By: Matt Repka, Policy Analyst
Last month, SBOE staff visited the middle school campus of Meridian Public Charter School in the Columbia Heights neighborhood of Northwest Washington, DC. Meridian PCS, which first opened in the 1999-2000 school year, has a total enrollment of roughly 700 students from PK3 to 8th grade.
The school’s mission is “to inspire a passion for learning in our students and to help them build their self-confidence and self-respect through academic achievement.” Last school year, the school was named a winner of Mayor Muriel Bowser and the State Board of Education’s Every Day Counts! Attendance Competition, which recognizes students and schools with exemplary attendance rates.
The middle school as it is currently has just 79 current students enrolled across 7th and 8th grades – the school is limited somewhat by the physical space available in their current location, where they have been located since 2015. The school is currently searching for a larger building and hopes eventually to bring 5th, 6th, 7th, and 8th graders together on the same middle school campus.
The school has an unconventional weekly schedule: each Thursday, students have a half-day and are dismissed at 1:00 PM. While some students choose to remain in academic interventions or afterschool activities, this allows teachers more time to plan lessons, take on professional development activities, and prepare for the week ahead. All students at Meridian have health, PE, and music classes in their schedules, even on Thursdays – while classes are shortened, students still rotate through their schedule normally.
When SBOE stopped by, students were presenting projects as part of the school’s science fair. All students complete a science project as part of the fair. Meridian hopes to eventually expand its middle school campus to 150 students per grade and to establish a formal partnership with a high school as a “destination” school for graduating 8th graders.