Northwestern High School (Hyattsville, Maryland)

Northwestern High School (Hyattsville, Maryland)
Northwestern High School
7000 Adelphi Road
Hyattsville, Maryland, 20782
United States
Coordinates 38°58′29″N 76°57′17″W / 38.974745°N 76.954717°W / 38.974745; -76.954717Coordinates: 38°58′29″N 76°57′17″W / 38.974745°N 76.954717°W / 38.974745; -76.954717
School type Public Comprehensive Secondary School
Established 1951, Replaced: 2000
School district Prince George's County Public Schools
Oversight Maryland State Department of Education
Principal Edgar Batenga (Acting)
Faculty 193+ FTE teachers and staff
Grades 912
Enrollment approx. 2,700 (Fall 2011)
Campus Co-Educational, Suburban
Color(s) Navy Blue and White          
Mascot Wildcats
Accreditation(s) Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools
Newspaper 'The Paw Print'
Yearbook 'The Compass'
Communities served Adelphi, Avondale, Brentwood, Chillum, College Park, Hyattsville, Lewisdale, Mount Rainier, North Brentwood, University Park
Feeder schools Hyattsville Middle School
Nicholas Orem Middle School
Rival Schools DeMatha Catholic High School
High Point High School
Architect SHW Group LLP
Athletic Conference(s) Prince George's Athletic Conference North Division
Northwestern HS Seal.jpg

Northwestern High School (NHS), established in 1951, is a public comprehensive secondary school located in Hyattsville, Maryland in Prince George's County, less than a mile from the internationally known University of Maryland, College Park. It is part of the Prince George's County Public Schools system. Two middle schools (Hyattsville Middle School and Nicholas Orem Middle School) feed into Northwestern, as well as twelve elementary schools, which are part of the Northwestern Cluster of Schools.

Completed in August 2000, at 386,000 sq ft (35,900 m2) and a capacity of 2,700 students,[1] Northwestern is the second largest high school in the state of Maryland when measured by total square footage, and it became the first of the county's current high schools to be replaced with a new facility.

In December 2009, Northwestern was recognized as a Silver Medal School amongst "America's Best High Schools" by U.S. News & World Report.[2] Northwestern is accredited by the Commission on Secondary Schools[3] which is a division of the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools.

Jim Henson, creator of The Muppets, graduated from Northwestern in 1954.[4] On October 5, 2002, during an official building dedication ceremony attended by Jane and Heather Henson, as well as representatives from The Jim Henson Legacy, Inc., Northwestern was given permission to rename the D/E/F-Wing at Northwestern, in honor of the late Jim Henson.[5][6]



About Northwestern

Mr. Edgar Batenga is the new acting principal at Northwestern, as a permanent principal has yet to be selected. Mr. Batenga replaced Mr. Jerome Thomas, who was principal from 2004 until July of 2011. Mr. Thomas succeeded former principal, William T. Ritter, who was formerly the schools Dean of Students, until 2000, when then principal, Kevin M. Maxwell, left the Prince George's County Public Schools system to head Walter Johnson High School,[7] in Montgomery County. He is now the current superintendent of schools in the Anne Arundel County Public Schools system,[7] also in Maryland. William Ritter, himself, was appointed head of the Region 5 District in 2004 (and later, head of the school systems FIRST-Financial Incentive Rewards for Supervisors & Teachers program), where Jerome Thomas—who was a long time vice-principal at Northwestern—took his position. Northwestern houses a branch of the Boys and Girls Club of Greater Washington[8] and operates an Evening High School[9] for the Northern half of the county, as well as a Saturday High School program. Northwestern hosts a very popular Saturday-run "ISP Flea Market" that is sponsored by the school's International Studies Program (ISP). Northwestern is also an official county site for conducting the nationally administered SAT college assessment exams.

Northwestern is home to the county-wide COLOURS Performing Arts Program[10] and, for several years, served as host to the annual county-wide High School Chorus Festival and Band Festival, that showcases school choirs and bands in the PGCPS, who are then adjudicated by renowned music directors from around the country. Northwestern is often used as a secondary site for the Superiors Concert which is the PGCPS festival for choirs who were rated superior during at the lower-level county festival. Northwestern also served as host school for Gateway Music Festival's Washington, DC national choir competition, in 2003, and hosted the 2004 Maryland All-State Band Festival.

Building and facilities

Northwestern Campus (1951-2000)

The original 1951 Northwestern High School building.

Northwestern Senior High School was founded in 1951 as a public secondary school. Northwestern was the consolidation of three schools: Hyattsville High School, Greenbelt High School, and Mount Rainier High School. Beginning in the 1960s, several additions were added to the original school in different stages, including what was called the "new" art wing. By the year 2000, Northwestern consisted of a long "main wing" with three "wings" branching out like fingers attached to it. These wings were referred to as the A-wing, B-wing, and C-wing. The cafeteria was located at the rear of the school on the second floor and attached to the C-wing.

The boys gymnasium, girls auxiliary gymnasium, band, choir, and orchestra rooms, were all located at the rear of the building, as well. The C-wing was accessible to the B-wing by a long suspended enclosed bridge that could only be reached from the second floor. A large field of space was located between wings B & C and was dubbed, "The Senior Courtyard". Originally reserved exclusively for seniors to provide their own special area to converge during their assigned lunch, the Senior Courtyard was eventually opened to the entire student body. Northwestern was one of the few schools to allow students outside during lunch, as most schools didn't have the proper accommodations to allow this. The Justice Memorial Auditorium was another add-on and was part of the A-wing, which was the final addition to the original building. The A-wing was the only section of the old facility that had air conditioning. Northwestern was converted from a grades 10-12 "senior high school" to a grades 9-12 "high school" configuration, in 1981.

