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The Potomac School is an independent K–12 preparatory school in McLean, Virginia, United States, located on one 90-acre (36 ha) campus, three miles (5 km) from Washington, D.C.

The Potomac School
Aerial view of a school campus
Aerial view of the school in 2018
1301 Potomac School Road


Coordinates38°56′10″N 77°9′20″W / 38.93611°N 77.15556°W / 38.93611; -77.15556Coordinates: 38°56′10″N 77°9′20″W / 38.93611°N 77.15556°W / 38.93611; -77.15556
TypeIndependent school
MottoLabor Omnia Vincet
"Labor Conquers All"
HeadmasterJohn Kowalik
Color(s)Blue, White, and Orange
MascotPotomac Panthers
NewspaperThe Potomac Pulse (
Common Sense
The Current
PublicationsThe Term Alumni Magazine
Paw Prints (weekly e-newsletter)

Founded in 1904,[1] 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).[2]


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 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 varies, depending in which division the student is enrolled. Tuition for the 2016-2017 school year is as follows:[3]

  • Grades K-3: $33,450
  • Grades 4-6: $35,925
  • Grades 7-8: $38,350
  • Grades 9-12: $38,550

In 2011, a former Potomac student accused a former Intermediate School teacher and administrator of abusing her when she had been a student in the late 1960s. The teacher was arrested by Fairfax County police in November 2012.[4] He was convicted in October 2013 of molesting five girls, and was sentenced to 43 years in prison.[5] 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 three 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 would institute comprehensive training in abuse prevention, universal background checks on all employees and volunteers, and standardized practices for handling abuse complaints.[6]


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

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


  • 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


The 90-acre (36 ha) 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, swimming, track and field, indoor track, 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 physical education, 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.

Notable alumniEdit


  1. ^ "About Us - History". Potomac School. 1947-03-12. Archived from the original on November 2, 2011. Retrieved 2011-11-30.
  2. ^ "About Us". Potomac School. Retrieved 2011-11-30.
  3. ^
  4. ^ Retired teacher Christopher Kloman arrested on charges of sex abuse from 1960s in Virginia | Mail Online
  5. ^ Former Potomac School sentenced to 43 years in decades-old molestations - The Washington Post
  6. ^ Potomac School investigation uncovers more alleged abuse - The Washington Post

External linksEdit