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International Dateline

The Student News Site of Washington International School

International Dateline

The Student News Site of Washington International School

International Dateline

Dateline’s Declassified WIS Survival Guide

Datelines Declassified WIS Survival Guide


So, you’re new to WIS. And you’re a tad bit lost. What is this grill day that people speak of? The A&A? Davies Hall? Where are you supposed to go on the first day? What are you supposed to wear? These are all important questions, but fear no more. Below is the ultimate guide.

First Day of School

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Whatever time you get to WIS, head straight to the theatre. Every year, the whole high school gathers for an assembly where we’re told how great the year before was, how we all have to pull together to make this year “even better!”, and how many changes they’ve made over the summer. At about 8:30am summer will start to feel like it never happened. Don’t worry, if you look around you will see the same look come over 280 other faces.

The classes on the first day are condensed because of the assembly. At this point hopefully you’ll get to meet all your teachers, some students (don’t worry if you can’t remember their names, names at WIS can be a nightmare even for those of us who’ve been here a while), and you’ll get a sense for what your classes will be like.

If you’re nervous about where to sit at lunch, kids at WIS are super friendly. More than that, they’re always looking for new friends: remember that the grades are small and that people want to get to know you just as much as you want to get to know them.



How do I find out who’s in my grade?

First and foremost, just ask! Pretty soon you’ll have had enough classes with people to figure it out, but seriously, seriously, seriously, people are really friendly and everyone’s happy to help.

If you’re really struggling, grab a yearbook! They have them in the Mansion near Mr. Markus’s office (just follow the trail of seniors) and they have editions going back years and years and years. You can always try and find old embarrassing pictures of people! You never know when the blackmail will come in handy.



The WIS schedule runs on an eight day rotation, days ranging from A-H. This may seem very confusing at first, but writing it down is a good way to keep track. The schedule system essentially means that the first week of school will run through days A-E, whilst the next Monday will start on an F day. As soon as the week runs out of letters, essentially, you reach day H, the week starts over. This system ensures that students receive a set amount of hours per subject, instead of being limited by the hours in a five day week. This also means that juniors and seniors only need to survive sixth period three times a cycle, rather than three times a week. Trust us, if you can’t appreciate that now, you will soon. (Disclaimer: If you are one of the insane ones who takes four highers, you are 100% allowed to bemoan your frequent 4pm dismissal. This group suffering creates community.)

Additionally, school starts at 8.15 am every day, with the first bell ringing at 8.10 am. It’s such that WIS has bells that ring 5 minutes before class time, essentially suggesting that you should (hastily) be making your way to class (of course depending on which building you will be in). The school day ends at 2.50 pm for freshmen and sophomores, whilst those that take the IB, juniors and seniors, have a schedule that varies more.

Free periods are one of the few perks that come with being an IB student (aka, juniors and seniors). You’re free to go off campus (although juniors have to wait until progress reports), but don’t be fooled. An hour is way less time than you think, and do not expect a warm welcome if you walk in late to class with a Starbucks coffee. Seriously, if you’re not sure you can make it, stick to the cafe. And if you do go off campus, don’t forget to sign out with Ms. Howard (whose office is right next to the senior lounge)


Dress Code:

WIS dress code is generally quite relaxed. Students are pretty much free to wear what they want, the only guideline that’s really adhered to is the BBBB rule: no showing belly-button, behind, boxers or bra straps. The only real fashion faux-pas at WIS is wearing a white dress or a suit on your first day of school. This tradition is reserved for the 12th graders, something WIS seniors have been doing for years, so new seniors, take note!


What’s cool near WIS?

Chipotle (Pro Tip: People at WIS go insane for Chipotle. If at any point you are lacking someone to hang out with, go to Chipotle. 99/100 times there will be someone from your grade their ESPECIALLY after school sporting events.)

Firehook: This is a great place to go study after school if you want a change of pace from the library. And everyone knows the best way to get over a stressful day is through some serious chocolate therapy, in the form of Firehook’s walnut brownie. Seriously, trust us on this one.

The zoo: Come here if you’re ever looking for someone on the cross country team. However, even if you don’t like to run, the zoo is a great place to go for a walk, or to get some fresh air. Bring a friend and make sure to stop at the Starbucks before you head in! (Because really, why wouldn’t you stop at Starbucks if you have the option of stopping at Starbucks?) AND THE PANDA BABY!


If we’re being totally honest, when it comes to walking, WIS kids can get pretty lazy. If you’re a junior or a senior you can always just try the WIS cafe; not only do they have killer shakes, they also require minimal effort (which becomes an important part of the decision making process once you’ve started the I.B.)


How do most people get to WIS (transport)?

Some people metro,

some people bus,

some people get driven,

they’re luckier than us,

some people walk,

some people drive,

beware of the tickets,

or your bank account will take a serious dive


Real talk though, invest in a SmarTrip or DC One card (available through Ms. Howard). Parking will be impossible to find and you’ll have to be vary of zoning, so be on the safe side and arrive early. Parking tickets are distributed constantly; they’re practically a rite of passage, although not a particularly pleasant one. Avoid these by knowing the rules: you cannot park below John Eaton during the day UNLESS you have zone 3 parking. (And yes, this means you too Matteo). Only seniors can park on campus, and even that is a process of going through Ms. Howard and getting a special sticker, combined with first come first serve to catch one of the four spots available at the bridge. 


How do grades work?

At WIS we’re graded on a 1-7 scale, with 1 being the worst and 7 being the best. Below is a percentage to grade conversion chart we drew up just for you:

Grade Percentage
7 100-95
7- 94-90
6+ 89-87
6 86-83
6- 82-80
5+ 79-77
5 76-73
5- 72-70
4+ 69-67
4 66-63
4- 62-60
3+ 59-57
3 56-53
3- 52-50

And so on and so forth. Anything in the 4 range and above is passing.


Navigating WIS

Potentially team up with a buddy, throwin’ it back to kindergarten. It may save you. Or not. Prepare to get lost. Like, a lot.


How do I get involved? What’s already happening?

There’s a plethora of clubs to join at WIS; whether it’s Student Government (better known as ISU), newspaper (we’re cool, join us!), Model UN/OAS/AL, GIN, sports, literary magazine, Martha’s Table, Best Buddies, African American Culture club, Reading Partners, Interact, and many, many more. It’s all about joining, trying it out, and seeing if this club might be something for you. There will be a club fair later into the school year, so don’t worry, you will have plenty of opportunities to join what’s right for you. Missing a club? Fill out the new club form on Moodle to start your own!


What is Spirit Week?

Not too long after school has commenced, you’ll start hearing about a so-called “Spirit Week”. Spirit Week is the one week a year where the entire high school gets to dress up 5 days in a row with outfits typically ranging from “twin day”, where friends where identical outfits, “nationality day”, where your outfit reflects your origins, “grade colors”, where your grade all wears apparel that reflects your grade’s assigned/chosen color and many more. The outfits and days vary per year, so make sure you’re up to speed by adding yourself to the WIS HS group on Facebook!

If you’re curious to know more, check out the article from last year’s spirit week. 

Any other questions you have we’re happy to answer! Send us a message on Facebook or stop us during school. And, if you’re new and looking for something to do, join the Dateline staff! We could always use new writers, especially those with a fresh new perspective.

By Sonia Pearson and Bella Teerlink

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