Northwest School

Northwest School
Motto Courtesy and Common Sense
Established 1980
Type Middle and High School
Affiliations NAIS, PNAIS
Asst. Principal Alan Braun
Students 460
Location Seattle, Washington, USA
Colors Maroon and White
Athletics Basketball, Cross-Country, Soccer, Volleyball, Ultimate Frisbee, Track and Field
Mascot The Haüs
Summit School
Northwest School in the old Summit building, 2007
Location: First Hill, Seattle, Washington
Built: 1905
Architect: James Stephen
NRHP Reference#: 79002540
Added to NRHP: October 4, 1979

The Northwest School (originally The Northwest School of the Arts, Humanities and Environment) is a private middle and high school located on Seattle, Washington's First Hill. Founded in 1980, it is located in the 1905 Summit School building, which was listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 1979. The building is also an official City of Seattle landmark.[1]



The Northwest School has always been headed by one of its three founding teachers, Ellen Taussig, Paul Raymond, or Mark Terry. However, due to Paul Raymond's death in 2007, only Ellen Taussig and Mark Terry are still active in the school, in either an administrative or teaching capacity. Ellen Taussig announced her retirement in 2009, effective June 30, 2011. In October 2010, The Northwest School's Board of Trustees hired Michael J. McGill, current Upper School Principal of The Park School of Baltimore, as Taussig's replacement, effective July 1, 2011. His appointment came after an extensive year-long nationwide search.

A second building adjacent to the Summit School building was completed in 2006; the new addition houses an expanded photography studio, library, and computer lab. The original building has also undergone extensive interior renovation, including paint, new windows, and lights.

On May 24, 2010, the Northwest School finalized the sale of a lot adjacent to the school, with plans to build a multipurpose building.


Northwest has approximately 460 students, in grades 6-12, 16% of whom are from outside the United States. There is a dormitory for students in the international program two blocks west of the main Summit building. Tuition for 2009-2010 is $24,415,000 - $26,225,000. For International students, the tuition may vary depending on the country students come from.[2]

Literature, art history and history are taught in a combined program called Humanities, in a lecture and discussion format. All high school students take a three-year Humanities core program, one year each of Physical Science, Biology, and Chemistry, and a minimum of three years each of mathematics and a foreign language. Students take two fine art classes each year, and must satisfy distributional requirements (at least one class each of theater, visual art, music, and dance). Fine Arts classes are taught by practicing professionals in the field. Seniors are required to take one advanced seminar in writing, philosophy or literature, and one in the social studies—such as an introductory law seminar, post-colonial studies, Latin American studies, Asian studies, and women's studies. Students are expected to complete two senior projects in their social studies seminar: volunteer activity with a political campaign during the first two months of the year, and a written thesis during the second half of the year. Seniors are also expected to continue a full academic course load, with 2-3 courses from the mathematics, science, or language departments and at least one arts course.

Students are responsible for the day-to-day maintenance of the school through the Environment program, whereby 15 to 20 minutes of time are set aside three days per week for students to clean and maintain the school. Larger-scale maintenance projects are handled by the school's single janitor and a small maintenance staff.

Notable is the school's Martin Luther King Day, organized by students. The day is spent commemorating the struggle for equal rights, human rights and other issues of social justice. Seasonal festivals include ArtsFest, a yearly arts exposition; and Winterfest, the school's celebration of the sciences. A weekly community meeting brings the school together for discussions and performances.

The school's policy on behavior is "courtesy and common sense", and requires all members of the NWS school community to treat each other with mutual respect. When a student commits a severe disciplinary infraction, he or she is said to have "initiated the process of withdrawal from the community."

Entrance to Northwest is based on the Independent School Entrance Examination (ISEE), reference letters, and a parental application. Students are not required to write any essays in order to gain admission. Aid is only offered to local students and admission is not "need-blind". There are no long term goals to institute a "need-blind" admissions policy.


Sports played at Northwest include soccer, cross country, Track and field, basketball, volleyball, and Ultimate Frisbee. In the past few years, Northwest School has become very competitive in the world of Ultimate Frisbee. Middle school and high school participation combined is over 30% of the student population. In 2005, 2006, 2007 and 2011 the varsity boys team won the Western National Championships and Northwest students made up half of the team that captured the Club National Championship in the summers of 2005 and 2007. In 2011, both the Boys and Girls Varsity teams won the Western National Championships and the Washington State Championships -- the first time both teams swept these competitions. In fall 2011, the boys' varsity team had a perfect record of 23-0, winning the inaugural Seattle Invite and the Washington State Championship along the way.

Students are also welcome to create their own sports teams. Most notable of late has been the hackysack team. Several NWS students started a pioneering interscholastic curling program in 2001. However, lack of interest from other schools forced the Angry Alpacas to compete in a less competitive social setting. Similarly, a croquet and indoor golf club was pioneered as an alternative by some of the class of 2009 in the 07-08 scholastic year, but it also faded with time. A number of students also participate in city, regional and other intramural sports, such as golf, swimming and crew. The staff of the school works well with these extracurricular pursuits and allows this crossover of athletics to continue. In the future, the school will hopefully be able to field sports teams which they currently do not offer.

Notable alumni


  1. ^ Landmarks Alphabetical Listing for S, Individual Landmarks, Department of Neighborhoods, City of Seattle. Accessed 28 December 2007.
  2. ^ Tuition and Fees, The Northwest School. Accessed 5 November 2009.
  3. ^ "Rockers strengthen ties to school with benefit show"
  4. ^ "Seattle Sister"

External links


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