Northwest School

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The Northwest School
1415 Summit Ave
Seattle, Washington
United States
Motto Courtesy and Common Sense
Established 1980
Principal Mike McGill
Grades 6-12
Enrollment 506
Color(s) Maroon and White
Athletics Basketball, Cross-Country, Soccer, Volleyball, Ultimate Frisbee, Track and Field
Mascot The Haüs
Nickname "Northwest"
Affiliations NAIS, PNAIS
Summit School
Seattle - old Summit School 06.jpg
Northwest School in the old Summit building, 2007
Location First Hill, Seattle, Washington
Coordinates 47°36′48″N 122°19′33″W / 47.6134°N 122.3259°W / 47.6134; -122.3259Coordinates: 47°36′48″N 122°19′33″W / 47.6134°N 122.3259°W / 47.6134; -122.3259
Built 1905
Architect James Stephen
NRHP reference # 79002540
Significant dates
Added to NRHP October 4, 1979
Designated SEATL March 19, 1990[1]

The Northwest School (originally The Northwest School of the Arts, Humanities and Environment) is an independent day and boarding school located on Seattle, Washington's First Hill. The school was founded in 1980 and is primarily located in the 1905 Summit School building, an official City of Seattle landmark[2] that was listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 1979.

The school's student body includes approximately 500 day and boarding students, in grades 6-12, some 16% of whom are from outside the United States. The school has attracted international students for decades,[3] and international opportunities for domestic students range from Central America to Ethiopia.[4]


The Northwest School was founded in 1980 by Ellen Taussig, Paul Raymond, and Mark Terry. Michael J. McGill has served as head of school since 2011. He previously served as Upper School Principal of The Park School of Baltimore.

Alongside the historic Summit School building and the school's dormitory for boarding students, modern additions to the Northwest campus were completed in 2006 (expanded photography studio, library, and computer lab) and 2014 (gymnasium, fitness mezzanine, dining room, kitchen, black-box theater and a roof-top sports field).[5]


The school's Humanities program encompasses history, literature and art history in a lecture and discussion format. All high school students take a three-year Humanities core program, one year each of Physical Science, Biology, and Chemistry, and a minimum of three years each of mathematics and a foreign language. Students take two fine art classes each year, and must complete at least one class each of theater, visual art, music, and dance before graduation. Fine Arts classes are taught by recognized practitioners.

The school's seniors undertake one advanced seminar in writing, philosophy or literature, and another in the social studies—such as an introductory law seminar, post-colonial studies, Latin American studies, Asian studies, and women's studies. The social studies seminar requires completion of two senior projects: volunteer activity with a political campaign during the fall and a written thesis during the second half of the year. Seniors simultaneously continue with a full academic course load that includes 2-3 courses from the mathematics, science, or language departments and at least one arts course.

School culture and programs[edit]

Through the school's foundational Environment Program, students are responsible for the day-to-day upkeep of the school. During a short "environment" period three times per week, students undertake campus maintenance and cleaning in teams led by seniors. This program is designed to foster student responsibility for the local environment and community, and to develop leadership among the upper school students. Larger-scale projects are handled by the school's maintenance staff.

The school's most notable annual event is a student-organized Martin Luther King Day community inservice, during which the entire school participates in programming pertaining to historic and ongoing efforts for equal rights, human rights and other issues of social justice. Additional annual festivals include the ArtsFest student arts exposition and the Winterfest celebration of the sciences. A weekly community meeting assembly brings the school together for announcements, discussions and performances.

The school's Outdoor Program provides a range of opportunities for students to experience the natural environment of the Pacific Northwest. Through one-day and week-long trips throughout the year, faculty instruct and supervise students in backpacking, bicycle touring, river rafting, sea kayaking and snow shoeing, as well as building (and occupying) traditional snow shelters. The program is designed to develop lifelong recreational skills and habits, with an emphasis on environmental ethics and personal tenacity.

The school's policy on behavior is described as "courtesy and common sense," which requires all members of the NWS school community to treat each other with mutual respect. When a student commits a severe disciplinary infraction, he or she is deemed to have "initiated the process of withdrawal from the community."

Entrance to Northwest is based on the Independent School Entrance Examination (ISEE), reference letters, and a parental application. Students are not required to write essays to gain admission.


Sports played at Northwest include Soccer, Cross country running,[6] Track and Field, Basketball, Volleyball, Ultimate Frisbee, and Fitness Team. The school's administration also works to facilitate student participation in city, regional and other intramural sports, such as golf, swimming, water polo and crew.

The Northwest School is very competitive in Ultimate Frisbee. The upper school's varsity men have won Western National Championships in 2005, 2006, 2007 and 2011, and Northwest students made up half of the team that captured the Club National Championship in the summers of 2005 and 2007. In fall 2011, the boys' varsity team had a perfect record of 23-0, winning the inaugural Seattle Invite and the Washington State Championship along the way. That year, both the male and female varsity teams won the Western National Championships and the Washington State Championships. Middle school and high school participation combined is over 30% of the student population.

Notably, Maddie Meyers placed first in the WIAA 1A state cross country championships in 2008, 2009, 2010, and 2011, first in the 1600m and 3200m at the state track championships in 2009, 2010, and 2011, and first in the 800m at the state track championships in 2010 and 2011. She also competed in the 2011 IAAF World Youth Championships.[7]

Northwest School State Titles

Boys Ultimate Frisbee- 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013

Girls Ultimate Frisbee- 2006, 2007, 2009, 2011, 2013, 2014

Girls Cross-Country- 2015, 2016

Notable alumni[edit]


  1. ^ "Landmarks A-Z". City of Seattle. Retrieved 2013-03-05. 
  2. ^ Landmarks Alphabetical Listing for S Archived 2011-07-21 at the Wayback Machine., Individual Landmarks, Department of Neighborhoods, City of Seattle. Accessed 28 December 2007.
  3. ^ "Foreign students take high school route to university - University World News". Retrieved 2016-11-25. 
  4. ^ Magazine, Tadias. "The International Leadership Academy of Ethiopia: Q & A with Haddis Tadesse at Tadias Magazine". Retrieved 2016-11-25. 
  5. ^ "The Fifth Quarter — The Northwest School unveils new athletic facility". The Seattle Times. Retrieved 2016-11-25. 
  6. ^ "Northwest School girls cross-country team named best in nation". The Seattle Times. 2016-11-23. Retrieved 2016-11-25. 
  7. ^ "Prep standout Maddie Meyers signs with UW". The Seattle Times. 2012-02-02. Retrieved 2016-11-25. 
  8. ^ "Rockers strengthen ties to school with benefit show"
  9. ^ "Seattle Sister"

External links[edit]