WASHINGTON, D.C. – Thomas Hayes enjoyed showing off his high school swag during National School Choice Week the last Friday in January. He wore the high school’s casual Friday uniform, as opposed to a handful of his fellow classmates who wore the Monday through Thursday formal uniform Archbishop Carroll High School requires its students to wear.

The private school’s location is in a low-income neighborhood outside the DC beltway. It is a co-educational, International Baccalaureate High School run by the Archdiocese of Washington.

Hayes said the one-hour commute to attend the private school is well worth it. The private school’s underlying Catholicism principle – to see a reflection of God in others – was evident in his humble demeanor.

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When he was accepted at Carroll, Hayes said he committed to excelling academically from year-to-year. He said his grade-point-average went from a 3.2 to a 3.4 to a 3.7 to a 4.3. He said he also agreed to the school’s philosophy to embrace differences either through genuine acceptance, or humor. The private school’s student body represents over 40 nationalities.

Unlike when he attended his former public school district, he said he felt as though he was just another student attending classes. To him, he was only inspired to perform to a level of mediocrity. At Carroll, he said, his desire to become competitive in the classroom became comparable to winning on the football field.

“If I failed, a teacher would come to me and I wouldn’t have to go to them,” he said about Carroll teachers. “I’m really intelligent. I don’t have to try hard to get good grades. But, the things I was doing in my public school, I found out, I couldn’t do here.”

The school is composed of a diverse community of 385 students in grades 9 to 12.

Current demographics:

  • 21 percent of students are either form another country or have one parent from another country
  • 76 percent of students are African American; 19 percent are multiracial
  • 13 percent of students are Hispanic
  • 63 zip codes are represented in D.C., Maryland and Virginia
  • 53 percent are male; 47 percent are female
  • 27 percent are Catholic – an increase over prior years
  • 50 percent of the students participate in the Opportunity Scholarship Program

Carroll has 64 feeder schools. The schools include, 16 Catholic; 10 non-Catholic private; 17 public charter schools; 19 public schools, and 1 homeschooled student.

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According to the DC Opportunity Scholarship Program, scholarships are eligible to “District children to attend a participating private D.C. elementary, middle, or high school of their parent’s choice.” The 2014-15 school year offered scholarships up to $12,572 for high school, and up to $8,381 for elementary and middle school, which can be used to pay for tuition, school-related fees, and public transportation expenses.Carroll costs roughly $13,000 per pupil.

The school’s revenue is:

  • 32 percent from parent payments
  • 10 percent from Archdiocesan scholarships
  • 22 percent from fundraising efforts
  • remaining from scholarship sources, primarily the Opportunity Scholarship Program

Freshman Krishna Najjar, whose parents are from India and Boston, said before he entered a physics classroom that he feels that he is part of the equation. Carroll boasts an 11:1 student to teacher ratio.

“My teacher discusses the problems with us,” Najjar said. “He moves the students forward. We work together so nothing’s a surprise. It’s really fun and free moving. If something’s wrong, we don’t make fun of one another for it. We act like actual people in a class. We are a democracy, not a monarchy.”

Published with permission