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College Preparatory Curriculum

141At Thurgood Marshall Academy, we prepare our students for college and career by providing a challenging academic curriculum infused with the themes of law and justice. We know that not all of our students strive to enter the legal field, but we do believe that five essential legal skills—advocacy, argumentation, critical thinking, negotiation, and research—will prepare students for success in any career.

Classes

Above and beyond the traditional high school curriculum, Thurgood Marshall Academy students have the opportunity to take honors classes, courses in law, and a variety of electives. We offer six Advanced Placement classes (Calculus AB, Computer Science, English Language, English Literature, US Government & Politics, and US History), honors English and math courses, and as well as honors science, social studies, and Spanish classes.

To augment their core courses, students choose from a range of electives including introduction to law, African-American studies, introduction to business, debate, drama, advanced topics in history, psychology, sociology, and Street Law. Thurgood Marshall Academy has also established partnerships with local universities so our students can take college courses for both high school and college credit during their junior and senior years.

Thurgood Marshall Academy believes that every student can go to college; in pursuit of that goal, we offer a specialized program, at every grade level:

  • Ninth- and incoming tenth-grade students enroll in our Summer Prep program to facilitate the transition from other schools to the rigorous academic environment at Thurgood Marshall Academy.
  • Freshman and sophomore students enroll in double-block English and math classes; as a result, these student take twice as much classroom instruction as their peers in traditional high school programs.
  • All Thurgood Marshall Academy juniors enroll in a semester-long SAT preparation class to ensure that they master the skills required by the important college admissions test and have practiced test-taking.
  • Thurgood Marshall Academy seniors participate in Senior Seminar, a year-long class taught by our college counseling staff. During the course, students receive intensive coaching on the college application process, with an emphasis on completing college applications, drafting personal statements, applying for scholarships, and preparing for the transition to college life.

Legal Education and Programs

Thurgood Marshall Academy’s five legal skills are at the core of the development of the curriculum for all classes. Students complete a law-related project in each social studies class, recognizing the opportunities and challenges presented by the legal system throughout history. Students are first introduced to the practice of law in ninth grade through the Law Day program, a six-session half-day legal workshop taught by volunteer attorneys. Juniors are mentored and tutored once a week by attorneys and legal staff at partner law firms through our Law Firm Tutoring program.

Once interest in the legal field is piqued, upperclassmen are enrolled in introduction to law, led by an attorney on staff, and take Street Law, offered in partnership with Georgetown University Law Center. Each school year ends with students reflecting upon the infusion of the five legal skills in their course work and curricular activities as part of law integration during the Portfolio process each spring.

Portfolio

Thurgood Marshall Academy’s unique portfolio assessment process requires students to examine their academic achievements and struggles and present their reflections and plans for the future before a panel of teachers, staff members, volunteers and parents each year. This presentation also includes students’ discussion of their behavior and overall contribution to the school. This process helps students to better understand their own abilities and potential and also strengthens their public speaking and presentation skills.

Extracurricular Activities

Thurgood Marshall Academy students learn in and out of the classroom, and from teachers, mentors, advisors, attorneys, and peers. We have established partnerships with more than 30 organizations throughout DC to help make it possible for students to pursue a wide range of interests and dreams. Students can:

  • Volunteer in their communities and across the city—100 hours of service are required to graduate
  • Compete on athletic teams in the charter school league
  • Argue on the debate team
  • Write for the student literary journal
  • Perform with the drama club and dance team
  • Build and program robots to perform specific tasks then compete with Robotics teams across DC and Maryland
  • Improve the earth through Thurgood Marshall Academy’s Green Club, which maintains one of the largest school gardens in the District.