Woodrow Wilson High School (Washington, D.C.)
|This article needs additional citations for verification. (January 2014)|
|Woodrow Wilson High School|
|3950 Chesapeake Street, Northwest
Washington, DC, 20016
|School type||Public high school|
|School district||District of Columbia Public Schools|
|Faculty||102.0 (on FTE basis) (2010-2011)|
|Grades||9 to 12|
|Student to teacher ratio||14.88 |
|Campus size||6 acres (2.4 ha)|
Woodrow Wilson High School is a secondary school in Washington, D.C.. It serves grades 9 through 12, as part of the District of Columbia Public Schools. The school is located in the Tenleytown neighborhood, at the intersection of Chesapeake Street and Nebraska Avenue NW. It primarily serves students in Ward 3, although nearly 30% of the student body live outside the school’s boundaries.
The school building, built in 1935 and extensively renovated in 2010–2011, was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2010. The school was named for Woodrow Wilson, the 28th president of the United States, who was not only a highly regarded academic but the only president to have earned a PhD. The school's motto, "Haec olim meminisse juvabit," is a Latin phrase from Virgil's Aeneid; after a storm, Aeneas tells his men that "In days to come, it will please us to remember this."
- 1 History
- 2 Demographics
- 3 Curriculum
- 4 Extracurricular activities
- 5 Awards and recognition
- 6 Notable alumni
- 7 References
- 8 External links
Woodrow Wilson High School was built on a patch of land acquired in 1930, known by the neighboring Tenleytowners as "French's Woods." In March 1934, the D.C. commissioners awarded the contract to build Wilson to the lowest bidder, McCloskey and Co of Philadelphia. It was built for a total cost of $1,250,000.
Wilson opened its doors to students on Monday, September 23, 1935, thus becoming the sixth DC Interhigh school. The school started with 640 sophomores and juniors. Many students transferred to Wilson from Central and Western. Western had been running double shifts (9 am – 5 pm) to accommodate the students from the Wilson neighborhoods. The first principal was Norman J. Nelson, who had previously been the assistant principal at Western.
Woodrow Wilson High School graduated its first students in February 1937. Chester Moye was class president from the February graduation class. The new school held its first spring commencement exercises, on June 23, 1937, for 290 students. The class president was Robert Davidson.
Dr. Stephen P. Tarason became the school's 11th principal in January 1999, when he succeeded Dr. Wilma Bonner. Dr. Bonner spent a brief time working at the DCPS office before moving on to a position at the Howard University School of Education.
In mid-2006, Woodrow Wilson High School was proposed to be a charter school, but the superintendent asked the school to hold off in exchange for being granted control over certain areas of autonomy especially facilities.
Upon Dr. Tarason's departure to become a middle school principal in Hagerstown, Maryland, Mrs. Jacqueline Williams became interim principal in 2007. In 2008, Mr. Peter Cahall, a former teacher and administrator with the MCPS system, was selected as the new principal. In 2013, Mr. Cahall received national attention for coming out as gay. Mr. Cahall was notified in December 2014 that his contract would not be renewed due to concerns about test scores.  
The school building was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2010.
Woodrow Wilson was one of eleven schools nationwide selected by the College Board for inclusion in the EXCELerator School Improvement Model program beginning the 2006–2007 school year. The project was funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
The historic building underwent extensive renovations during the 2010–2011 school year, including certification to the LEED Gold standard. For the 2010–2011 school year, the students of Wilson were placed in a temporary space at the University of the District of Columbia. The renovated school reopened in October 2011, and festivities included a 75th anniversary celebration.
Wilson primarily serves students in Ward 3. School boundaries encompass everything west of 16th Street, NW; all of southwest Washington north of the Anacostia River; and parts of Capitol Hill southeast. Neighborhoods include Adams Morgan, Georgetown, Glover Park, Chevy Chase, and Tenleytown. The following elementary schools feed into Wilson:
- Bancroft Elementary School
- Eaton Elementary School
- Hearst Elementary School
- Hyde-Addison Elementary School
- Janney Elementary School
- Key Elementary School
- Lafayette Elementary School
- Mann Elementary School
- Murch Elementary School
- Oyster-Adams Bilingual School
- Shepherd Elementary School
- Stoddert Elementary School
- Deal Middle School
- Hardy Middle School
- Oyster-Adams Bilingual School
However, nearly 30% of the student body live outside the school’s boundaries. Those students come from all parts of the District. In all, students come to Wilson from 40 different schools in the city.
