Samiksha Jaiswal (Editor)

Potomac School (McLean, Virginia)

Updated on
Share on FacebookTweet on TwitterShare on LinkedInShare on Reddit
Type  Independent school
Headmaster  John Kowalik
Grades  K-12
Phone  +1 703-356-4100
Established  1904
Faculty  197
Gender  Coeducational
Mascot  Potomac Panthers
Address  1301 Potomac School Rd, McLean, VA 22101, USA
District  Potomac Elementary School District
Motto  Labor Omnia Vincet; "Labor Conquers All"

The Potomac School is an independent K–12 preparatory school in McLean, Virginia, USA located on one 90-acre (360,000 m2) campus, three miles (5 km) from Washington, D.C. Founded in 1904, the School emphasizes academic, athletic and artistic excellence together with character development and service. The Potomac School has four divisions: Lower School (K–3), Middle School (4–6), Intermediate School (7–8) and Upper School (9–12).



Founded in 1904 at Dupont Circle in Washington, D.C., the Potomac School was located for many years on Potomac School Road, N.W. Since 1951, it has been situated on a 90-acre (360,000 m2) campus in McLean, Virginia.

In October 2004, the school celebrated its centennial. The newly expanded and renovated Upper School was completed in September 2006. This was part of Potomac's Master Plan, which has included a new Performing Arts Center. Potomac's new Lower School was completed in August 2009.

The Potomac School tuition ranges depending on what division the student is enrolled in. Tuition for the 2016-2017 school year is as follows:

  • Kindergarten – Grade 3: $33,450
  • Grades 4-6: $35,925
  • Grades 7-8: $38,350
  • Grades 9-12: $38,550
  • In 2011, a former Potomac student came forward and accused a former Intermediate School teacher and administrator of abusing her when she had been a student in the late 60s. The teacher was arrested by Fairfax County police in November, 2012. He was convicted in October, 2013 of molesting 5 girls and was sentenced to 43 years in prison. The Potomac School initiated an independent investigation into the matter which was completed in June, 2014. The investigation determined that evidence existed to suggest that the teacher had molested as many as 26 girls, and uncovered allegations that 3 other teachers had engaged in inappropriate sexual encounters with students. The report further determined that school officials were aware of the abuse and failed to notify the authorities, nor did they inform the teacher's future employers of his history after he was terminated in 1994 for performance failings. The school announced that it would turn its investigative results over to Fairfax County police and it would institute comprehensive training in abuse prevention, universal background checks on all employees and volunteers, and standardized practices for handling abuse complaints.


    Highlights of SAT scores, National Merit Awards and AP scores:

  • Median SAT scores 2000–2200 average 1480 (math and verbal)
  • 2003–2012, an average of 40% of juniors recognized as semifinalists or commended scholars in the National Merit Scholarship Program
  • 2003–2012, 90% of total AP tests taken received scores of 4 and 5
  • Divisions

  • Lower School (Grades K–3): 3 sections per grade, dress code
  • Middle School (Grades 4–6): 4 sections per grade, uniform
  • Intermediate School (Grades 7–8): average class size 16 students, uniform
  • Upper School (Grades 9–12): average class size 14 students, dress code
  • Facilities

    The 90-acre (360,000 m2) campus includes nature trails, two ponds, multiple outdoor classrooms, athletic fields, tennis courts, two gyms, a wrestling room, four squash courts, eight tennis courts, a fitness center, two playgrounds, the Engelhard Performing Arts Center and the Langstaff Auditorium (named after John Langstaff), a black box theater, eight music rooms, five art studios, a photography lab, a lecture hall, three libraries, eleven science labs, and six dedicated computer labs.

    Potomac has an extensive school bus system. In addition to the standard morning and afternoon buses, the school operates "late bus" routes and a local shuttle system, designed to reduce traffic through the neighborhood and support the school's environmental initiatives.


    Students are required to participate in visual arts from K through 8. Upon reaching high school, students have the choice of several disciplines, including (but not limited to) drawing, photography, ceramics, and sculpture.

    In Lower School (K–3), students participate in class performances and productions for weekly assemblies, and each class in the Middle School (4–6) performs a play. In Grades 7–12, theatrical and musical productions are highly anticipated events in Potomac's yearly schedule. 7th and 8th graders have the possibility of performing in the winter musical. Upper School students can participate in any of the three annual productions - the fall and spring plays, and the winter musical.

