by Claire Parker and Maria Brescia-Weiler
Wilson Beacon junior editors
Starting in the 2012-2013 school year, Wilson will not be accepting any out-of-boundary students. This means that only students who live in-boundary or attend any of Wilson’s three feeder schools (Hardy, Deal and Oyster Adams) will be admitted. This is a radical change because a few years ago, as much as 35% of the student body was out-of-boundary.
DCPS didn’t inform the Wilson staff of this until over 400 lottery submissions and 375 academy applications had already been sent in. “This is the biggest number of applications ever and we had to send them all letters saying we weren’t accepting anyone this year,” says Tina Kaneen, Wilson Academic Development Office Administrative Assistant.
According to Matt Frumin, treasurer of the Wilson Management Corporation, “It was all quite predictable. The only thing that was not predicted was how quickly it would happen. In the first year in the new school we’re over capacity. Next year, even without out-of-boundary students, we will be even more over capacity.”
The class of 2016 is already full, with 270 students from Deal, 130 from Hardy and roughly 25 from Oyster-Adams. This puts the student body next year at 1,642 students so far, not including students who will enroll late or transfer from other schools. We have only budgeted for 1,648. Just a few more students will tip us over budget.
Wilson’s new building has attracted more students who previously would not have attended Wilson, and Frumin says “mostly that is a good thing, reflecting the success of the school and the excitement around it.”
According to Cathy Reilly, executive director of the Senior High Alliance of Parents, Principals, and Educators (SHAPPE), “Wilson, Woodson and Eastern are the first neighborhood high schools to be modernized. These three opened new buildings this fall and each saw a jump in enrollment.”
But concerns are being raised about the possible loss of diversity at Wilson. “If the school continues to be full to overflowing, there could be a need to pull the boundaries closer to the school. Over the long term, that could make maintaining the kind of diversity Wilson has enjoyed, and our students have benefited from, more difficult,” says Frumin.
However, according to Alex Wilson, Director of Academic Development, that won’t be much of an issue. “Wilson
will always be one of the most diverse, successful schools in the country,” he says. Our boundaries and feeder schools encompass students of every background and zip code in the city.
Chancellor Henderson has noted that she will be initiating a study of the boundaries and feeder patterns. If you look at the boundaries for Wilson you can see that they cover at least one third of the city; if you take into account the boundaries for Wilson’s feeder schools, it is an even larger percentage.
As Angela Benjamin, SciMaTech Academy Coordinator, put it, “Out-of-boundary students are an asset to Wilson and it will be sad to see them go.”
According to Mr.Wilson, “People need to trust and take chances in schools all over the city. If they organize themselves at any school, they could make it the school they want it to be.” He explained, there are 17 high schools in DC, and it is important that they be given the resources to “improve so that out-of-boundary students don’t feel cheated of an education, and Wilson doesn’t have to have disruptively large class sizes.”
Reilly adds, “The new building and the extensive boundary with attendance rights for all feeder schools are some of the main reasons Wilson is overcrowded. It is certainly to its credit that it is a school of choice for many; if the District invests in the other high schools at the same rate, they too may well see a large jump in enrollment.” Says Mr. Wilson, “Wilson is a victim of its own success.”
Reprinted from the June 5, 2012 issue of the Woodrow Wilson High School Beacon. Wilson’s student newspaper is published nine times a school year, August through June, and can be sent via email to subscribers for a suggested yearly donation of $25.00. For information contact firstname.lastname@example.org.