The school's student body is ethnically mixed: 49% African American, 25% Caucasian, 17% Latin American, and 9% Asian American. Overall, 85 countries are represented.
Nearly 40% of the students receive free and reduced lunch benefits.
Woodrow Wilson High School is the top performer in the non-magnet High School system in the District of Columbia Public Schools system and one of the top performers in DCPS overall. Students are required to complete 24 credits for graduation, including courses in Art, English, Health and Physical Education, Mathematics through Algebra II, Music, Science, Social Studies, and World Languages. Many Wilson students enroll in advanced courses; in the 2012-2013 school year, Wilson had a 50% rate of scoring 3-5 in Advanced Placement courses
Grade point average at Wilson has been steadily rising, and students now exceed school goals. In the first semester of the 2013-2014 school year, 48% of students were named to the Honor Roll by earning a grade point average of 3.0 or better. 78% of students earned a GPA of at least 2.0. Out-of-boundary students must maintain minimum GPAs in order to remain at the school: 2.5 for students in an academy and 2.0 for students not in an academy. 78% of students earned a GPA of at least 2.0.
Many Wilson students, about 55% of the student body in the 2013-2014 school year, are members of "academies" that seek to tailor a student's curriculum to his or her academic and/or professional interests. These include the Finance Academy, HAM (Humanities, Arts, and Media), WISP (Wilson International Studies Program), and SciMaTech (Science, Math, and Technology).
About 89% of Wilson graduates continue their education beyond high school, with 77% attending two-year or four-year colleges or universities.
Athletics begin at Wilson
During its first school year in 1935–36, Wilson was not eligible to play in the Inter-High School Athletic Association. The newly formed basketball and baseball teams played an exhibition-only schedule the first year, and there was no football team. The basketball and baseball teams began their official Inter-High Series competition in the 1936–'37 school year. The football team played an exhibition season in 1936-37 and then officially joined the Inter-High Series, a year later, in the fall of 1937.
Coach Carl Heintel coached the Wilson baseball, basketball, and football teams.
Wilson was frequently called "the Presidents" by newspaper sports writers in the early years.
On April 20, 1937, the Wilson baseball team scored an 8–3 victory at Central Stadium in the school's first-ever major sport Inter-High win. Wilson pitching ace Kilmer Bortz, with his "befuddling drop" pitch, struck out sixteen Central High School batters. In the spring of 1937, two baseball players were honored as Wilson's first ever All High selections in a major sport: 1B Bill Hawksworth for batting .500 and "whose play around the base was a thing of beauty," and strikeout phenom Bortz. Bortz would later become a highly decorated World War II Navy aviator in the Pacific, including being awarded two Navy Cross medals for his actions during the Battle of Leyte Gulf.
Wilson finished the 1959 season with a perfect record of 18–0 and won their first Inter-High baseball championship. Sherman Rees coached the team. In the final game of the season, the Tigers defeated Coolidge 8–1 at Griffith Stadium; lefty Sam Swindells (8–0) pitched, and SS Marty Gorewitz batted 4 for 4. Swindells would go on to be named the Daily News 1960 Baseball Player of the Year.
The 1962 Tigers, now coached by Bill Richardson, played their way back to the Inter-High Championship game. Wilson curveball ace Kent Feddeman's extra inning 4-hit victory over Anacostia earned Wilson the right to play for another championship. Three days later, they defeated a strong Phelps team 1–0 in extra innings at Georgetown University. Feddeman pitched again, defeating Phelps pitcher Ed Cook despite Cook's 2-hitter. Key to the victory was the solid defense of Wilson SS Pete Swindells.
By 2008, the Tigers had won sixteen consecutive DCIAA baseball championships. At the end of that school year, Coach and AD Eddie Saah retired from coaching with seventeen years at the helm of the Wilson baseball program. Former Assistant Coach Eddie Smith was named as the new baseball coach.
Through their 2011 season, the Wilson baseball program won nineteen consecutive DCIAA championships. Even more remarkable, Wilson's last DCIAA loss was in 1999, in a game against Dunbar High School.
Wilson's basketball teams played an exhibition-only schedule in Wilson's first year, 1935-36. Their first official Inter-High Series games took place in the 1936–37 school year. In the next year of competition – the 1937–38 season – Charles Findley was named Wilson's first All High for basketball. (This selection followed two Wilson baseball players in spring of 1937 and a football player in fall of 1937.)