The new building

Aerial photograph of the Northwestern High school campus.

By the mid-1990s, Northwestern was beginning to show its age. A plan to replace the structure with a brand new $45 million dollar facility was proposed. Prince George's County Public Schools contracted the SHW Group LLP[11] to design and build the new Northwestern. Construction of the new school began in late summer of 1998, the new facility located directly behind the old building. Students attended classes in the old building while construction of the new facility took place only yards away from the rear of the old school. In fact, the new school was physically connected to the old building at the rear (stage area) of the auditorium. The new building officially opened to students and staff in August 2000, just in time for the new school year, thus becoming the first new high school constructed in Prince George's County since Eleanor Roosevelt High School was completed, back in 1978. While it took two years to construct the new facility, the building was not actually fully completed until midway through the 2001-02 school year. Classes commenced at the new Northwestern before the former facility had been torn down. The large bus lot, which is located directly in front of the new building, and the expansive main parking lot, had yet to be paved prior to the opening of the new building because the old facility stood where these new areas were to be made. In addition, there were a few exterior portions of the new facility which weren't finally constructed to finalize the building, until 2002. Except for the auditorium, which was retained from the old building and completely overhauled and transformed into D-Wing of the new school, the old Northwestern was razed while classes were ongoing in the new building. The main parking lot for the new school lies where the former facility once stood.

Northwestern Campus (2000-Present)

Landscape photo of Northwestern High School looking towards the main entrance of the C-Wing, with the B/G-Wing and A-Wing, in the background.
Exterior photo of the B/G Wing.
The 3rd floor "Skywalk" looking towards the C-Wing and D/E/F-Wing.
1st floor main hallway.
Jim Henson tribute display case in the Arts wing.
2nd floor hallway in the E/F Wing.

At 386,000 sq ft (35,900 m2), Northwestern High School has a capacity of 2,700 students[1] with a Fall 2011 enrollment of approximately 2,700 students. Northwestern's largest student enrollment was reached during the 2006-2007 school year, in which over 3,000 students were registered. Northwestern had over twenty portable classrooms, to accommodate the over-enrollment. Northwestern had never had portable trailers until, ironically, after the new facility was built. Even though Northwestern's Fall 2011 enrollment is at capacity, the school currently houses twenty portable classrooms, all of which are located at the rear of the facility spanning one end of the building to the other. The additional classroom space is primarily needed to accommodate the expansive course offerings at the school, although, they also serve for slight control of overcrowding.

Until 2006, Northwestern was officially the largest high school in Maryland[12] when measured by square footage, a distinction that has since been given up to the brand new 434,600 sq ft (40,380 m2). Dr. Henry A. Wise, Jr. High School,[13] located in Southern Prince George's County. However, with Wise having a capacity of 2,600 students and Northwestern having a capacity of 2,700 students, Northwestern is still the largest high school in Prince George's County in terms of building capacity. There was controversy for a time for the distinction of, what was then, the "largest high school in Maryland", between Northwestern and neighboring Montgomery Blair High School in Montgomery County, over which of the two schools was physically larger—in square footage—over the other. Both schools were designed by the same architectural firm, both schools were constructed around the same time (Blair in 1998 and Northwestern in 2000), both schools share a very similar design both internally and externally, and both schools are of similar size. Blair was constructed for 372,000 sq ft (34,600 m2) originally and Northwestern for 386,000 sq ft (35,900 m2). Through certain technicalities, Blair's total square footage was upped to around 386,000 sq ft (35,900 m2). But, it was decided that Northwestern—with the addition of its greenhouse to the second floor of the A-Wing in 2001—retains its slightly larger physical size over Blair, despite Blair having a larger maximum student capacity.

On the exterior, Northwestern's campus features three courtyards,[1] all of which are located between the four wings of the building. The school has a total of five parking lots: the large main parking lot (located in front of the facility and in place of where the former facility once stood) which is designated for staff, students, and visitors; another parking lot adjacent to the main parking lot and located in front of the auditorium, which is reserved for staff and visitors; two smaller parking lots located at the rear of the facility, both of which are reserved for staff or visitors attending athletic events; and a large bus bay capable of accommodating forty-four school buses, which is located directly in front of the facility and also doubles as another parking lot for staff and visitors, during and after the regular school day. The school has six tennis courts located just outside the auditorium to the east of the building and it has several basketball courts located at the rear of the building outside the food court, which have been decommissioned and now serves as an area which houses several of the schools portable classrooms. There are a total of three athletic fields,[1] all located in the rear of the building: the football/soccer stadium which also encompasses the running track which surrounds the football/soccer field; a softball field, and a baseball field.

Northwestern is divided into four distinct "sub-schools" referred to as: the A-Wing, B/G-Wing, C-Wing, and D/E/F-Wing.[1] Each sub-school can house between 600 to 700 students. The original plan for Northwestern, was to physically divide the school into four smaller schools, hence the design theme of the building.[14] Sub-School A was intended to be the "School of Fine, Creative, and Performing Arts"; Sub-School B was to be the "School of Career and Consumer Education"; Sub-School C was to be a general facility that housed mainly elective courses, in addition the schools main offices, security office, and health center; and Sub-School D was to be "The School of Intensive and Specialized Instruction", which would house the schools honors and advanced placement program as well as the schools ESOL (English Speakers of Other Languages) program and Vocational Development (Special Education) program.[14] Students were not to be permitted to interact with students from other sub-schools[14], and students from each sub-school were to be isolated within their sub-school, for the majority of the school day.[14] Due to scheduling conflicts and feasibility issues with this type of sub-school concept, the idea for restrictive sub-schools was dropped before the new building ever opened, while the idea of smaller learning communities was retained and revised to become less restrictive and isolating.

