Aug 28, 2023 - News

D.C. opens its new public high school in the Palisades

Its colors will be navy blue and teal. Photo courtesy DCPS

D.C. Public Schools is opening its first new high school in decades in the Palisades, seeking to ease overcrowding at Jackson-Reed.

Driving the news: Doors opened today at MacArthur High School on the former site of Georgetown Day School with an estimated 200 students enrolled in 9th grade and 50 students in 10th.

  • Principal Harold McCray recently told the City Cast DC podcast that he wants to create a "premier" high school that will prepare students to be "global leaders."

Between the lines: A new high school means building a campus culture and curriculum from the ground up.

  • McCray has been an educator for 18 years. He most recently was principal of Stanton Elementary in Anacostia, and before that he led elementary and high schools in Prince George's County Public Schools.

Details: Differing from other DCPS schools, the curriculum will only have honors courses, pre-AP courses, or AP courses, and "no general education courses," McCray told City Cast, It will offer Spanish, Italian, and Chinese.

  • It will also have a much smaller student body than most DCPS high schools.
  • Extracurriculars include girls volleyball, boys basketball, club soccer, cross country, cheerleading, track, golf, and tennis, according to DCPS.
  • "Unfortunately, we'll not ever be able to offer football just because we don't have a high school regulated field," McCray told City Cast.
  • The community helped pick the school's navy blue and teal colors. Its mascot is the mammoth.

The intrigue: D.C. navigated some messy politics to open MacArthur. There was substantial opposition from neighbors to the campus over increased traffic fears, as we previously reported.

  • Others said the upper Northwest location with minimal bus service and no nearby Metro station was too far removed for many students, raising concerns about inequity.

Zoom in: A majority of the incoming student body is from Ward 3, which reportedly needs at least four new public schools to reduce overcrowding at Jackson-Reed High School.

  • Hardy Middle School now feeds into MacArthur, while Alice Deal Middle School families will have the option to attend.
  • Other out-of-boundary seats are available through the DCPS public school lottery.
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