Wilson is the worst school––except all the others

Graphic+by+Max+Wix
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Wilson is the worst school––except all the others

Graphic by Max Wix

Graphic by Max Wix

Graphic by Max Wix

Graphic by Max Wix

Jamie Stewart-Aday

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Over the past three years, I’ve often been asked if I’d recommend Wilson to a prospective freshman. This question makes me think. I think about the struggle I go through managing my schedule at the beginning of every year. I think about the general dysfunction that plagues our halls. And I think about the frustration that has often characterized my time in school. But then I think about all Wilson has to offer, as well as the shortcomings of other DC area schools, and I realize there’s nowhere I’d rather be.

Sure, Wilson has its share of issues. Resources are often scarce, counselors are forced to handle over 200 students each, students rarely get all of the classes they want, teachers don’t have paper, and the list goes on. Outside of the classroom, Wilson fails to create a defined culture, with school spirit lacking and sporting events sparsely attended. But compared to the rest DC has to offer, there’s nowhere better.

Wilson is best compared to other DC area public schools. Not only does Wilson have one of the highest DCPS STAR ratings (4/5 stars), but it offers an experience that can’t be found anywhere else. This is due in large part to our diverse student body. Wilson is the most racially diverse school in DCPS, with no one race making up more than 34 percent of the student body. With this racial diversity comes distinct experiences, and Wilson is home to students from all different backgrounds and across the city.

Although Wilson’s self-segregation mitigates some of these advantages, our students are still forced to walk the halls and share classrooms with people who don’t look like them, don’t live where they do, and don’t hold the same beliefs they hold. This forces us to leave the building as more well-rounded thinkers with a fuller view of the world around us. 

All of this makes Wilson a unique experience from the rest of DCPS. Not only does it provide greater resources and opportunities than most other schools, but it forces each student to interact with people who aren’t like them each day. DC is a bubble no matter how you slice it, but Wilson pops that bubble ever so slightly.

These academic advantages combined with top tier athletic programs and a grounded, if still ill-defined and imperfect, school culture, make Wilson an oasis among DC area schools. Surrounded by public schools with limited academic resources and private schools with a preppy and toxic culture, Wilson is truly one of a kind.

The clearest advantage Wilson has over private schools is that it’s free to attend. To offer even a comparable education for up to $100,000 less over four years makes Wilson a clearly better option financially for most students.

Attending a DC area private school often means paying tens of thousands of dollars per year and putting up with entitled classmates every day only to receive an education that is at best only slightly better than what Wilson offers.

Beyond the economic advantage, Wilson offers a culture that cannot be matched by private alternatives. DC area private schools are often quite homogeneous and elitist. 

These traits are in stark contrast to the vibrant and varied student body that walks the halls of Wilson. 

Also on Wilson’s side is that colleges tend to look fondly on students coming from big public schools, trusting that our breadth of experience prepares us for our futures as much as any fancy institution.

This advantage can often offset the academic advantage of attending a prestigious private school, all while saving Wilson students tens of thousands of dollars per year and avoiding toxic student culture.

I’ve spent three years at Wilson and have often felt frustrated by its inadequacies. And this feeling has been shared by teachers and classmates alike. But when I take a step back, I realize there’s no place I’d rather be.