A small working group formed by DC Public Schools to address overcrowding at Wilson High School is considering among its options to convert Hardy Middle School into a new high school.
This process, described to the community over the weekend by ANC commissioner Kishan Putta, is still very early and could result in a very different final product. But here are some of the ideas on the table:
The city is contemplating purchasing Georgetown Day School’s lower campus on MacArthur Blvd, which the private school no longer needs. If that deal happens, then one option would be for this campus to be converted into a new
high school middle school [ed: there is some talk about adding a high school here, but the DCPS materials only discuss adding a middle school]. This is needed because Wilson High School is overcrowded. A new high school could take all the kids from Hardy, who currently feed up to Wilson.
Under that scenario, Hardy would remain as is.
But another option would be to move Hardy Middle school to the GDS campus and use the old building for the new high school.
There are a million different ramifications of either move, but both seem to be promising ways to address the Wilson problem. If you’d like to learn more, follow this link to the project’s website.
One thing to note, this musical chairs does not seem to also include the future of the old Hardy School building on Foxhall. That building, currently rented by the Lab School, has been discussed as a possible location for a new elementary school to relieve crowding at Key School.
And that brings up a fun aspect to that: what names to use. Hardy Middle School started its life as Hardy Elementary school and was located at the old Hardy School. It was converted to a middle school in 1974. In 1996 it was moved into its current location. Hardy was named after Rose Hardy, a teacher and administrator in DCPS during the early 20th century.
And that location went through its own metamorphosis. It was originally the Gordon Junior High School, which closed in 1978 after enrollment plummeted after desegregation. Interestingly, one of the last gasp efforts to keep the school open was to convert it to a magnet honors high school, in the mold of Duke Ellington High School. But that plan failed to get approved and the school closed right after.
Gordon Junior High School was named after James Holdsworth Gordon. Gordon, a Georgetowner, was a prominent lawyer and member of the school board around the turn of the century. He is buried in Oak Hill Cemetery.
The same year Gordon Junior High closed, the building became host to the Gordon Center, which was focused on English instruction for native Spanish speakers. It changed its name to the Carlos Rosario Adult Education Center in 1992 (Rosario was a Puerto Rican-born educational activist based in DC). The center was closed in 1996 due to budget cuts:
The old Gordon name is still written across the top of the building, so it could be used again, though GM doubts DCPS would go for that. Looking at the school renaming process for Wilson High School, the options being considered are all African American. GM suspects that to the extent the new school is named for a person, it won’t be an old white guy. That said, restoring the Western High School name would be a popular choice.