The sub-schools are connected by a large, uniquely architectural main hallway called, The Skywalk, which features a tiered three-story design. A student looking over the third floor Skywalk can see straight down to the first floor main hallway. The building features an artistic, colorful design theme using multiple variations of the colors: blue, purple, teal, gray, and white. The colors were inspired largely by the official school colors which are navy blue and white. The four main academic sections of the building house specialized programs as part of Northwestern's initiative to provide smaller learning environments in which students can specialize in specific areas of study, similar to a college. Across the main hallway from the sub-buildings are other facilities encompassing the H, J, & K-Wings (there is no "I-Wing"), which includes the main gymnasium, auxiliary gymnasium, main cafeteria/food court (H-Wing), NJROTC unit and Child Development wing (K-Wing), and library/media center. The H, J, and K-Wings aren't separate buildings like Wings A-F. Another unique design feature of Northwestern, is its three satellite cafeterias or commissary's, which supplement the main food court. There is a commissary in Wings A, B/G, and D/E/F. These commissary's were generally intended for seniors, only, but students for all grade levels use the facilities. Northwestern features three "lecture halls" with stadium seating which resemble classrooms typically found at large universities. These lecture halls can seat 30-50 students. The auditorium—which comprises the entire portion of the building referred to as the D-Wing—has a maximum capacity of 1,100 spectators. Northwestern also has two high capacity elevators that are restricted for personnel use, only. Northwestern in a technologically advanced school and has over six computer labs, in addition to the media center. Northwestern currently has over 1,100 computers, one of the largest of any high school in Maryland. Each classroom at Northwestern has a bank of at least five computers,[1] all of which have internet access. All of the lavatories at Northwestern feature automatic flush toilets, automatic on/off sinks, and automatic hand dryers. As an energy conservation effort, the lighting in the hallways have an auto-on/off feature, where sensors will automatically shutoff the lights if people movement is not detected within a certain period of time, and conversely will turn-on the lights when people movement is detected.

Athletic facilities

The football/soccer stadium.

Northwestern was planned with enhanced emphasis on athletics. The football and soccer stadium (previously known as the Prince George's County Memorial Stadium) can accommodate the entire student population and features a modern, air-conditioned press box. There are also two softball/baseball fields (one at either side of the football field) and six tennis courts. The new baseball field was dedicated to long time baseball coach, football coach, gym teacher, athletic director and alumnus Martin "Marty" Gallagher. This honor was organized by Coach Gallagher's former athletes from the 60's, 70's and 80's. The gymnasium is currently the second largest gymnasium in Prince George's County; the facility is able to seat over half the school's population. When the bleachers are retracted, the gymnasium is able to provide three full-sized basketball courts for practice and play. It was widely rumored that the new school was to feature, amongst other things, an indoor swimming pool, but it did not come to fruition for various reasons.

Northwestern Health & Wellness Center

The Health & Wellness Center is a joint venture between Northwestern High School and the Prince George's Hospital Center in Cheverly, Maryland. When the original Health & Wellness Center was founded back in the mid-90s in the old building, it was the first of its kind in PGCPS. Two other centers have since been established, more recently, in other area schools.

The Health Center is located across from the Main Administrative Offices (Room C207) and combines the Health and Wellness Center and the Health Suite in one location. The Health and Wellness Center provides basic health, counseling, education and prevention services in support of Northwestern students' academic and social success. Services include physical examinations, tests and treatment for infections and transmittable diseases, immunizations and well-baby care, mental health counseling and health behavior education. All students and infant/toddlers of teen parents enrolled in the Adolescent Teen Parenting Program are eligible to receive confidential primary health care services and treatment. The emphasis is on health promotion, disease prevention and self-care.

Services are provided at no direct charge to students or parents/guardians, except when appropriate to bill enrollees insurance company or medical assistance.

The student body

Northwestern students come from a wide array of ethnic backgrounds. Here, choir members, students, staff, and parents, partake in the choirs' annual Fiesta Latino.


As of Fall 2011, Northwestern High School has an enrollment of approximately 2,700 students, although the school district cites the enrollment—as of September 2010—at approximately 2,458 students.[15] The demographics of the student body (as of 2009) was 96.5% minority, of which 44.2% are African-American/Black including those from African or Caribbean nations; 45.04% Hispanic; 6.8% Asian; and 3.4 Caucasian.[15] Of these students, 1270 are male and 1183 are female.[15] About 400 students are "Limited English Proficient" (LEP) or ESOL[16] and over 200 are in Special Education.[16] More than half of Northwestern’s students qualify for Free and Reduced Meal (FARM) status.[16]

Feeder patterns and admissions


There is no admissions process (i.e. pre-entrance examination) for students to attend Northwestern. Students must live in the designated zoned attendance area for Northwestern. In 8th grade, middle school students who will be attending Northwestern freshman year must complete a pre-registration form which reflects which of the Northwestern academy programs, they will be interested in enrolling in. Certain academies have specific requirements that students need to satisfy in order to apply for that program.

Communities served by Northwestern

Northwestern High School serves students from almost all of the city of Hyattsville and all of the city of Mount Rainier, the towns of Avondale, Brentwood, North Brentwood, and University Park, and the communities of Lewisdale and West Hyattsville. Students from portions of the city of College Park, Langley Park, Landover, Riverdale Park, and some areas considered to be Adelphi, also attend Northwestern. It was not until 1965 that Northwestern received its first multi-cultural students who were bussed in from an adjacent area (Bladensburg).

