by Mike Conroy
Before the July 26 Montgomery Village Foundation (MVF) Board of Directors meeting, Watkins Mill High School (WMHS) Principal Carol Goddard briefed the Board on recent successes, myths and facts about the school. Goddard’s overall message was that despite the rumored reputation of WMHS, she is proud to lead this school, with its plethora of opportunities and amazing staff and students.
Goddard, now beginning her fourth year as WMHS Principal, noted the school has changed over time, becoming more diverse, but it still maintains a worldly feel—a fitting environment for a school that carries the International Baccalaureate distinction. She said that students enjoy learning from each other about different cultures, and the diversity of their classmates makes for a positive atmosphere.
The school population is steadily growing, and Goddard expects over 1,700 students at WMHS for the 2018-2019 school year. Giving some statistics regarding the makeup of the student body, she said WMHS is a “minority-majority school with nearly 60% of students receiving Free and Reduced Meals (FARMS).”
WMHS offers a number of special education services including Learning and Academic Disabilities; Gifted/Talented Learning Disabled – Twice Exceptional; Autism Resource Services; Learning for Independence; and self-contained and co-taught classes.
Over 21% of students have limited English proficiency (ESOL), with many others working through programs and improving proficiency; Goddard reports that 57.7% of students at WMHS have at one time received or are currently benefitting from ESOL services.
Goddard dispelled some myths about WMHS students, noting that 84% of the Class of 2018 gained acceptance to post-secondary institutions, earning a combined $11.4 million in academic scholarships. These same students logged 57,590 service learning hours, showing their pride and participation in the community around them.
WMHS’ countless athletic organizations and cultural clubs provide students with opportunities for self- discovery, team building and global awareness. WMHS is the first school in the state to offer all three secondary International Baccalaureate programmes. The Diploma, Career and Middle Years programmes offer courses of study in English, World Languages, Social Studies, Science, Mathematics, Arts, Early Childhood Development, Hospitality, Finance, Engineering, Computer Science and Medical Careers, and have sent graduating seniors to college (some with college credits) and into the workforce with vast knowledge and a leg up in chosen fields of study and profession.
The student-run newspaper, The Current, is an award-winning, daily, electronic newspaper that connects students, parents, staff and the community to all that happens at WMHS. You can read it online or sign up for a subscription to the news at https://wmcurrent.com. Additionally, Goddard reported that 21 students in the Class of 2018 earned the Seal of Biliteracy, a new distinction for students who can fluently read, write and speak in two or more foreign languages.
WMHS has a number of community partners that go beyond classroom instruction to offer a wide variety of services. Students and families can find a Health & Wellness Center; sports and homework help through the county RecZone program; monthly family food markets; ACES and CollegeTracks for college entrance support; the Watkins Mill Cluster Project offering support to families in need; a Youth Summer Summit and other school acclimation and afterschool programs through the Trawick Foundation; and a host of athletic and cultural programs.
From Goddard’s description of the services, academic and cultural opportunities and diverse population, WMHS students are exposed to much more than classroom learning in the course of a day. These students operate in a microcosm equipped to handle their everyday needs and prepare them for a successful future as leaders of tomorrow.