Charter School of Wilmington

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Charter School of Wilmington
100 N. DuPont Road
Wilmington, Delaware 19807
United States
Coordinates39°45′12″N 75°35′18″W / 39.75328°N 75.58832°W / 39.75328; -75.58832
TypeCharter School
MottoExcellence Community Leadership
School districtRed Clay Consolidated School District[1]
CEEB code080164
PrincipalSamuel Paoli
Number of students970
Campus typeurban
School color(s)          blue & white
AthleticsDelaware Interscholastic Athletic Association
Athletics conferenceBlue Hen Conference
MascotThe Force Calculator or Lightning Bolt
NicknameThe Force
National ranking10[2]
NewspaperThe Force File
AlumniSheel Ganatra, Andrew Gemmell, Parker Wright, Tobias Mazal
Charter School of Wilm-1.JPG

The Charter School of Wilmington is a high school in Wilmington, Delaware, one of the first public/private (self-governed, state funded) charter schools in the United States, opening in 1996. It shares the former Wilmington High School building with Cab Calloway School of the Arts and occupies the third floor and a wing of the second floor of the building. There were 970 students enrolled in the fall for the 2012-2013 school year.[4]


Charter schools in Delaware were authorized by Delaware Code, Title 14, Chapter five, enacted in 1995. The school is operated by a consortium of six companies: AstraZeneca, Verizon, Delmarva Power, DuPont, Hercules Incorporated, and Christiana Care Health System.

The Charter School of Wilmington was chartered by the Red Clay Consolidated School District, and was directly descended from the 'Academy of Mathematics and Science', an earlier (now defunct) math and science magnet school run by the district. The school is a college preparatory program that emphasizes mathematics and science education. The Cab Calloway School of the Arts also occupies the same building (formerly Wilmington High School).

The Charter School of Wilmington is a member of the National Consortium for Specialized Secondary Schools of Mathematics, Science and Technology.

The Charter School of Wilmington placed 10th in Newsweek's Best High Schools in 2014. It was ranked 127th in 2006, 75th in 2007, and 100th in 2008.[5] Furthermore, Charter placed 41st in 2007 and 42nd in 2008 as well as 2009 in U.S. News' America's Best High Schools, earning the Gold Medal.[6]

CSW was selected as a 2013 National Blue Ribbon School by the U.S. Department of Education and a Recognition School by the Delaware Department of Education for exceptional performance in 2013. CSW is also currently ranked #10 on Newsweek’s America’s Top High School’s list (September 2014)and #30 on the Daily Beast’s Top High Schools list (August 2014). In June,2014, CSW's Jefferson Council was honored in Washington, D.C. by the Jefferson Awards as the 2014 National Silver Students in Action recipient for their philanthropic contribution to the community.

Novel approach to education[edit]

Modified Block Scheduling[edit]

Charter uses a modified block system. With three rotating classes and one fixed class of 80 minutes each (a mandatory study hall included) along with an "Activity Period" slot, the schedule allowed elongated class periods and eliminated the need for many lengthy, after-school extracurricular club meetings. Students have eight class periods total, and four classes per day thereby meeting with a class every other day.

Shared classes with Cab Calloway[edit]

Students may elect to take Cab classes focused on visual arts, drama, and the musical arts, UD classes, or any other Charter classes during these periods. Cab Calloway classes are still limited in the fact that time slots must match the two schools' schedules and thus certain courses can only be taken during certain class periods.

Research projects[edit]

During the junior year, all students complete a Science Fair project as a necessary requirement to graduate. The Science Fair requirement used to take place during the sophomore year, but restructuring of the research curriculum to better improve research skills beforehand required pushing back the Science Fair requirement. Starting in the 2010-2011 school year, freshmen are required to take Introduction to Scientific Research (instead of Geosystems, a now defunct class) to prepare them for Science Fair.


General graduation requirements[edit]

Delaware state standards mandate semester-long health education and a full year of physical education, split into semester-long sophomore and junior gym classes. The Introductory to Computer Science class satisfies the Delaware state standard for computer literacy, and three years of history and four years of math, science and English meet the state requirements for the respective subjects. A total of 24.5 credits are needed to graduate.

Advanced Placement[edit]

The school offers many advanced placement classes which allow students to earn college credit while still attending high school. Advanced placement courses include calculus (AB & BC), statistics, biology, chemistry, physics (C), environmental science, computer science (A), English literature, English language, Latin (Vergil), Latin literature, Spanish language, French language, AP U.S. history, U.S. government and politics, world history, psychology, and economics. Many students choose to independently study for other AP exams or elect to take AP courses through the Cab Calloway School of the Arts.[7] Sometimes, academically motivated students prefer to self-study the material covered in an advanced placement class instead of attending the class. For students who choose APs as a part of their formal curriculum, taking the end-of-year national AP examination is required in order to pass the course.

Other Coursework[edit]

While not unique to Charter, there are some course offerings that are not seen at a majority of American high schools:

  • Software Engineering
  • Data Structures
  • Differential Equations
  • Digital Electronics Design
  • Introduction to Engineering, Robotics, and Data
  • Forensics
  • Calculus 3
  • Advertising and Marketing
  • Philosophy
  • Photography
  • Programming and Algorithms
  • Critical and Creative Thinking
  • Research and Publication in Human & Computer Interaction (Students published in international, blind-reviewed conferences.)
  • Nanotechnology
  • Modern Physics
  • Optics
Students look over a UD MATH 243 problem after school.

