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Charles Wright Academy

An award-winning co-educational independent day school in Tacoma serving students from preschool to grade 12.

Charles Wright Academy

Charles Wright Academy is a Tacoma private school serving girls and boys from preschool to grade 12. As an independent day school with an elementary school, a middle school, and a high school on one campus, our supportive learning environment offers differentiated learning so students of all ages receive just the right level of challenge. A Charles Wright education features small classes, excellent faculty, and a beautiful 107-acre campus where children can develop academic, artistic, and athletic skills in preparation for college and life. Our mission is to inspire active, joyful learning while nurturing and challenging our students to develop the character, creativity, and skills to successfully navigate the future with confidence.

Head of School
Matt Culberson

Religious affiliation
Founded within the Olympia Episcopal archdiocese, CWA is now a non-sectarian school. We welcome students and families from all religious and non-religious backgrounds.

NWAIS Status
Accredited member

Admissions testing
Admissions URL

Sibling discount

School highlights:

Since 1957, Charles Wright Academy faculty have inspired students every day with extraordinary learning experiences. Our school is co-educational, college prep, and dedicated to values of integrity, respect, compassion, perseverance, and excellence. CWA features a challenging and balanced liberal arts academic curriculum with small classes, robust athletics and arts programs, frequent opportunities for travel and outdoor education, as well as a beautiful 107-acre campus. We offer extensive bus service, including routes from Gig Harbor, Tacoma, Olympia, Federal Way, and Kent.
Learn more at

Special programs

  • Lower School: Running Club, X-TRA Art, technology and coding, and other extracurricular activities are available in the Lower School.
  • Middle School: Middle Schoolers can compete on the cross-divisional robotics team with Upper Schoolers or become disc jockeys on the Ultimate Frisbee team.
  • Upper School: The Upper School Knowledge Bowl team has won several recent state championships, and other special programs with rich tradition at CWA include National History Day, Model United Nations, local and international travel, Global Summit (a 10-day-long cultural exchange program that includes teachers, students, and guest speakers from around the world every fall), Outdoor Education and Experiential Education weeks, and myriad extracurricular clubs and activities.

Facilities and resources
Charles Wright Academy is home to numerous academic, artistic, and athletic facilities and resources.

  • Science: State-of-the-art science labs—including a dedicated research laboratory—opened in fall 2014.
  • Performing arts: Performing arts facilities include the black-box-style Donn Laughlin Theater, dressing rooms, rehearsal spaces, and a recording studio.
  • Visual arts: Tarriers exploring the visual arts can do so in both two-dimensional and three-dimensional art design studios.
  • Athletics: The Tarrier Dome and the Wight Gym are home to gleaming basketball courts, weight rooms, training centers, and dance studios. Outdoor practice fields, tennis courts, a soccer and football stadium, and a baseball diamond greet you as you enter campus.
  • Outdoors: Faculty, staff, and students cultivate two small vegetable gardens on campus, and the food service team prepares a daily seasonal menu featuring locally sourced, natural, and organic foods.

Learning support

  • Learning specialists: Charles Wright Academy employs three learning specialists—one for each division—who provide supplementary support in areas of study skills and organization. They also assist students with documented learning differences in receiving the accommodations they need to achieve their personal best.
  • School counselors: One dedicated school counselor serves the Lower and Middle Schools, and one dedicated school counselor serves the Upper School.
  • College counselors: Two full-time college counselors work closely with high schoolers (especially juniors and seniors) in the Upper School.

Before/after school activities
CWA offers before- and after-school care. The school offers after-school snack and light dinner service in addition to breakfast and lunch service.

Arts programs

  • We offer 20 visual and performing arts courses and opportunities to perform and exhibit regularly.
  • Theater: After school, students produce a fall play, a winter play or musical, and a spring one-acts festival. Theater course offerings include technical theater, improvisation and the theater, theater ensemble, and monologues and scene study.
  • Music: Musical and vocal performance course offerings include Charles Wright choir, Charles Wright Academy Singers, string orchestra, symphonic band, jazz ensemble, guitar, and modern music ensemble.
  • Visual arts: Visual arts course offerings include digital media design, painting and drawing, photography, printmaking, sculpture, yearbook, ceramics, advanced ceramics, and advanced studio art.

Sports programs (Boys)
We compete in the WIAA 1A Nisqually League in baseball, basketball, cross-country, football, golf, soccer, tennis, and track and field.
Several Tarrier coaches were also named Nisqually Coach of the Year in their respective sports.
Recent team state championships include tennis, cross-country, basketball, and golf.
A student-led co-ed Ultimate club competes in regional tournaments. We also offer fitness, dance, and outdoor education classes.

Sports programs (Girls)
We compete in the WIAA 1A Nisqually League in basketball, cross-country, golf, soccer, tennis, track and field, and volleyball.
Nisqually League championships include cross-country, tennis, and track and field. Several Tarrier coaches were also named Nisqually Coach of the Year in their respective sports.
A student-led co-ed Ultimate club competes in regional tournaments. We also offer fitness, dance, and outdoor education classes.

Advanced Placement or honors classes
Advanced Placement (AP) courses offered:

  • AP Biology
  • AP Calculus AB
  • AP Calculus BC
  • AP Chemistry
  • AP Computer Science
  • AP Economics (Includes Macro and Micro)
  • AP English Literature and Composition
  • AP European History
  • AP French
  • AP Physics I
  • AP Physics II
  • AP Spanish Language (Spanish Literature offered alternating years)
  • AP Statistics
  • AP U.S. Government and Politics
  • AP U.S. History

Honors and advanced courses offered:

  • Academy Singers (by audition)
  • Advanced Ceramics
  • Advanced Studio Art
  • Honors Algebra II
  • Honors Geometry
  • Science Research
  • Spanish 200 Honors
  • Spanish 300 Honors
  • Spanish 400 Honors

Statement of diversity
Charles Wright Academy is a diverse community that strives to expand and enrich students’ perspectives on the world. Recognizing the value of diversity in our community, Charles Wright Academy has an unwavering commitment to provide a respectful, supporting, and nurturing environment in which to explore individual differences and commonalities and prepare students for today’s pluralistic society. - Adopted by the Board of Trustees, December 2009

World language programs

  • French
  • Japanese
  • Spanish

College preparation
Virtually 100 percent of our graduates are college-bound Please visit our college counseling page for more information about college preparation at Charles Wright Academy:

Graduation requirements

  • Four years of English
  • Three years of history/social studies
  • Three years of mathematics
  • Biology, physics and chemistry
  • Completion through the 300 level of either French, Japanese, or Spanish (years of instruction varies on level of knowledge upon entering Upper School)
  • One year of visual arts
  • One year of performing arts
  • Seven seasons of interscholastic athletics, nine seasons of fitness classes, or a combination (which could include non-CWA offerings in which students compete, e.g., swimming, rock climbing, ballet)
  • Contribution of 15 hours each year of community service to any nonprofit organization for 9th and 10th graders; 20 hours each year for 11th and 12th graders
  • Completion of the 9th grade seminar, a yearlong course covering digital citizenship, political citizenship (civics), and world religions
  • Participation in 10th grade Outdoor Education, a five-day backpacking or kayaking trip in the sophomore year
  • Participation in annual weeklong experiential learning activities, known as Winterim
  • Completion of a senior internship, a three-week full-time experience in the community at the end of the 12th grade year

School news:

Business hours are Monday-Friday, 8 a.m.-4:30 p.m.
School hours are Monday-Friday, 8:15 a.m.-3:10 p.m.