Sportsmanship Award


  • 4A/3A South Division Champions 2012
  • 1964 Dual Meet County Champions

Notable Alumni[edit]


  1. ^ "Local Students Win 'Best In The World' Title For Academics". 2006-02-07. Retrieved 2008-05-01. 
  2. ^ "2013 America's Best High Schools". Newsweek. Retrieved 6 September 2014. 
  3. ^ "Jody Olsen". Peace Corps and Africa. University of Wisconsin-Madison. Retrieved 6 September 2014. 

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 39°01′34″N 77°07′48″W / 39.026243°N 77.130000°W / 39.026243; -77.130000