Minnie Howard to Merge With T.C. Williams

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Alexandrias 9th grade students may have felt like T.C. Williams Titans all along, even though, technically, they were not. This will change February 2.

That is when the Minnie Howard School, the citys 9th grade center, officially becomes a campus of T.C. Williams High School, making all of its students full-fledged Titans in the process.

The change, proposed by ACPS Superintendent Morton Sherman, became official Monday night following a unanimous vote by the School Board and takes effect with the start of the second semester.

Thereafter, Minnie Howard will be known as T.C. Williams High School, Minnie Howard Campus.

The merger, though neatly timed, is meant to impact course and program scheduling for the next school year, not the current one, and should require no additional funding, Sherman said.

This would help us actually be more efficient and might save money. Rather than replicating courses at Minnie Howard and at the high school, we might be able to have kids who are in small sections here and send them to the high school instead, Sherman said.

In 1993, the city established Minnie Howard as the 9th grade school the T.C. Williams campus was for grades 10-12 only as the place where students matriculating through the citys middle schools would meet before heading onto the high school.

Some administrative reorganization will accompany the change, with some officials changing titles and even buildings.

Most notably, T.C. Williams Principal William Clendaniel becomes principal for both campuses and Minnie Howard Principal Grace Taylor moves to T.C. Williams as principal on special assignment. Taylors new post puts her in charge of several alternative programs for grades 9-12.

In the past, the two schools shared some ties but were not tied directly to one another.

Sherman compared one way that the two schools were tied before,
through athletics, to the way that the two schools will operate in the future, with regards to academics and other extracurricular programs.

Previously, gifted athletes were allowed to move up beyond the freshman programs to the junior varsity or varsity programs of T.C. Williams.

[Athletics] is a good example of what the rest of the school should look like with academic programs and all the other activities that we offer, Sherman said. Minnie Howard has been this nice, secluded, supportive environment over here without strong connections and this should make that even better.

In a letter to the students families from both schools, Sherman wrote that the change will provide continuity and consistency for students as they progress, in addition to creating a more unified 9-12 secondary program that enhances teaching and learning for all students.

The perceived benefits of the merger inclusion in extracurricular activities and a more extensive, advanced set of course offerings were apparent to Minnie Howard students who, the day after the vote, seemed to be happy with the change.

Lucas Lemma, a 9th grade student, is looking forward to the prospect of being better informed about after-school happenings.

I think its a good idea, Lemma said, because we never really know when extracurricular activities are happening, so if it becomes one system it would be really great for us because then wed probably be more likely to know.

Lemma said that, had the change occurred before the current school year, he potentially would have joined more after-school clubs or enrolled in more advanced classes.

Another Minnie Howard student, Rosemary Plaze, agreed that it is a positive change, but lamented the fact that it is only taking place now. She said she would have been able to take several more advanced classes, including foreign language.

I was supposed to take French III this year, but its not offered at Minnie Howard, and so now if anyone like me wanted to take it they would be able to do so and not end up behind in French, Plaze said, before adding, I pretty much felt like a Titan before.

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