Northwestern feeder schools

Hyattsville is fed directly by Hyattsville Middle School and Nicholas Orem Middle School, both of which are located in Hyattsville. Elementary schools which feed into Northwestern include Carole Highlands, César Chávez, Chillum, Hyattsville, Lewsidale, Mount Rainier, Rosa L. Parks, Ridgecrest, Riverdale, Thomas S. Stone, and University Park.

Dress code

The E/F-Wing commissary, one of three satellite cafeterias, located in the building.

In 2005, Northwestern was the first high school in Prince George's County to implement a mandatory school uniform policy.[17]


Sub-schools and academy programs

As part of adopting a "smaller learning communities" program of instruction, Northwestern High School offers several specialized programs in addition to the core curriculum mandated by the Prince George's County Public Schools system.[18] A career academy operates as a "school-within-a-school" model, that provides a college preparatory curriculum with a career-related theme. The curriculum organizes instruction in academic subjects around an industry or career theme and enables students to fulfill requirements for college entrance in addition to acquiring work-related knowledge and skill.

All students are provided a core set or curricula and experiences in the ninth and tenth grades. Ninth graders will become a part of the Ninth Grade Academy to provide greater structure and focus with the goal of enhancing basic skills and preparing them for more intensive study after their selection of a career academy by the end of sophomore year. During the eleventh and twelfth grades, students will be exposed to more specific or specialized instruction and participate in various work-based learning experiences. Since all students take a "core foundation" of academic courses, career pathways overlap enough to allow the flexibility to change academies, if interests change or new knowledge and skills are acquired.

Northwestern has identified nine career clusters,[19] which are organized around broad career fields. Of the nine career clusters, Northwestern has implemented four sub-schools.[20] Each wing at Northwestern hosts at least one sub-school and one or more "academy programs". The various programs are:

Choir members practice on the risers in the 250-seat choir room in the F-Wing at Northwestern.
  • The Jim Henson School of Arts, Media, and Communications[20]
  • School of Business Management and Finance[20]
    • Academy of Business Management[19]
    • National Academy of Finance[19]
  • School of Human Resource Services[20]
    • International Studies Program (ISP)[19]
    • NJROTC Academy of Military Science[19]
  • School of Manufacturing, Engineering, and Technology[20]
    • Project Lead the Way Academy of Engineering[19]

Northwestern also features the America's Choice School Design Signature Program, a whole-school program which promotes reading and the language arts.

Academy of Arts, Media & Communications

The Jim Henson School of Arts, Media, and Communications offers academies in three arts disciplines: Arts & Humanities,[19] Performing Arts,[19] and Visual Arts.[19] The school was granted the exclusive rights to use Jim Henson's name, by the family of Mr. Henson.[5] The school is the largest sub-school at Northwestern. Students enrolled in the Jim Henson School, receive extensive instruction in either: vocal music,[19] instrumental music,[19] general music,[19] drama,[19] journalism,[19] dance,[19] fine arts,[19] and television production,[19] or a combination of the arts disciplines. The vocal and instrumental music programs at Northwestern, as well as the Advanced Placement Art program, have collectively received numerous awards throughout the years for their work.[citation needed]

Project Lead the Way Academy of Engineering (PLTW/AOE)

Academy of Engineering logo.jpg

The Project Lead The Way (PLTW) Academy of Engineering (AOE) educates high school students in the principles of engineering,[21] and provides content in the fields of electronics, biotechnology, aerospace, civil engineering, and architecture.[21] The Academy of Engineering is a partnership with Project Lead The Way, Inc. (PLTW) and The STEM Academy.[21] The program is a four-year sequence of courses which, when combined with traditional mathematics and science courses in high school, introduces students to the scope, rigor and discipline of engineering prior to entering college.[22] Students in the Academy of Engineering take specialized courses, specific to the academy, such as: Principles of Engineering;[22] Introduction to Engineering Design;[22] and Digital Electronics.[22] Specialization Courses include: Computer Integrated Manufacturing;[22] Biotechnical Engineering;[22] Civil Engineering and Architecture;[22] Aerospace Engineering;[22] and Capstone Course: Engineering Design and Development.[22]

Academy of Finance (AOF)

NAF logo.jpg

The National Academy of Finance (AOF) is an academy program that connects high school students with the world of financial services, offering a curriculum that covers banking and credit, financial planning, international finance, securities, insurance, accounting, and economics.[23] The AOF is a national program that was established to develop students with the skills and knowledge to succeed in this fast-paced growth area of business.[23]

The NJROTC Academy of Military Science

The Naval Junior Reserve Officers' Training Corps (NJROTC) Academy of Military Science,[24] provides secondary school students the opportunity to become informed, responsible citizens prepared for high school graduation.[24] Program highlight include: a focus on academics including United States military history;[24] exploration of national security issues;[24] the study of meteorology and astronomy;[24] communications and advanced technologies employed by the Armed Services;[24] navigation and survival skills;[24] healthy lifestyles and physical fitness;[24] organizational skills and financial management;[24] career exploration in a wide variety of fields (both military and nonmilitary) and the foundations of responsible leadership.[24] Cadets learn and continue to develop leadership skills and application of military courtesies and customs as they complete each year of their NJROTC programs.[24] The curriculum is structured for success in high school and beyond.[24] Through the demonstration of discipline, honor, self-respect, and commitment cadets gain increasing responsibilities within their programs.[24] NJROTC cadets and units must complete civic action projects and community service.[24] The program also provides field trips to historical military sites and institutions;[24] visits to colleges/universities and military academies to increase awareness and opportunities;[24] and participation on one of the various Drill Teams could include travels to neighboring counties, states, and possibly to competitions held nationwide.[24] The programs provide college scholarships and Military Academy appointment opportunities for qualified cadets.[24] With the completion of specific requirements, several courses within the NJROTC curriculum can earn cadets college credits through the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs.[24] Students who successfully complete a minimum of three years of the NJROTC program and qualify to enter the active duty military service, receive pay/rank increases of two grades above non-NJROTC recruits.[24]

