Explore Our New MacArthur Campus
Relocated and Expanded Middle School Opens for the 2017-2018 School Year
Welcome to the home of our Grades 6, 7, and 8 program, the new middle school building at 4590 MacArthur Boulevard, NW. Built to the Day School's specifications, the almost-19,000-square-foot space has become just the setting for teaching and learning that we envisioned for this exceptional program targeted at the particular needs of young adolescent learners. The space allows faculty to continue the innovative instruction that has been the hallmark of St. Patrick's Grades 7 and 8 program for a decade and a half.
A great teacher, and we have plenty of great teachers, can teach anywhere. But a beautiful new space certainly helps! The opening of the new MacArthur Campus represents a transformative moment in the life of our middle school and in the lives of our students and teachers. The students have settled in quickly, bringing life and energy, intellectual engagement, and enthusiasm with them.
St. Patrick’s middle school program is characterized by a tight-knit student community, devoted faculty and staff who have chosen to become experts in early adolescent education, and rigorous academics scaffolded by instruction in non-cognitive skills.
As Dan Spector, Assistant Head of School and Head of the Upper School, said, "Individually and collectively, the teachers know their students. They know their strengths, they know their areas of growth, and they know what is required to get the best from them."
And the teachers at St. Patrick’s are excited about the instructional opportunities designed into the new space. As Upper School learning specialist Kristen Wilkins said, “The classroom layout offers more space and opportunity for students to engage in independent and self-directed learning activities. Various activities can run simultaneously. This means more time for small-group work (student collaboration, a skill students will need in their academic and professional lives) and additional touchpoints with teachers and learning specialists, checkpoints for authentic understanding of the learning targets presented.”
The mix of flexible and more traditional instructional spaces enables St. Patrick’s talented faculty to meet the cognitive and academic needs of students at the same time that it enhances the strong sense of community that has become a characteristic of the current program. “The environment is built specifically for Grades 6, 7, and 8 students,” said Rochelle Hargraves, Assistant Head of School for Finance and Operations, who is deeply involved in the project. “And it is a superb place to learn.
Among the highlights of our students introduction to the new space was a project entitled "My Story, Your Story, Our Story," based on the year's theme, "All Are Welcome." By learning more about each other, they discovered the rich variety in our community as well as our many commonalities. As service continues to play an important role in middle school, the first week included service trips to the Lisner-Louise-Dickson-Hurt Home; THEARC, an arts and education campus; and across the street to the wetlands of Rock Creek Park, where students started documenting the many plants there.
Throughout the year ahead, the program will continue to be shaped by the creativity of the MacArthur Campus students, and teachers, in turn shaped by the possibilities of a larger, more flexible space. Recognizing the newly expanded format, we will continue to identify ways to highlight our first Grade 6 class in our new middle school configuration, including the introduction of a new Shakespeare production in February and a celebration of their pioneer status at the end of the year.
The growing popularity of the Grades 7 and 8 program had outstripped the enrollment cap at the previous MacArthur Campus at 4925 MacArthur Boulevard, NW. The Board of Trustees pursued the new MacArthur Campus plan in response to a strategic planning process concluded in 2016. The Board opted to lease and renovate the space because that approach would allow the Day School to open the expanded middle school more quickly than any other scenario, promptly resolve the enrollment bottleneck from Grade 6 to Grade 7, and enable all students to remain through their Grade 8 graduation.