Woodrow Wilson High School (Washington, DC)

Woodrow Wilson High School (Washington, DC)

Woodrow Wilson Senior High School is a secondary school in Washington, DC. Wilson is located in the Tenleytown neighborhood of D.C., at the intersection of Chesapeake St. and Nebraska Avenue NW. Wilson, which serves grades 9 through 12, is a part of the District of Columbia Public Schools. The school was named for Thomas Woodrow Wilson, who not only was the 28th President of the United States, but was also a highly regarded academic, and still the only President to have earned a Ph.D. Wilson was also once a President of Princeton University.


Woodrow Wilson High School was built on a patch of land acquired in 1930, known by the neighboring Tenleytowners as "French's Woods", for a total cost of $1,250,000. Wilson opened its doors to students on Monday, September 23, 1935, with 640 sophomores and juniors. Many students transferred to Wilson from Central and Western. Western had been running double shifts to accommodate the students from the Wilson neighborhoods. Woodrow Wilson High School graduated 290 students in the new school's first commencement exercises, on June 23, 1937. The class President was Robert Davidson.

The first principal was Norman J.Nelson, who had previously been the Assistant Principal at Western.

Dr. Stephen P. Tarason became the school's 11th principal in January 1999, when he succeeded Dr. Wilma Bonner. 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. Pete Cahall, a former teacher and administrator with the MCPS system, was selected as the new principal.

General information

The school's student body represents 85 countries and the students come from 40 different schools in the city. The school mascot is the Wilson Tiger, its colors are green and white, and its motto is "Haec olim meninissee juvabit", a Latin phrase meaning "In days to come, it will please us to remember this". In context in Virgil's Aeneid, the line was spoken after the characters survived a shipwreck.


The school serves several neighborhoods, including Georgetown, Glover Park, Chevy Chase, and Tenleytown. However, there are many out of boundary students that come from all parts of the District.

The school's demographics are as follows:

*Approximately 1,600 students
*School boundaries encompass everything west of 16th Street, NW, all of southwest Washington north of the Anacostia River, and parts of Capitol Hill southeast
*Nearly 30 percent of the student body live outside the school’s boundaries
*Εthnic mix: 49% African American, 25% Caucasian, 17% Latin American, 9% Asian American
*Nearly 40 percent 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 DCPS and one of the top performers in DCPS overall. About 89 percent of Wilson students continue their education beyond high school, with 77 percentattending four-year or two year colleges or universities. Wilson was the first school in the metropolitan area to adopt and implement a four course a day, alternating even day and odd day, modular schedule. Many Wilson students, including all out-of-bounds students, 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).

In mid-2006, Woodrow Wilson Senior 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.


Woodrow Wilson was one of 11 schools nation-wide 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.


Wilson's Basketball and Baseball teams began their official Interhigh Series competition in the 1936-37 school year, a year earlier than the Football team would join the Interhigh.

The football team played its first (exhibition) game on October 16, 1936, a 12-0 victory vs St. Alban's in a driving rain storm. They were coached that season by Carl Heintel, who also coached the basketball and baseball teams. After its first year of competition in 1936, Wilson football officially joined the Interhigh Series for the 1937 season in the 37-38 school year.

On April 20, 1937, pitcher Kilmer Bortz struck out 16 Central batters leading Wilson to a 8-3 victory at Central Stadium - the school's first ever major sport Interhigh win.

The "Presidents" (as they were frequently called by the newspaper sports writers in the early years) played the first home football game in their new Wilson Stadium on October 6, 1939 (vs Landon), although the official flag raising Stadium dedication took place on October 27 in front of a capacity crowd of 2,000 prior to the kickoff of their 39 Interhigh home opener vs Western.

Wilson's first Interhigh Championship team was its 1942 Basketball squad. Led by All-High tandem Donald Hillock and Fred Vinson, the Tony Kupka coached "Green Tigers" defeated the Red Auerbach coached Roosevelt team in the semifinals 28-24, and then beat Central 46-23 for the title.

Wilson won its first Interhigh football championship in 1949, beating McKinley Tech 21-20. The following weekend, in front of 7949 Griffith Stadium fans, the Tigers, who had outscored their 1949 season opponents 206 to 77, lost to Catholic League Champion Gonzaga in the 2nd Annual City Championship game, 12-7.

The historic Brown v. Board of Education decision came down in May 1954. Five Wilson players - Don McMurray, John Webster, Bob Rogers, Mike Hixson, and Leland Phillips were selected to participate in the first integrated High School football game ever played in Washington DC. On Dec 4, 1954, before a crowd of 8,800 at Griffith Stadium, the integrated Interhigh All Stars ended St Johns' 13 game winning streak, defeating the Johnnies 12-7 to capture the 1954 City Football Championship.

Wilson won its first baseball championship in 1959 with a perfect record of 18-0.

The current baseball team, through their 2008 season (coached by Wilson alumnus Eddie Saah, 1965), has won 16 consecutive DCIAA championships. Wilson baseball has won 208 of its past 209 games against DCIAA opponents. Wilson's last loss came in a 1999 game against Dunbar High School.

Wilson Stadium, opened for duty in 1939, is now used for both soccer and football. It had a brand new artificial turf field installed over the summer of 2007. A sound system, press box, and lights were also added to the stadium.