Special tests[edit]

A challenge test administered to incoming freshmen allows prospective students to move up to Integrated Math III or skip the first year of a foreign language course if they test well. (Additional courses can be bypassed through other exams, such as the AP examinations or a French II final). Phases range from 3-6, with non-academic classes (i.e. Driver Education and Gym) at phase 4, phase 5 being considered as honors, and AP and post-AP classes (Calculus 3 and Differential Equations) designated as phase 6.


The student body is made up of 960 students as of 2007-2008, including 68% of students coming from area public school districts, and 32% of the students coming from Catholic and other private schools. However, the freshman class for the 2012-2013 school year consists nearly entirely of Red Clay Consolidated School District students. For the first time since the school's inception, a lottery with out-of-district siblings and children of the founding companies had to be performed. Additionally, the school had to accept fewer students than before, due to district constraints. 99% of students attend college upon graduation. Individual students have won many state and national awards in mathematics, general science, biology, physics, journalism, French, Spanish, Latin and forensics competitions. In addition, students have also gained recognition in sports and other extracurricular activities.[1]


The student to teacher ratio is 18:1, with an average class size of 24 students.[1]

Members of Charter's faculty were Delaware's English Teacher of the Year in 1997, Conservation Teacher of the Year in 1999, recipients of the Science/Math Excellence in Teaching Award from the Science Alliance in 1999, and Delaware's History Day Teacher of the Year in 2002.[1]

Extra-curricular activities[edit]

Students play cards out front after school.


The clubs at Charter include:



The Charter Charger, named Lightning... Colloquially known as the "Force Horse."

As both Charter School of Wilmington and Cab Calloway School of the Arts share the same building, students from both schools compete on teams representing Charter.


  • Baseball
  • Basketball
  • Crew
  • Cross Country 2008 State Runner-up, 2015 State Runner-up, 2016 State Champions
  • Football
  • Golf 2011 State Runner-up
  • Lacrosse
  • Soccer- held a national ranking of 12th in the 2010 season. State Runners up in 2015.[citation needed]
  • Swimming 2007, 2008, 2011 State Runner-up
  • Tennis
  • Track- Indoor & Outdoor 2010 State Runner-up
  • Volleyball 2005, 2008 State Champions
  • Wrestling 2016 Blue Hen Conference Champions


  • Basketball
  • Cheerleading-2006 State Champions; Runner-up, 2007 State Championships (Small Varsity)
  • Crew
  • Cross Country-2009 State Champions; 2009 County Champions, 2010 State Champions
  • Field Hockey
  • Golf
  • Lacrosse-2014 State Runners-up
  • Soccer- 2005 State Champion
  • Softball
  • Swimming 2006-2007 State Runner-up, 2007–2008, 2008–2009, 2009–2010, 2010-2011 and 2011-2012 State Champions
  • Tennis
  • Track- Indoor & Outdoor
  • Volleyball-2018 State Champion

Club sports[edit]

  • Fencing
  • Rowing
  • Ski
  • Mountain Biking
  • Hot Dogg Eating
  • Kayaking
  • Table Tennis
  • Ultimate Frisbee
  • Basketball (intramural)

Newspaper / Force Media[edit]

The school newspaper, The Force File, is a brand-new digital-first newspaper owned and operated solely by students of Charter, started in the 2016 - 2017 school year. It is part of a larger organization known as Force Media, a group which consists of four Charter clubs: Newspaper Club, Photography Club, Ten Minutes Club (which runs a biweekly morning how at the school, called Ten Minutes) and Charter's chapter of The Association for Computing Machinery (ACM). The content Force Media creates can be found at[10]

Standardized exam achievement[edit]

Test scores at The Charter School of Wilmington are consistently the highest in the state with 100%, 99%, and 100% of Charter students in 11th grade scoring at or above expectations in reading, writing, and mathematics, respectively.[11]

  • Top-scoring Delaware high school in Math Assessments (1998–2010) [1]
  • Top-scoring Delaware high school in Reading Assessments (1998–2010)
  • Top-scoring Delaware high school in Writing Assessments (1999–2010)
  • Top-scoring Delaware high school in Science Assessments (2000–2010)
  • Top-scoring Delaware high school in Social Studies Assessments (2000–2010)
  • Highest average SAT scores in the state (among all public high schools) (2000–2010)

Media Appearances[edit]

The Charter School of Wilmington's founder, Ronald Russo, has been featured on TruTV's The Principal's Office.

Notable alumni[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e Charter School of Wilmington. "Charter School of Wilmington: Quick Fact Sheet". Retrieved 2008-09-13.[permanent dead link]
  2. ^ "Top 10 Schools of 2014". Newsweek. Retrieved 14 July 2015.
  3. ^ "Top 10 Schools of 2014". Newsweek. Retrieved 14 July 2015.
  4. ^ "About Us" (PDF). The Charter School of Wilmington. Retrieved 2013-06-13.[permanent dead link]
  5. ^ "America's Best High Schools 2011". Newsweek. 2011-06-19. Archived from the original on October 26, 2011.
  6. ^ "America's Best High Schools". U.S.News. 2008-12-04. Retrieved 2008-12-07.
  7. ^ Charter School of Wilmington[permanent dead link]
  8. ^ Charter School team wins Envirothon | delawareonline | The News Journal
  9. ^ O'Sullivan, Sean (8 May 2010). "Club Works to Ease Pain of Grieving Moms". The News Journal. Retrieved 2013-06-13.
  10. ^ "Force Media". Force Media. Retrieved March 10, 2017.
  11. ^ "Charter School of Wilmington: Test Scores". GreatSchools Inc.

External links[edit]