International Studies Academy

The International Studies Academy (also known as The International Studies Program) at Northwestern High School, is an interdisciplinary honors program[25] which affords students the opportunity to choose a curriculum offering a focus in global education and technology.[25] ISP students are also strongly encouraged to participate in international travel.[25] This component of the ISP greatly enhances participating students’ understanding of their world and enriches their ability to interact successfully with a broad range of peoples and regions.[25] Similarly, the experiences offered within ISP reinforce students’ capacity for viewing career paths in technology-related professions,[25] as well as in foreign policy,[25] international affairs[25] and foreign exchange.[25]

General Academics

Northwestern students generally undertake a college preparatory curriculum that follows the graduation requirement guidelines set forth by the state of Maryland,[26] that includes: four years of English; three years of mathematics, science, and social studies (U.S. History, L/S/N Government, and World History are required); one credit in fine arts and Foundations of Technology; and a ½ credit of Personal Fitness (Physical Education) and Health.[26] There are variety of completer electives a student must choose from, as well as a combination of ways they can earn those elective credits. Two credits of a foreign language (both credits must be of the same language) are required, as well as three additional credits is miscellaneous electives.[26] Optionally, a student may elect to complete two credits in Advanced Technology Eduction and three credits in miscellaneous electives.[26] As another option, a student could complete a state-approved technology program and any remaining credits in electives.[26]

Northwestern students can also choose from 20 Advanced Placement courses, with at least one AP course offered in every major humanities discipline.[27]

Northwestern students enrolled in the School of Business Management have a variety of completer courses to choose from. Academy of Finance electives include: Introduction to Financial Services 1/2; Banking & Credit; Business Law; College Accounting; Introduction to Investment & Insurance; Financial Planning; International Finance; Economics & World of Finance; Computer Applications; and Advanced Accounting.[28] Academy of Business Management electives include: Entrepreneurship 1 and Entrepreneurship 2 courses. Other completer courses available to students in both academies include: Principals of Business Administration; Financial Management; and Accounting 1.[28]

Northwestern students enrolled in the PLTW Academy of Engineering can choose from a variety of completer courses such as: Introduction to Engineering Design; Principles of Engineering; Digital Electronics; Civil Engineering & Architecture; and Engineering Design & Development.[28]

There are a host of other academy-specific electives offered at Northwestern such as: Career Research & Development courses; NJROTC courses; Child Growth & Development courses; Television Production courses; and Computer Graphics courses.[28]

Northwestern offers foreign language course offerings in French, Italian, Japanese, and Spanish.[29] Advanced Placement foreign language offerings include AP French Language 5, AP Italian Language and Culture, AP Japanese Language and Culture, AP Spanish Language 5, AP Spanish Literature 6.[29]

Students interested in computer graphics can choose from courses such as Computer Graphics 1, Computer Graphics 2, and AP Computer Graphics.[27]

Northwestern students are required to complete a biology course before graduation.[27] Non-traditional science courses include: Integrating the Sciences; Anatomy & Physiology; Microbiology; Introduction to Environmental Relationships & Problems; Plants & People; Forensic Lab Science 1/2; and Medical Science.[27]

There are a wide array of electives offered in the humanities, which include: African American Studies; African Area Studies; Drama; Economic Issues; Practical Law; Journalism/Yearbook; Psychology; Public Policy Issues; SAT Preparation; Social Studies Research Seminar; and Student Government.[27] Northwestern's award-winning music program offers students twelve performance ensembles ranging from Marching Band and Steel Drum Band to Concert Choir.[27] There are non-performance elective courses offered such as Music Survey, Musicianship and AP Music Theory.[27]

Performing arts

The Northwestern High School Percussion Ensemble at the 2010 Spring Concert.


The Northwestern High School Instrumental Music Program has been rated superior and received first place, as well as grand championship rankings, at local, state, and national levels.


The Concert Choir at their annual Fiesta Latino fundraising concert in the schools' food court.
The Northwestern High School Concert Choir at the 2010 Spring Concert.
The Northwestern High School Gospel Choir.

The vocal music program has become a nationally and internationally recognized program, that consists of four performance ensembles, which include: the Concert Choir (Full Chorus), Advanced Ensemble, Gospel Choir, and a brand new Women's Chorale. The Concert, Advanced, and Gospel Choirs have all received numerous superior ratings at the local and state level, as well as national and international venues.[30] The largest choir has typically been the Concert Choir.[30] Enrollment in this Choir has been as high as 130-members in the past.[30] More recently, enrollment in the Concert Choir ranged from 85 to 110-students.[30] The vocal music program at Northwestern is not considered extra-curricular. All Choirs at Northwestern are offered as credit courses during the academic school day.[31] All Choir members are expected to occasionally participate in special after-school rehearsals, which can meet for as long as two-hours after the normal school day, but more commonly for approximately 80-minutes.[30] Each summer, a special week-long Summer Choir, has been held in early August for all new and returning choir members.[30] This summer choir provides a chance for students to get a head start on repertoire for the upcoming performance season and also allows for new students to become acclimated to the choir and to veteran members of the choir.[30]

