Our History

In 1971, School Without Walls Senior High School (SWWHS) was established to offer an alternative to conventional instructional programs, in which students could develop “methods of learning outside the traditional classroom.”  Modeled after the successful Parkway Program in the School District of Philadelphia, SWWHS was created to provide a small school environment for students who had difficulty adjusting to the large traditional public high school.

The School Without Walls started with just fifty students, six teachers, and one administrator. Today the staff includes three administrators, 54 faculty and support staff positions. The student body consists of approximately 470 students.

In 1988, SWWHS adopted a Humanities program that provides an interdisciplinary core curriculum.  The humanities approach launches students on a quest to find personal meaning from their studies; it provides the framework for academic rigor by requiring the study of primary sources and their contexts, and by exploring the interrelationships of ideas, events and persons across academic discipline.

While the school has changed somewhat from its original mission, it has maintained its core vision to remain an exemplary model of academic excellence in the District of Columbia Public School System.

The history of utilizing community and international resources to enrich and excel beyond textbook learning has remained a tradition at SWWHS.  The instructional program encourages and emphasizes teaching approaches in which learning activities are carried on throughout the community and internationally.

The District of Columbia Public Schools describes the SWWHS as “…a demanding alternative college preparatory program that seeks to foster independence and creativity.”

The academic program includes Humanities, Science, Math, Social Studies, Advanced Placement and elective courses. Additionally, juniors and seniors have the opportunity to enroll in college level courses at The George Washington University and other local universities.

For more information:

Whats in a Name: History of DC Public and Public Charter Schools