Founded in 1993 as Madison Middle School 2000, the school alleviated crowding in the West High School attendance area and served as a hopeful sign to the ethnically diverse South Side, which lacked a middle school. The school moved to its building at 1717 Fish Hatchery Road (Panoramic view) in 1997 and was renamed for the late Rev. James C. Wright, a prominent local black pastor and civil rights leader.
The school’s early years were marred by lax discipline, high staff turnover, the resignation of the original principal and clashes among parents and teachers over governance. Stability arrived in 1998 with Ed Holmes, whose six-year tenure as principal earned praise from many parents and students.
“I would characterize (Wright) as one of the district’s grand experiments,” said Holmes, now West High principal.
As a charter school, students choose it; no one is assigned there. Enrollment is capped at 255, and classes rarely exceed 20 students. The school’s mission stresses civic engagement, social action and multicultural pride.
Related: Wright economically disadvantaged WKCE test scores compared to other Madison middle schools. Notes and links on President Obama’s recent visit to Madison’s Wright Middle School.