Why Watkins Mill is the best-kept secret of the ‘W schools’


Katelyn Burley

Watkins Mill juniors Gabriel Valverde, Fransisco Carbonell, Asnath Balilonoso, Zoey Dodge and Chigozie Amadi.

There are 27 high schools in Montgomery County, but there is only one that we want to attend. These are our top five favorite things about Watkins Mill High School. Because who’s to say we aren’t the kings of the MoCo throne? 

The IB Program

The IB program is more demanding than most high school courses and the rigor of the program prepares students for the workload of college. 

Even if a student were to decide not to go to college, the IB Program provides the skills necessary in any career. IB Career-related programs at WMHS include Academy of Engineering (Project Lead the Way), Academy of Finance, Academy of Hospitality, Medical Careers, Computer Science, and Early Childhood Development. Having had the IB program for 15 years, especially as Watkins Mill becomes a Regional IB School, any student who attends Watkins Mill is ten times more prepared for the “real world.” 

Extracurricular activities

Watkins Mill may just have the most extracurricular activities you will find in a high school. WMHS has inclusive clubs for anything your heart desires: NOVA, ELITES, ASL Club, Key Club, Student Council, LGBTQ+ Club, Math Team, Minority Scholars Program, Model UN, Theater/Drama, and Social Awareness Group. The list literally goes on for pages upon pages. 

Even if none of these incredible clubs interest you, you can create your own club. Watkins Mill has an amazing principal (Hi, Ms. Goddard) and administration team that is willing to work with you. Watkins Mill is all about being inclusive and open to new ideas. Just this year, students founded the Filipino Awareness Club and Watkins Mill will be one of only ten schools to pilot the new LGBTQ+ studies class next year

It truly is a “Mixing Bowl” 

Watkins Mill has great opportunities for a student’s voice to be heard. Tying into extracurricular activities, there are many opportunities to lead at Watkins Mill and make sure your voice is heard. In addition, leadership positions are held by people from all backgrounds. It is representative of the school and the demographics of where this country is going. 

Notable alumni include:

  • Rumana Ahmed, a Harvard College graduate who served in the Oval Office during former President Barack Obama’s administration
  • Ru Xu, author of three graphic novels
  • Former Editor-in-Chief of The Current Sarah Elbeshbishi, who now works as an intern for NBC ‘s Meet the Press
  • Kimberly Cruz, a current student at Stanford Medical School
  • NBA player, Justin Carter
  • Professional lacrosse player for Atlas Lacrosse Club and founder of the Premier Lacrosse League Paul Rabil
  • Mubeen Malik made Forbes 30 Under 30 list by starting an online therapy company
  • Founder of The MoCo Show and MoCoSnow, Alex Tsironis

The support systems in place

Everyone at Watkins Mill is rooting for you to succeed, regardless of how you define success. The staff at Watkins Mill care about you the same way friends do; they want you to be happy and safe. They look out for you and want nothing but the best for you, without coddling you. They make sure you are at the top of your game and help you get through tough times. If you work with them, they will work with you, no matter the scenario.

Here are just a few of the many support programs for students to begin their road to success:

  • College Tracks and ACES are programs created to help students prepare for college. They will help you find the right programs for your career path, prepare for the ACT and SAT, and apply to colleges. 
  • The counseling department is always open to students who need assistance in any way, whether that be academically or personally. Our counselors have seen almost everything and will always be willing to help you through anything you need. 
  • Watkins Mill is one of the few MCPS schools with a full Wellness Center. The Wellness Center helps students and their families reach their full potential with medical care, counseling, positive youth development, and health education experiences. 
  • Our teachers and staff know the curriculum and the best ways to work with students to get the job done. We have amazing teachers in the IB Program, some of whom have been here since the school opened.

These support systems go the extra mile in order to level the playing field and help all students succeed.

WM is NOT cutthroat

Watkins Mill is the kindest and most supportive school you will find. We cannot stress this enough. The students here work hard and play hard together, but it is not a competition. As students in the IB Program, only one hyphenated word describes our lives at the moment: “time-consuming.” Yet, the culture and atmosphere do not equate to competition and rivalry. 

In many cases, the odds are against WM students. Watkins Mill has a high low-income population, as nearly 60 percent of our students qualify for Free and Reduced Meals. And the minority-majority population leads to a lot of negative stereotypes, spread by people who have never walked through the doors of the school. And while we are aware of our disadvantages, instead of giving up, we use them to learn how to better ourselves and the community. We may be the underdogs, but the underdogs are always the ones that surprise you in the end.

Despite our differences, Watkins Mill is a family, supporting each other in all of our victories, game losses, heartbreaks, and all that life brings. And we can’t wait to see what our new IB students bring to the table.

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