The Concert Choir is the beginning to intermediate-level choir and the main vocal performing group at Northwestern.[30] All choristers are members of the ensemble. There is an open-enrollment for the Concert Choir. Enrollment varies, but has ranged from around 85-students to over 130-students, in grades nine through twelve.[30] Students sing many genres of music such as: classical, spiritual, international, secular, sacred, jazz, and show tunes.[30] Level Six repertoire, which is the most challenging level of music on the music rating system, is performed by the Concert Choir.[30] The Choir has performed classical works from Mozart and Schubert to challenging spirituals from William L. Dawson and Moses Hogan. The Choir has been rated Superior from local to international venues. The Advanced Ensemble is a select choir of approximately 50-students in Grades 10-12 and is the premiere touring/performing choir. Members are either hand-selected or auditioned from the main Concert Choir, for participation.[30] The Advanced Ensemble was formed in 1999 as a Chamber Choir, which was an extra-curricular ensemble that met after-school, only.[30] Due to higher participation in the Chamber Choir, over the years, the group was eventually turned into a credit-earning ensemble that now meets during the regular school day, and the groups name was also changed as the group no longer met the criterion for a chamber choir due to its growing enrollment.[30] The Advanced Ensemble meets regularly as a credit-earning course, and is completely separate from the main Concert Choir. The Advanced Ensemble performs music of the same genre, as the main Concert Choir, but the music tends to be more challenging, including more foreign language repertoire.[30] The Advanced Ensemble has also been rated Superior at choral competitions, both at home and abroad.[30] More recently, the Advanced Ensemble placed 1st at the national iSing Music Challenge held at Reid Temple A.M.E. Church in Lanham, Maryland.[32] The Choir was awarded a $5,000 prize. The Gospel Choir comprises most of the members from the Concert Choir. The Gospel Choir is currently taught as an after-school ensemble. The Gospel Choir has performed gospel music works from contemporary gospel greats such as Kirk Franklin, Hezekiah Walker, and Donnie McClurkin. The Gospel Choir consistently ranks Superior at home, as well as nationally and internationally.[30] The brand new Women's Chorale will be a beginning to intermediate-level ensemble for females in Grades 9-12. This ensemble will be the equivalent of the main Concert Choir.

The Choirs participate yearly in nationwide and international choral competitions, consistently bringing home multiple 1st place/Superior honors for eight of the last twelve years.[30] In prior years, the Choirs have placed 1st and received grand championship honors (awarded to the best overall choir regardless of school size or ensemble classification) at competitions in: Chicago, IL (1999); Myrtle Beach, SC (2001); New Orleans, LA (2002); Baltimore, MD (2003); Atlanta, GA (2004); New York City, NY (2005); Williamsburg, VA (2006), and Toronto, Canada (2008). The Concert Choir recently was awarded the highest honors, a "Superior" rating, at the 2011 Festival of Gold invitational in New York City.[30] The entire Choir and several Choir alumni members, have been invited overseas to participate in a prestigious 10-day festival tour of South Africa, in 2013.[33] The Ihlombe! South African Festival will feature some of the world's best choirs and while in South Africa, the Choir will tour the country and perform in-concert in the cities of Pretoria, Soweto and Cape Town, as well as numerous other locations in and around Johannesburg.[34] The Choirs have consistently received superior-ratings at the annual all-county chorus festival, by notable people like Mr. Samuel Bonds and Mrs. Linda Hall, vocal music directors of the world renowned choirs at The Duke Ellington School of the Arts and Baltimore City College, respectively.[30] The choirs have also been eligible to participate in the Maryland All-State Chorus Festival, held at different locations throughout the state each year. The Choirs have been ranked Excellent or higher, at the event.[30]

Outside of festivals and competitions, the Choirs perform extensively throughout the Washington-area, as well as putting on two annual shows for the school and community, a Winter Concert and a Spring Concert.[30] The holiday-themed winter concert, held in December, generally draws larger crowds between the two annual concerts, and the winter concert typically features Christmas-oriented music with some non-holiday themed pieces. The spring concert, held in May, is usually more formal, and features music that has been taken to local and international festivals, as well as other challenging pieces that have been learned during the second semester of the school year. Three other yearly events are sponsored by the choir, two of them being fund raising events: "Fiesta Latino", "Henson Night", and "The Soul Cafe".[30]

The Choirs have been featured on the national television network, NBC;[30] a PBS network broadcast special, Celebrate America with Tim Janis;[30] the University of Maryland television network;[30] and have performed with the Towson State University Choir and the University of Maryland Chamber Singers.[30] The Choirs have performed two world premiers—Many Voices, One World with original poetry by Northwestern students[30] and Undisclosed Locations[30] with Northwestern's award-winning Jazz Band. Both collaboration projects were in conjunction with the University of Maryland School of Music, with songs written exclusively for the Choir by the late composer, Christopher Patton.[30]

Performance-based ensembles
  • Concert Choir
  • Women's Chorale
  • Advanced Ensemble
  • Gospel Choir
  • Concert Band
  • Marching Band
  • Jazz Ensemble
  • Percussion Ensemble
  • Wind Ensemble
  • Flute Choir
  • Full Orchestra
  • String Orchestra
  • String Ensemble
The 1,100-seat renovated auditorium.

Release-time/work study program

Northwestern has three groups of 12th grade students that have an abbreviated class schedule.[18] Most of these students take two classes per day before leaving school. These groups include:

  • Released Time students
  • Marketing Work Study students
  • COE/Government Connection Work Study students.

Released Time students are allowed to leave school prior to the end of the normal school day to pursue a non-credit program of activities approved but not sponsored or supervised by the school.[18] Most of these students leave after their 2nd period class. While released time students have school privileges, such as participation in athletic and other extracurricular activities, they must exit the school building at the conclusion of their normal day and return at the time their scheduled activity begins. The Guidance Counselors discuss the terms of release time with students, and the students and their parents must complete the necessary paperwork for students to be on released time.

