Rival Reviews: WIS

Becca Green and Francesca Purificato

Continuing our journey around DC, we toured a private school that is different from the rest: Washington International School (WIS). 

One must drive up a winding hill in order to reach WIS’s secluded campus where were greeted with formal visitor passes in “the Mansion”, in what seemed to be the school’s “foyer”. 

“Sounds pretentious, doesn’t it?” a WIS teacher joked as we discussed the irony of calling the main school building “the Mansion.” 

Immediately we were struck by surprise as we saw that most of the main floor was made up of lounges. Drowning in wooden walls and marble columns, the lounges seemed quintessential to the WIS experience. Having everything from paintings to pianos, the lounges were a gift for the IB students. The area aims to provide a space for students for creative learning. Some lounges are exclusive to upperclassmen, and students take this seriously, including the “IB cafe” which is home to only juniors and seniors.

Instead of AP classes, juniors and seniors are enrolled in the IB program which is infamously rigorous, or so we’ve heard. Unlike JR, all upperclassmen are able to have free periods in order to do their school work. 

While walking through the confusing layout of the main buildings, we felt like outsiders. Both students and staff knew everyone, which is an obvious contrast from Jackson-Reed (unless you’re Coach Boone). 

Not only does the small class size affect the connection between kids, but the intersection between parents does as well. Many students who attend WIS are the children of employees at the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, and diplomats, all of which contribute to paying for the education. Because a lot of students’ parents work together there is a strong sense of familiarity with others in the building. 

In the main building (which we had to go outside to get to) there are classrooms, wooden lockers, individual teacher offices, and an attic devoted to art. Rather than a library, they had a design lab with 3-D printers and extra space for working on projects, with a small bookshelf on one side of the room.

As we walked through the different buildings we noticed that like GDS, there were backpacks strewn about the campus with no owner in sight. 

A large part of the social culture at WIS is the internationality of it all. While students are expected to choose either French or Spanish and focus on it academically, it is not uncommon to hear those languages spoken outside of the classroom. 

WIS’s athletic facilities were the basic gymnasium and field combo, with nothing to write home about. Except the locker area was a self proclaimed hookup spot for students, which gave us a good laugh!

Washington International definitely offers a unique experience, from the IB lounges to an average classroom size of 18 students, WIS may not be for everyone but we must admit it undoubtedly has its perks! •