The Challenge

  • In order to continue to provide a high quality education and better prepare each student for the future, Alexandria City Public Schools is doing more than building capacity, we are using this opportunity to rethink the high school experience. 

    Today, T.C. Williams offers 400 courses and has space for approximately 3800 students between its two major campuses, King Street and Minnie Howard - currently, being used as a ninth grade campus. By 2025, ACPS anticipates there will be 5,000 high school students. At the same time, ACPS plans to educate ninth- through twelfth-grade students together. 

    Bottom line: we need additional space to teach students and enhance our course of studies to give  students the skills they need to compete in the 21st century. 

    This capacity issue has given us the first opportunity to rethink the high school experience since 1965 when T.C. Williams was established. Whether we build a second high school or expand T.C. Williams, our goal is to shape Alexandria City Public Schools into a better, more equitable and richer learning environment for thousands of young people. For that reason, it behooves us to know our history, which will afford us an opportunity to refine our approach and learn from our past.

    ACPS is making a concerted effort to avoid repeating mistakes. Tuscaloosa in Alabama, for example, integrated schools in 1979 into one unifying high school that thrived garnering National Merit Scholarships, math-competition victories and sports successes. Faced with the need for learning space in 2000 the school was divided into three. Today, unfortunately, that city is experiencing resegregation.

    This is not to say that building a second or third high school in our city would automatically invite the same fate, but we are saying that cannot happen on our watch. We need to be extremely vigilant. We need to own, that right now, our upper level classrooms are not as diverse as our hallways. It is our role and responsibility to ensure that all students we serve today do not experience inequities, acts of oppression and racism.

    The High School Project endeavors not only to change current practice, but also to discover a way forward that embraces all our students and provides each with the opportunity to become successful. 

    Now, is the time to be bold and courageous.