School News

Alexandria City High School’s New Minnie Howard Campus Shines During Public Unveiling

The ribbon-cutting ceremony at the new Minnie Howard Campus on May 29, 2024 (Photo: Les Machado)

ALEXANDRIA, VA-Alexandrians got their first opportunity on May 29 to see the new $190 million Alexandria City High School – Minnie Howard Campus during a ribbon-cutting ceremony attended by multiple public and school officials and streamed on YouTube Live.

“This new campus redefines the high school experience for future generations of Alexandrians,” said Alexandria City Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Melanie Kay-Wyatt. Dr. Michelle Rief, Alexandria City School Board Chair, echoed that the campus “creates a new vision for how best to serve high school students, engage our young people today, and prepare them for tomorrow.”

In September 2019, the Alexandria City School Board learned that the high school, which could then support approximately 3800 students, might need to support as many as 5000 students by 2025. Instead of constructing a second high school, the School Board elected to expand Alexandria City High School into a Connected High School Network and building on the Minnie Howard Campus. “We know with one high school, we will be able to ensure all students have access and are fully engaged in a high quality learning environment,” Dr. Gregory C. Hutchings, Jr., Superintendent of Schools, was quoted as saying at the time.

Construction at the West Braddock Road building began in April 2022. On Wednesday, visitors marveled at the new five-story, 343,000-square-foot campus that increased capacity from 850 to 1,600 students. Instead of educating only ninth graders, its design supports the newly introduced Alexandria City High School Academies at Alexandria City model, allowing students to engage in small learning communities and foster life, college, and career readiness.

Dr. Melanie Kay-Wyatt, Superintendent of Schools, gives remarks. (Photo: Les Machado)

The model consists of six academic academies for the 2024-25 school year: (1) a science, technology, engineering and math academy; (2) a business and government academy; (3) the education, liberal arts and human services academy; (4) the visual, performing and applied arts academy; (5) a global studies academy; and (6) a general studies academy.

Design and Architecture
Designed to inspire and facilitate creativity, the new building includes state-of-the-art classrooms, a wrestling room, a main and auxiliary gymnasium, dedicated spaces for career and technical education, multiple collaborative common areas, and a greenhouse. New athletic fields will include a practice field, multi-purpose field, tennis and pickleball courts, and basketball and futsal courts

Innovation and Sustainability
In keeping with the City of Alexandria’s Green Building Policy, the new Minnie Howard Campus features electric vehicle charging stations; infrastructure for a future photovoltaic solar array, a geothermal well field that provides highly efficient heating and cooling; walls, windows, and a roof that were designed to minimize yearly energy loss; and efficient water fixtures to help reduce water use. It was designed to achieve Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design Gold certification, indicative of a project’s comprehensive adoption of best sustainability practices, and designed to be Net Zero Energy, a concept of reducing greenhouse gas emissions from resource consumption to as close to zero as possible.

Community Engagement
Beyond its role as an educational institution, the new building will serve as a hub for community engagement and enrichment. In partnership with the City of Alexandria, the facility offers early childhood education, a teen wellness facility, student and family resource centers, and an aquatic facility with a regulation-length pool. These collocated spaces are all accessible to the community and operated by Alexandria’s Department of Community and Human Services and the Department of Recreation, Parks and Cultural Activities. “It is a generational investment in our community” said Alexandria City Mayor Justin Wilson during Wednesday’s ribbon-cutting ceremony. “Generations of kids will come into this building and find the world.”

Minnie Howard
According to the City of Alexandria website, Minnie Howard (1869-1950) devoted much of her life to the welfare of children. As she raised seven children to adulthood, Howard founded a children’s home. She was also the founder and president of the City’s first Parent Teacher Association, president of the Alexandria playground association, and helped establish Alexandria’s first public playground at the Washington Street school.

The original Minnie Howard building was built in 1954 to accommodate students from grades one to seven. It closed in the early 1980s due to declining enrollment before reopening as a satellite ninth-grade campus for Alexandria City High School in 1993. The new Minnie Howard campus will officially welcome students and staff on August 19, 2024, for the first day of the 2024-25 school year.

ICYMI: ACT for Alexandria Celebrates 20 Years

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Back to top button