Wilson's first Inter-High Championship win was in basketball, in 1942. The squad was coached by Tony Kupka and led by Donald Hillock and Fred Vinson, both of whom were named to the All High team. In the semifinals, Wilson won 28–24 over the Roosevelt team under coach Red Auerbach. The "Green Tigers" then decisively won the Inter-High title by beating Central, 46–23.
Wilson won back-to-back Inter-High championship titles in 1953 and 1954. In 1952-53, the top scorer was Lon Herzbrun. In one game against McKinley Tech, Herzbrun scored 41 points – breaking the Inter-High single game scoring record. Herzbrun also broke the Inter-High single season scoring record, and this win ended Tech's run of 30 consecutive victories. That same year, Tennessee bound Herzbrun was named to the first team All Met football team and the first team All Met basketball team, the only Wilson athlete ever to earn that double honor. In Wilson's 1953-54 basketball year, sophomore Lew Luce led the team in scoring; he broke Herzbrun's Inter-High single season scoring record on the final day of the 1954 regular season. Luce went on to be named three times to the All Met basketball team.
Wilson's inaugural football team, coached by Carl Heintel, played its first (exhibition season) game on October 16, 1936, a 12–0 victory vs St. Albans in a driving rain storm. The team went 3–2 in a non-Inter-High exhibition season in 1936. The stars of the squad were RB Dave Tate (who scored Wilson's first-ever touchdown), RB Nick Cokinos, and E Johnny Stevens.
Wilson football officially joined the Inter-High Series for the 1937 season. For his play on the gridiron in the fall of 1937, E Johnny Stevens was named as Wilson's first All High player for football. (Two baseball players had been named that spring for Wilson's first-ever entries into the All High selections.)
The new Wilson Stadium opened during the football season of 1939. The "Presidents," as they were frequently called by the newspaper sports writers in the early years, played their first home football game in Wilson Stadium on October 6, 1939, against Landon. The official flag-raising dedication took place on October 27 in front of a capacity crowd of 2,000 prior to the kickoff of the 1939 Inter-High home opener vs Western.
In the 1949 season, the Tigers football squad, under Coach Joe Carlo, outscored opponents by 206 to 77. They went on to win their first Inter-High Championship by beating McKinley Tech by a score of 21 to 20, made possible by three extra points from placekicker Dick Sebastian. The next weekend, the Tigers played in the Second Annual City Championship game against Catholic League champions Gonzaga in front of 7,949 fans in Griffith Stadium; the Tigers lost the game with a final score of 12–7. Stars of that team were B Lee Brinson, E Pete Haley, C Preston Kavanaugh, T Don Meaney, and B Leo Speros.
Three seasons later, in 1952, Wilson went unbeaten under the direction of Coach Joe Carlo. The team won its second Inter-High Football Championship in front of 7,000 fans. Although the Western Red Raiders were considered the underdog, they scored a 13–0 lead before the Wilson offense took control and won the game, 41–16. RB Mike Sommer, who had won the Inter-High Track Sprint Champion and been named as All Met Running Back, ran for more than 150 yards (140 m) and scored five touchdowns. The Wilson team continued on to win its only City Championship in football: on December 5, 1952, Wilson beat Catholic League champion St. John's with a score of 24–6 before a crowd of 12,000 in Griffith Stadium. The Tigers' defense dominated the second half of the championship game, denying St. John's any first downs or even access past midfield. Stars of the Wilson performance in that game, and also All Met players, were T Max Carpenter, B Lon Herzbrun, B Mike Sommer, and G Chico Stone.
Wilson players participated in the first integrated high school football game ever played in the District, after the historic Brown v. Board of Education decision came down in May, 1954. On December 4, 1954, five Wilson players – Don McMurray, John Webster, Bob Rogers, Mike Hixson, and Leland Phillips – played on a mixed black and white team before a crowd of 8,800 at Griffith Stadium. The integrated Inter-High All Stars beat St. John's, 12–7, to end the St. John's thirteen-game winning streak and capture the 1954 City Football Championship.
The Tigers athletic program maintains the only crew team among DC public high schools.
In 2007, Wilson became the first public high school in Washington, DC, to play varsity ice hockey, with a team in the Maryland Scholastic Hockey League's Capitol Conference. The team plays its home games at Fort Dupont Ice Arena, the only public ice rink in the District of Columbia.
The Wilson varsity softball won the DCIAA championship for the three consecutive years in 2007, 2008, and 2009. In 2009 the team, led by seniors Kathleen McLain and Rachel Bitting, played Georgetown Visitation in the Congressional Bank Softball Classic in which the softball champion of the DC public schools played the champion of the DC private schools. Wilson won the game, 3–2; McLain struck out eight batters without allowing any walks, and Bitting hit a walk-off double in the bottom of the last inning.
