Wootton shows diversity, rigorous coursework in MCPS comparison

Zara Denison
staff writer

As students at this school, we recognize the exceptionally challenging courses that we take, and know our school to be one with a strong emphasis on academics. We take pride in our diversity, but infamously lack in school spirit. These are all common perceptions that students hold. but are these stereotypes about our school accurate? What reputation does this school have throughout the county?

Strong focus on academics

This school is known for its intense focus on academia, not only among the students here, but throughout the county, and even the country. In the Washington Post’s list of most challenging high schools in the U.S, it was ranked 257th, among thousands. With 75 percent of graduates having passed an AP exam during high school, it makes sense for students to feel like they’re being held to a demanding standard. “I always hear kids from Wootton complaining about their classes and them being a lot harder. I definitely feel like there’s a lot more pressure at Wootton, and if I’m ever doing homework with friends from Wootton it feels like they always know a little bit more in depth of whatever the subject is. I remember biology especially like my friends would tell me stuff and I would have no clue where it was coming from,” Walter Johnson junior Ellie Eastep said.

Used as an excuse?

Although Wootton is recognized as one of the more challenging schools, some feel that it is overhyped. “Yeah I know Wootton can be tough, but I feel like people use it as an excuse for things sometimes. Like I go to Richard Montgomery and I’m in the IB program, along with some of my fellow peers and the workload for that is insane,” junior Noah Turner said.

Always hardworking

Along with its reputation of being a hard school, students are also known to be exceptionally hard working. A poll from 2017 said that 93 percent of students here describe themselves as “hard working.” This diligence and discipline is seen throughout the county. “RM is a really fun school. Halloween week we had a huge party Thursday night. That is not something you would ever see go down at Wootton. School is almost everyone at Wootton’s number one thing. They all care so much,” Turner said.

Sports perspective

Students here are hardworking in all aspects, including sports. Yet, compared to other schools Wootton has a reputation for being bad at sports. “I never heard anything about any one from Wootton getting committed anywhere, or them getting into the playoffs. I also know they never win football games,” Eastep said.

This perspective of Wootton varies wildly, depending on which schools are asked. Big football schools like Quince Orchard and Northwest generally say this is in unathletic school that never does well in sports. Schools who have teams that excel in other sports think differently. “There’s some good competition with you guys for football, and hockey, that’s a big one. You guys also killed us in soccer, super impressive team there. Wootton has some things to be proud of,” Churchill senior Parker DeSalvio said.

Negative perspective

The negative perception of this school’s sports goes hand in hand with an ever present school spirit issue. Students have recently been trying to combat this issue and help the schools image. At the soccer semi-finals, the Wootton side was filled with adoring fans cheering, led by a group of seniors. “Other schools see us as a joke because we don’t have spirit, so we need to be loud,” senior Josiah Kim said.

Because of the emphasis placed on football as one of the major high school sports, other sports get swept under the rug, even if they have better records. “Obviously Wootton has a great soccer program. But because people pay more attention to football, which you guys have had a bad season in, it seems like your whole school just has bad athletics. Honestly, if I hadn’t watched the game last week I would still think your school had bad sports,” Matt Grau, a Whitman freshman, said.

Other school’s perspective

Students from other schools, and even students who belong to this community, commonly stereotype it as a primarily Asian school. This stigma around having a school with a strong makeup of Asian students has been a catalyst for derogatory terms. Students from other schools in Montgomery county refer to Wootton as “Wonton,” in an attempt to make fun of the Asian population in this community. “I don’t know that much about Wootton because I don’t know anyone who goes there, but I know it’s like all super smart Asians,” Grau said.

This school isn’t alone in being generalized by the dominant ethnicity of students at the school. Whitman, a primary white school, is also stereotyped by their statistics and has been given the name “whiteman” by other Montgomery County schools. “I used to think the ‘wonton’ thing was funny, honestly. But, it’s disappointing to see schools get made fun of because the people that go there. There is a lot more to a school community than just the faces of it’s students,” Grau said.

The strength of diversity

Although coined an “Asian” school, Wootton is also recognized for its diversity. With a diversity score of 0.65, this has more than the average diversity seen in most high schools in Maryland. “Yes there are more Asian people at our school, and there isn’t anything wrong with that. I’m Asian too, but I’m mixed with other stuff, and more than that I’m just another student. It’s not like I sit in a class and am only surrounded by one kind of group of people, and I wish more people would see that about Wootton,” junior Zara Chavoshi said.

The academic nature and intensity also influences the environment and energy of the students here. It is known that this is one of the wealthier and more academic schools in Montgomery County. People make assumptions about the attitudes, cultural backgrounds and financial status of students who attend this school, solely by knowing they go here. “We call people who go to Wootton, Churchill or WJ people from the ‘upper county’. Upper county just seem like better, more developed schools, and it feels like those students are seen as superior to ‘down county’ schools like Einstein,” Frances Clark, a sophomore at Einstein, said.

The main pressures

Because of all the pressures that inherently come with being a student here, it can come across like going to this school is all work and no play. But students from other Montgomery County schools can relate to these strenuous expectations and see things with more open eyes. “Going to Churchill, and having such a close relationship to Wootton, even as rivals, it’s clear to me that were both such similar schools. Both of our football teams are lacking, and there aren’t crazy parties every weekend, not because we don’t like fun, but because we just have bigger priorities. I don’t know that many people from Wootton but y’all seem like friendly group” Parker DeSalvio, a senior at Churchill, said.

Not only do schools outside of this community notice tension and competitiveness, but students within these walls feel this same energy around the school. As if the school work isn’t burdensome enough, constantly comparing scores or grades to other students makes it feel hard to catch a breath. “Everyone is just trying to get by, and get the best grades they can. Sometimes even my friends are hesitant to help me with stuff just so they can excel comparatively. It’s just draining having to watch your back all the time,” junior Kevin Friedman said.

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