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  • Zoe Becker

New High School Set to Open This Fall in Northwest D.C.

MacArthur High School will open in the old GDS lower school building this fall. / Credits: Tess Buckley

A long-anticipated new public high school in the Palisades is set to open this fall, DCPS announced in January.

The January announcement said the new school will “help alleviate overcrowding pressures” at Tenleytown’s Jackson-Reed High School, which enrolls over 2,000 students according to publicly available DCPS statistics —

almost 25 percent above the carrying capacity of 1,550 that the agency listed for the building in 2011.

MacArthur High School, whose permanent name has not yet been confirmed, will be located in the former Georgetown Day School lower school campus and will offer guaranteed spots to students at Hardy Middle School.

The school will only host ninth and tenth grade classes during its inaugural year. DCPS will keep class sizes small, aiming to enroll 200 ninth grade students and 50 tenth grade students.

DCPS anticipates that as MacArthur becomes fully enrolled in the coming years, it

will reach a student population (grades 9-12) of around 1,000.

In addition to Hardy Middle School students, any current eighth graders at Alice Deal Middle School or Oyster Adams Bilingual School will receive lottery admission preference. Jackson Reed High School ninth graders will receive preference. MacArthur will also accept out of boundary students via the DCPS lottery system.

Hardy Middle School is about 40 percent white and its students have an average household income of $170,931, the highest of any DCPS middle school, according to

Incoming principal Dr. Harold McCray said that “my main goal is to ensure students receive a high-quality rigorous education while being prepared to be leaders in society.”

Dr. McCray has worked in education for 18 years: 14 in Prince George’s County and four in DCPS. He has leadership experience at both elementary and high school levels and has taught middle school math.

“My hope is that the community will continue to support and uplift the goals and aspirations set by the school,” Dr. McCray said, “which will be heavily focused on developing global leaders in society.”

It is unclear how MacArthur’s opening will impact the Walls student body, if at all. Walls principal Sylvia Isaac said that Walls would conduct its 2023 admissions process as usual.

According to DCPS’s profile of the school, MacArthur “will offer rigorous academics, Career and Technical Education (CTE) pathways, arts programming, and a range of athletic and club options.” The school will offer AP programming in academic and other subject areas and engineering and information technology specialization programs for small groups of students.

“I want MacArthur to be the flagship of what a high school experience should be, known for its academic rigorous instruction,” Dr. McCray said. “My motto is that above average is the standard.”


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