Marketing Work Study students are seniors participating in the Marketing Completer program.[18] These students take their scheduled classes and, in most cases, are dismissed from school at the end of 2nd period. All Marketing Work Study students should have a label on the back of their student IDs that identifies them as participants in the Marketing Work Study program. These students are also not to leave school before the conclusion of second period class. While these students have jobs, their work schedules should not conflict with their normal school day.

The Cooperative Office Experience (COE)/Government Connection Work Study students participate in a school sponsored work-based learning experience in partnership with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in Washington, DC.[18] Students must report to their work site by a specified time. Prince George's County school buses transport these students to the Prince George's Plaza Metro Station. COE students can be identified by their student identification and FCC work identification badges.

Advanced Placement program honors

Northwestern High School was cited in The Washington Post for its achievements in its Advanced Placement (AP) program, for 2005. Northwestern was ranked second in the county (out of 24 high schools) for students scoring highest on the nationally administered Advanced Placement Tests,[35] by College Board, the association which governs AP programs and its related courses throughout the country.

In January 2006, the College Board reported that 17.9% of Northwestern's 2005 graduates earned a passing score of 3 or higher[35] (the highest being a 5) which is above the national average of 14.1%.[35] This achievement ranked Northwestern behind only the county's leading high school, Eleanor Roosevelt,[35] which has consistently ranked first in the county due largely in part to its specialized, Science and Technology Center magnet program.[35] This was the first time that Northwestern had achieved this distinction.

Northwestern offers one of the largest AP programs in Prince George's County, offering courses such as AP Calculus, AP Physics, AP U.S. History, AP English Literature, AP Studio Art, and AP Spanish, just to name a few. Northwestern's rating of 17.9% surpasses the national average of 14.1%.[35] Northwestern's closest contender in the county is academically notable, Bowie High School, which received a rating of 13.2%.[35]

Magnet program (former)

In the mid-1990s Northwestern housed the University of Maryland Collaborative Project continuation magnet program for students who were enrolled in the Science, Mathematics, and Technology Magnet Program at Nicholas Orem Middle School. The program allowed the University of Maryland, College Park to share resources with NHS and for students in the program to work interdependently with the University of Maryland's flagship College Park campus, which is only about a mile away from NHS. Due to the court-ordered restructuring of PGCPS magnet programs, several magnets were eliminated in 2003 including Northwestern's and Nicholas Orem's.

Center for the Visual and Performing Arts

In 2003, Northwestern was slated (by former school district superintendent Iris T. Metts) to become a "Center for the Visual and Performing Arts" (VPA) Magnet School[6] in the Fall of 2004, for the northern area of the county. This decision was based largely on (1) the new building and its huge fine/performing arts wing, (2) the tremendous successes of NHS's award-winning choirs, bands, and orchestra, and (3) feeder school Hyattsville Middle becoming a "Creative and Performing Arts" Magnet that same year. This announcement was made during the official naming ceremony for the schools D/E/F Building in honor of Jim Henson.[6] Northwestern would have joined Suitland High School in the Southern part of the county as a VPA Magnet School.

However, the addition of the VPA Magnet at Northwestern has been delayed indefinitely. This delay was partly due to severe budget constraints on the school system. Further, the system under Metts' successor, Dr. Andre J. Hornsby, faced increasing pressure from the state to overhaul the county's hallmark magnet programs, which were created in the 1980s by a court mandate to end racial segregation in Prince George's County schools, since racial segregation was ruled no longer an issue in the now predominantly African-American county.

Since 2004, Northwestern has still been actively pursing having a performing arts magnet program, implemented within the school. This has not been easy, largely due to the high turnover rates of the county's superintendents. Each time a new superintendent is brought into the school system, Northwestern has to essentially "sell its case of the magnet", to the new superintendent.

Extracurricular activities

The May 2002 edition of The Paw Print which is Northwestern's monthly newspaper publication.


Northwestern High School sports teams are called the Wildcats. The Wildcats sports teams compete in the Prince George's Athletic Conference North Division, and are a part of the Maryland Public Secondary Schools Athletic Association (MPSSAA). Northwestern is a class 4A school, which are those in the upper one-fourth of schools in the state by enrollment.

Over the years, Northwestern teams have produced 13 team state championships, and numerous lower level championships. The Wildcats official flag was designed in 1965 via a competition judged by the art department.

State Championships

  • 1956: Boys Basketball
  • 1957: Boys Track & Field
  • 1958: Boys Track & Field
  • 1967: Boys Basketball
  • 1968: Boys Basketball
  • 1973: Boys Cross Country
  • 1973: Boys Soccer
  • 1979: Girls Basketball
  • 1987: Boys Basketball
  • 1987: Girls Indoor Track
  • 1995: Boys Soccer
  • 1999: Boys Track & Field
  • 2004: Boys Basketball
Fall sports[36]
Winter sports[36]
Spring sports[36]

Indicates a sport with both junior varsity and varsity divisions.

The 1999 Compass, Northwestern's annual yearbook.

Clubs & Organizations

Northwestern has as an eclectic array of extracurricular clubs, organizations, and activities for its students to partake in. The follow list is current as of August 2011.[36]

  • Academy of Finance
  • Anime
  • Art Honors Society
  • Band (Select Ensembles)
  • Best Buddies
  • Bio Med
  • Chess Club
  • Choir (Select Ensembles)
  • Drama
  • ESOL Homework
  • Environmental Action*
  • Fashion Club
  • FBLA
  • Forensics
  • International Studies Program (ISP)
  • Mentor Cares
  • Latin Dance
  • Manga
  • Math Club
  • Mock Trial
  • National Honor Society
  • Physical Fitness
  • Poetry Club
  • Student Government Association (SGA)
  • Television Production

