Six hundred and fifty-seven students are enrolled in this year’s freshman class. This is significantly more students than last year’s class of 450. Early enrollment data is often misleading, however, as students from feeder schools are automatically enrolled at Wilson even if they aren’t going to attend. With the entrance of the freshman class, Wilson’s student population is projected at 1,982.
Wilson population is likely to continue increasing in the coming years. ”It looks like Deal’s getting bigger. It looks like Hardy’s also getting bigger, so I would guess it would mean that we are going to continue to expand as well,” said principal Kimberly Martin. Class sizes have grown every year except one since the 2011 renovation, and enrollment at Wilson grew from 1,633 in 2012 to 1,982 today.
The large size of Wilson has been a growing concern in the past few years, ever since the school went over its capacity of 1,750, a number that was raised from the original 1,650 set after the renovation. “What will we do when our demand truly eclipses our capacity? How will we respond?” said Martin.
While a few possibilities are being considered, no plan is yet in action to limit overcrowding. “I wouldn’t say that DCPS or community groups have come up with a solution that everybody agrees with,” said Martin. “Some people say there should be a second high school in Ward Three.“ Martin believes that splitting the ward into two high schools would decrease the number of available student programs such as sports teams and Advanced Placement courses.
Safety is another problem that grows with Wilson’s population. The same halls that clog during the time between periods become just as crowded during a fire drill or other emergency, making it more difficult to exit the building and increasing the potential danger to students during an emergency. Martin, however, believes there is no reason to be worried about student safety. “I don’t think that there is a direct correlation between size and safety.“ There is no legal requirement for rooms intended to hold less than 50 people to have a room capacity, so Wilson is not legally liable for any overcrowding problems.