In the 2008–2009 school year, Wilson started a squash team.
The Wilson swim team returned for the 2006–2007 season and claimed the city championship in the same year.
Wilson's wrestling program has been intermittent. In 2005, Wilson ended its wrestling program, becoming the last public school in Washington DC to have a wrestling team. However, in 2012, the program was restarted.
Wilson Stadium opened for duty in 1939. An artificial turf field was installed over the summer of 2007. A sound system, press box, and lights were also added to the stadium. The stadium is now used for several sports, including soccer, football, and lacrosse.
There has been an aquatic facility on the Wilson High School campus since the late 1970s. It first opened in 1978, but was condemned and demolished in 2007. A new Aquatic Center for Ward 3 was completed in 2009, with an indoor 50-meter swimming pool, a children's pool, and other facilities.
Wilson's school newspaper is called The Beacon. Students also publish an annual literary magazine called LAVA.
Awards and recognition
Notable alumni of Woodrow Wilson High School include:
- Robert Altman (1964), attorney and husband of actress Lynda Carter
- John Astin (1948), actor (best known for playing Gomez on The Addams Family) and father of actor Sean Astin
- Ann Beattie (1965), short story writer and novelist
- Philip Benedict (1966), professor of European History
- David Boggs (1968), engineer and co-inventor of Ethernet
- Doris Buffett (1945), philanthropist and sister of investor Warren Buffett
- Warren Buffett (1947), businessman and one of the world's wealthiest people
- Emmanuel Burriss (1903), professional baseball player
- Ruth Burtnick Glick (1960), author under name Rebecca York
- Jack Casady (1962), rock musician most known for Jefferson Airplane
- Ramsey Clark (1946), former United States Attorney General for President Lyndon Johnson and liberal activist
- Jean Craighead George (1937), author of Newbery-winning children's books
- Erik Todd Dellums (1982), television and film actor
- Zelda Diamond Fichandler (1941), theatrical director and producer, co-founder of Arena Stage
- Kenneth Feld (1966), CEO of Feld Entertainment, whose productions include the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus and Disney on Ice
- Adrian Fenty (attended, did not graduate), former mayor of Washington, DC
- Angelo Fields, former professional American football player
- Charles Fleischer (1968), actor and voice talent
- Clarence Greenwood (1986), musician under the name Citizen Cope
- George Grizzard (1945), actor on stage, film, and television
- Gilbert Gude (1941), five-term U.S. Congressman from Maryland and author on environmental issues
- John Hechinger (1937), owner of the Hechinger hardware store chain
- Hugh Newell Jacobsen (1947), award-winning architect
- Jorma Kaukonen (1959), guitarist for Jefferson Airplane and Hot Tuna
- Larry Kramer (1953), playwright, novelist, and gay rights activist
- Romulus Z. Linney (1949), playwright and novelist
- Ian MacKaye (1980), singer for Minor Threat and Fugazi
- David Mays (1986), publisher of The Source magazine
- Robert "Bud" McFarlane (1955), National Security Advisor to President Ronald Reagan
- Derek McGinty (1977), television journalist and news anchor
- Donald McKinnon (1956), former New Zealand Minister of Foreign Affairs and former Secretary-General of the Commonwealth of Nations
- Paul Miller (1988), hip-hop musician under the name DJ Spooky
- Roger Mudd (1945), broadcast journalist and author
- Jeff Nelson (1980), drummer for Minor Threat and The Teen Idles
- Judith Perlman Marin (1955), syndicated columnist "Miss Manners"
- Frank Rich (1967), essayist, op-ed columnist, and writer
- Malaya Rivera Drew (1995), television actress
- Richard Saslaw (1958), politician and Democratic party minority leader of the Virginia Senate
- Walter Spangenberg (1944), Naval officer and test pilot
- Clifford Stearns (1959), eleven-term U.S. Congressman from Florida
- Bert Sugar (1953), sports writer and boxing expert
- Alex Wagner (1995), political journalist and television personality
- John Warner (1945), politician and former U.S. Senator from Virginia
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- Champion, Laurie (2002). Contemporary American Women Fiction Writers: An A-To-Z Guide. Greenwood Publishing Group. p. 28.
- "Jackson Attains Grant Finals; 18 Named Merit Semifinalists" (PDF), The Beacon (Woodrow Wilson High School) 31 (1), October 15, 1965,
Merit semifinalists include seniors Philip Benedict....
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