The Tigers athletic program maintains the only crew team among DC public high schools.

In 2007, Tigers also 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 Arena, the only public ice rink in the District of Columbia.

The Wilson swim team returned for the 2006-2007 season and claimed the city championship in the same year.

The aquatic facility at Wilson High School, first opened in 1978, has been condemned and was demolished in 2007. Planning and design for a new Ward 3 Aquatic Center are underway. The estimated date of completion for the new pool is 2009. [cite news | first=Michael | last=Niebaur | coauthors= | title=D.C. high school pool demolition begins | date=2007-08-20 | publisher= | url =http://www.examiner.com/a-890520~D_C__high_school_pool_demolition_begins.html | work =The Examiner | pages = | accessdate = 2007-10-10 | language = ]

Feeder patterns

The following elementary schools feed into Wilson:
* Adams
* Bancroft
* Eaton
* Hearst
* Hyde
* Janney
* Key
* Lafayette
* Mann
* Murch
* Oyster
* Ross
* Shepherd
* Stevens
* Stoddert
* Thomson

The following middle/junior high schools feed into Wilson:
* Deal
* Francis
* Hardy
* Jefferson

Notable alumni

*Paul Hudson, aka H.R., lead singer, hardcore punk band Bad Brains
*Clarence Greenwood, '86, a.k.a. Citizen Cope, musician
*James Canty, '88, guitarist in Ted Leo and the Pharmacists
*Darryl Jenifer, Bassist for hardcore punk band Bad Brains
*Ian MacKaye, '80, musician- Minor Threat, Embrace, Fugazi, and The Evens
*Henry Rollins, musician, poet, media personality
*Roger Mudd, '45, Emmy Award-winning journalist and broadcaster
*David Mays, '86, Publisher of "The Source"
*Tommy Duren, Child entertainer and puppeteer
*Frank Rich, '67, Editorialist, Drama Critic, "New York Times"
*Thomas Finucane, '67, Geriatrics Professor, Johns Hopkins
*Council Nedd II, '86, American Anglican Bishop
*Soma Golden Behr, '57, Managing Editor, "New York Times"
*Adrian Fenty, Mayor of Washington, DC
*Aquil Abdullah, '91, Rower, men's double sculls, 2004 Olympics
*Warren Buffett, '47, Billionaire investor, CEO of Berkshire Hathaway
*Doris Buffett, '45, Founder of The Sunshine Lady Foundation
*Paul Miller, '88, aka DJ Spooky, musician
*Ryan Moore, '91, 5 time Jeopardy Winner
*Lew Luce, '55, NFL Football; 3 time All Met in basketball
*Mike Sommer, '53, George Washington University and NFL Football
*Ron Watts, '61, Wake Forest University and NBA Basketball
*Derek McGinty, '77, Weekday co-anchor for 9NEWS NOW
*Andre "Whiteboy" Johnson, musician, leader of Rare Essence
*Gilbert Gude, '41, 5 term US House of Representatives, Maryland.
*John Warner, '45, 5 term U.S. Senator, Virginia; Navy Secretary.
*Jorma Kaukonen, '59, musician, Jefferson Airplane/ Hot Tuna; Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, 1996.
*Jack Casady, '62, musician, Jefferson Airplane/ Hot Tuna; Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, 1996.
*Ann Beattie, '65, American short story writer and novelist
*Alfred Liggins, '83, Radio One, President and CEO
*Leo Speros, '50, University of Maryland Football
*John Hechinger, Sr., '37, Philanthropist; Chairman of Hechinger Co.
*John Derrick, '57, PEPCO Chairman of the Board
*George Grizzard, '45, Stage, screen and television actor
*James Sinclair, '65, Music Director of Orchestra New England; Charles Ives scholar
*Lon Herzbrun, '53, University of Tennessee football; Sugar Bowl 1956. Gator Bowl 1957
*Dick Drummond, '59, George Washington University] football; 3 time All Southern Conference; Radiologist, Sibley Hospital
*Malaya Rivera-Drew, '95, TV actress, "The L Word"; "ER"; "Entourage"
*Barbara Holland, '50, Writer
*Charles Fleischer, '68, Film & TV actor, voice of Roger Rabbit
*Kwame R. Brown, '89, DC City Council
*Yvette M. Alexander, '79, DC City Council
*Harry L. Thomas, Jr., '78, DC City Council
*Robert A. Wise, '63, Professor of Medicine, Johns Hopkins University
*Jerald Brown, '98, Pro Football
*Emmanuel Burris, Pro Baseball
*Zelda Diamond Fichandler, '41, Co-Founder of The Arena Stage; Director of New York University Acting Program
*Joel Smilow, '50, President & CEO Playtex Products, Inc
*Bert Sugar, '53, Boxing writer; Boxing Hall of Fame 2005
*Michael Starr Hopkins, Actor
*Les Whitten, '45, Author, newspaper columnist
*F.Harvey Whitten, '48, Author, editor of the Houghton Line
*Cliff Stearns, '59 Congressman, 8th District of Florida, 9 terms

External links

* [http://www.wilsonhs.org/web/ The school's website]
* [http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2005/12/28/AR2005122800541.html A Washington Post article featuring Wilson]
* [http://www.wilsonpooldc.org/ Website for the new pool.]


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