AMY Northwest’s 8th grade graduation ceremony marks the school’s final year in Mt. Airy

Graduations are a usually a bittersweet affair, but this year at AMY Northwest middle school it is one for the books. Students and parents aren’t just leaving their class and school behind – their school is leaving as well, or at least moving farther away.

On Wednesday, a graduation ceremony was held for its eighth graders at its present location at 6611 Ardleigh Street. This was the last class to graduate from AMY Northwest in the rented out space at St. Therese of the Child Jesus.

This fall AMY Northwest will re-open in Roxborough, in the William Levering Elementary four-story building at 6000 Ridge Ave, which was selected as one of eight school’s to be shut down.

Roxborough gives AMY room to grow

For AMY Northwest, a special-admissions school for 6-8 graders, the Roxborough building will allow the school to expand. Six new teachers have already been hired in anticipation of increasing enrollment.

“We’re a magnet, so we can pull from all over, and we can be an option,” said Principal Marco Zanoni of the new location.

“It’s always good to have new talented people come in,” said Lauren Beal, a 7th and 8th grade science teacher at AMY.

Despite the potential for growth, reactions are mixed. Parents and faculty worry that students will have a difficult time getting to and from school because of the greater distance.

“My worry is getting the kids (to school),” said Zanoni.

Saying goodbye to Mt. Airy

Students, graduates and faculty alike feel the pains of change as well. “This (place) has really been utopia,” Zanoni said of the current location. “It really has been a piece of heaven in many ways.”

“I’m definitely going to miss it here,” Beal said.

“I’m sad because I still want to come back and visit,” said graduate Nadya Urquhart. She said she may visit the school at its new Roxborough location.

Success for students is the goal in any location. Jermaine Mapp’s son Jahmir graduated this year and will be attending the High School of Engineering and Science next year. “If it wasn’t for this school and the discipline they gave (Jahmir), I don’t think he would have made it there,” Mapp said.

According to Zanoni, Mapp’s case isn’t out of the ordinary. A majority of the 90 or so graduates have gotten into the school’s of their choice, he said.

Zanoni said that the faith-based partnership developed between AMY and St. Therese is one of the aspects he will miss the most in Mt. Airy, and hopes to somehow continue it in the future.

Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

It will take 126,000 members this year for great news and programs to thrive. Help us get to 100% of the goal.