    General music classes are a part of the K-6 schedule. The third- and sixth-grade choruses sing at major assemblies such as May Day; students learn how to play recorder and work with the Orff instrumentarium; and fifth- and sixth-grade students participate in band, handbells or strings. Intermediate School students participate in band, chorus, handbells or strings while going off campus for clinics, competitions and concerts. Many Upper School musicians remain with their chosen ensemble or audition for Chamber Players, Jazz Band or Madrigal Singers. The band participates regularly in competitions. String ensemble members play for an annual solo and ensemble festival and perform in outside auditioned youth orchestras. The handbell ensemble plays solo and massed pieces in an independent school handbell festival. And the Madrigal Singers perform annually at Washington National Cathedral and undertake yearly performing tours in the United States and Europe. Beyond the music curriculum, Upper School students may audition for one of six student-formed and student-led a cappella groups (Magnificent Seven, Mixed Company, Notables, Quintessence, Rhapsody, Insongniacs).

    Upper School students additionally have the option of enrolling in an arts-intensive track.


    Potomac fields 63 teams in 21 sports beginning in 7th grade. Between 1990 and 2013, the Panthers won 53 champion titles in the Mid-Atlantic Conference (boys) and 36 champion titles in the Independent School League (girls), as well as 7 boys squash regional championships, 3 girls squash championships and 9 state championships. More than 140 Potomac athletes have gone on to play varsity college sports. Potomac has produced 31 All-American athletes.

    Students begin physical education in kindergarten and continue through sixth grade. In Grades 7–12, students compete in interscholastic sports, including soccer, football, field hockey, cross country running, basketball, wrestling, squash, indoor track, swimming, track and field, lacrosse, tennis, baseball, and softball. The Potomac School's main competitors include Sidwell Friends School, the National Cathedral School, Flint Hill School, and St. Stephen's & St. Agnes. Athletics are required for all students. In high school, they are required to participate in at least five out of the six seasons (three of the five must be athletic) between freshman and sophomore year; between junior and senior year, only four seasons are required, but the requirement of three athletic seasons is maintained.

    In addition, the School offers non-competitive sports each season, including P.E., weights and conditioning, outdoor education, lifetime sports, and yoga.

    During the 2012-2013 school year, the Potomac Panthers won the following championships: the Mid-Atlantic Championships in boys and girls squash, the Mid-Atlantic Conference Tennis Championship, the Mid-Atlantic Conference Lacrosse Championship, and the Independent School League AA Softball Tournament Championship. During the same year, the girls athletic program was selected as the recipient of the Gary T. Blackman Sportsmanship Award from the Independent School League.

    Extracurricular activities

    Students in the Intermediate and Upper Schools participate in clubs and activities within their divisions, ranging from Model Congress to debate, robotics, and animal welfare society. A Potomac School debater won the 2008 and 2009 Virginia State debate championships. The robotics teams placed first and second in a national competition in 2011 and 2012, and first in 2013. The Upper School produces five student-run and faculty-advised publications: The Pulse (Politics, Sports, Student Life, Entertainment, editorial online publication), Current (news, sports, entertainment & editorial newspaper), Common Sense (editorial/opinion newspaper), Paragon (yearbook), and Phoebus (literary publication).

    Notable alumni

  • Pierre Omidyar – founder of eBay and philanthropist with Omidyar Network
  • Dwaune Jones – scout for the National Football League's New Orleans Saints
  • Keshia Knight Pulliam – actress best known for playing Rudy Huxtable on The Cosby Show
  • Davis Guggenheim – director of An Inconvenient Truth
  • Michael Arndt – screenwriter of Little Miss Sunshine
  • Chris Ayer – solo guitar artist
  • Rostam Batmanglij – member of Vampire Weekend
  • Zal Batmanglij – director of The East
  • Rory Kennedy – documentarian and filmmaker and daughter of RFK
  • Frances Sternhagen – Actor in television, theatre, and film
  • Nick Lowery – 7-time All Pro NFL Place Kicker
  • Robert McDowell – Twice appointed Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Commissioner
  • Sasha DiGiulian – rock climber
  • Alex Ross – music critic for The New Yorker
  • Whit Stillman – film director
  • References

    Potomac School (McLean, Virginia) Wikipedia