Notable alumni


  1. ^ a b c d e f Garcia, German and Bryant, Kevina. "New Northwestern Ready for 2000!". The Paw Print, October 1999. Page 1.
  2. ^ Best High Schools. U.S. News & World Report, 2009.
  3. ^ "Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools". Commission on Secondary Schools. Retrieved 19 January 2011. 
  4. ^ Pressler, Margaret Webb (19 May 2006). "Jim Henson's Muppets Get the Smithsonian Treatment". The Washington Post. Retrieved 19 May 2006. 
  5. ^ a b Jim Henson School of Arts, Media & Communications The Jim Henson Legacy, Inc.
  6. ^ a b c Oliver, Julia. "Northwestern Dedicates Arts Wing to Jim Henson". The Gazette. Retrieved 10 October 2002. 
  7. ^ a b "Superintendent Kevin M. Maxwell". Anne Arundel County Public Schools. Retrieved 19 January 2011. 
  8. ^ The Boys and Girls Club of Greater Washington - Northwestern High School Branch
  9. ^ Northwestern Evening High School
  10. ^ COLOURS Performing Arts Program
  11. ^ SHW Group LLP
  12. ^ Northwestern High School (2001). The 2001 Compass. Page 1.
  13. ^ "Dr. Henry A. Wise, Jr. High School". Grimm + Parker Architects. Retrieved 21 January 2011. 
  14. ^ a b c d Hummer, Alex. "A New Look at School Registration". The Paw Print, December 1999. Page 1.
  15. ^ a b c Northwestern High School Profile & Statistics, Northwestern High School.
  16. ^ a b c School Improvement Plan, Northwestern High School.
  17. ^ Northwestern High School Uniform Policy
  18. ^ a b c d e 2008-2009 Northwestern High School Course Guide. Northwestern Guidance Department. Pages 5-8.
  19. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u "Northwestern High School Career Academy Application 2011-2012". Guidance Department of Northwestern High School. Retrieved 29 August 2011. 
  20. ^ a b c d e "Northwestern High School Course Guide 2011-2012". Guidance Department of Northwestern High School. Retrieved 29 August 2011. 
  21. ^ a b c "Our Themes". The National Academy Foundation. Retrieved 29 August 2011. 
  22. ^ a b c d e f g h i "Pathway To Engineering". Project Lead The Way. Retrieved 29 August 2011. 
  23. ^ a b "Northwestern High School Course Guide 2011-2012". Guidance Department of Northwestern High School. p. 8. Retrieved 29 August 2011. 
  24. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t "Northwestern High School Course Guide 2011-2012". Guidance Department of Northwestern High School. p. 7. Retrieved 29 August 2011. 
  25. ^ a b c d e f g h "International Studies Program". Guidance Department of Northwestern High School. Retrieved 30 August 2011. 
  26. ^ a b c d e "Northwestern High School Course Guide 2011-2012". Guidance Department of Northwestern High School. p. 4. Retrieved 2 September 2011. 
  27. ^ a b c d e f g "Northwestern High School Course Guide 2011-2012". Guidance Department of Northwestern High School. p. 12-42. Retrieved 2 September 2011. 
  28. ^ a b c d "Northwestern High School Course Guide 2011-2012". Guidance Department of Northwestern High School. p. 3-8. Retrieved 2 September 2011. 
  29. ^ a b "Northwestern High School Course Guide 2011-2012". Guidance Department of Northwestern High School. p. 39-42. Retrieved 2 September 2011. 
  30. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z aa ab ac ad "The Choirs" (HTML). The Northwestern High School Choir. Retrieved May 13, 2011. 
  31. ^ "Northwestern High School Course Guide 2011-2012". Guidance Department of Northwestern High School. p. 48. Retrieved 2 September 2011. 
  32. ^ Northwestern Advanced Ensemble Wins at the 2010 iSing Music Challenge, Reid Temple A.M.E. Church.
  33. ^ "Announcements" (HTML). The Northwestern High School Choir. Retrieved August 12, 2011. 
  34. ^ "Northwestern High Choir Invited to Perform in South Africa in 2013" (HTML). The Hyattsville Patch. Retrieved August 12, 2011. 
  35. ^ a b c d e f g Anderson, Nick (19 January 2006). "Northwestern Emerging as Academic Contender". The Washington Post. Retrieved 19 January 2006. 
  36. ^ a b c d "Northwestern High School Clubs & Activities". Northwestern High School. Retrieved 29 August 2011. 
  37. ^ "Remembering Len Bias". The Gazette. Retrieved 15 June 1996. 
  38. ^ "Bias II: There'll Be No More "Wait for Jay"". The Washington Post. Retrieved 5 December 1990. 
  39. ^ William J. Boarman, Public Printer of the United States, U.S. Government Printing Office
  40. ^ "Profile". Leigh Bodden. Retrieved 21 January 2011. 
  41. ^ "Player Profile". New England Patriots. Retrieved 21 January 2011. 
  42. ^ "Harold Fox". Sports Reference, LLC. 2011. Retrieved September 18, 2011. 
  43. ^ "Player Profile". National Basketball Association. Retrieved 30 June 2011. 
  44. ^ "Jeff Green". ESPN. Retrieved 30 June 2011. 
  45. ^ Finch, Christopher (1993). Jim Henson: The Works—The Art, the Magic, the Imagination. New York: Random House. pp. 9. ISBN 0-679-41203-4. 
  46. ^ "Player Profile". Jacksonville Jaguars. Retrieved 21 January 2011. 
  47. ^ "All-decade wrestling team". The Gazette. Retrieved 27 January 2010. 
  48. ^ "Team Roster". Arizona Cardinals. Retrieved 27 January 2010. 
  49. ^ Ball, Stephen (27 April 2009). "Small-School Toler Gets a Big Reward". The Washington Post. Retrieved 27 April 2010. 

External links

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