The Spangler Center for Athletics and Community 

A Potomac School education integrates academics, arts, and athletics, challenging students to develop their interests and talents in diverse areas. Physical education and athletics are an important part of the overall picture, reflecting Potomac's commitment to health and well-being, sportsmanship, teamwork, and the development of leadership skills. 

The Spangler Center, opened in November 2019, supports Potomac's robust athletics program, which fields 71 teams at various levels (intermediate, junior varsity, and varsity) in 25 interscholastic sports. The facility also offers resources to promote health and wellness, including a fitness center, a strength and conditioning room, a multipurpose studio, and an indoor jogging/walking track. 

The Spangler Center's flexible spaces can be configured for a variety of academic, athletic, and social events -- and its gymnasium is an indoor space large enough to accommodate the entire Potomac community for K-12 assemblies and other gatherings.

At Potomac, school spirit and a strong sense of community are important. The Spangler Center is an amazing resource that brings the campus community together and fuels our PANTHER PRIDE!

Spangler Center for Athletics and Community
Spangler Center
Thanksgiving Assembly

The Center will include:

  • a gymnasium with two full-size competition courts for basketball and volleyball, and divider curtains that allow for three full-size cross-court practice spaces
  • an indoor jogging/walking track
  • seven squash courts with spectator seating
  • a fitness center, strength and conditioning room, and multipurpose studio, all outfitted with state-of-the-art equipment and technology
  • a team meeting room, athletics offices, and conference room
  • the "Panther Den" student lounge
  • flexible gathering spaces that can be configured to accommodate a wide variety of academic, athletic, and social events
A Commencement to Remember

On the morning of July 24, after extensive planning, careful attention to safety protocols, and a rain delay, The Potomac School hosted an on-campus Commencement celebration for its Class of 2020. Each of the 111 graduates was permitted to bring two guests, while other family members and friends watched the ceremony via live stream. Potomac’s originally scheduled Commencement date was June 5, but the ceremony was postponed to allow additional time after the end of the academic year to work out the details of a safe, socially distanced celebration.

With the graduates and their guests gathered outdoors on the Upper School Quad, Head of School John Kowalik, Head of Upper School Doug McLane, and Senior Class President Kat Plaza ‘20 offered words of welcome. Faculty members Dr. Giovanna Bello and Torrye Parker then shared inspiring readings. William Bailey ’20 was selected by his peers to give the senior address, and Dr. Giorgio Secondi spoke for the faculty.

While acknowledging the serious challenges that the Class of 2020, America, and the world face, Bailey also highlighted many positive developments that have taken place during the graduates’ lifetimes. He observed, “I think we have tremendous reason for hope and excitement about what lies ahead. I recognize that some might find it odd to find positive impacts from recent tragedy, but I think it is important to be an optimist, perhaps now more than ever.”

Secondi’s address, laced with humor, focused on the importance of thoughtful decision making. He concluded, “Let me express the hope that, at least in some parts of your life, you will focus on something that challenges you. Things that come easy tend to be those that we already know; you need to take on hard things if you want to learn something new and grow as a person. And growth is what makes life a rewarding journey.”

As the graduates came forward one-by-one to accept their diplomas, Board of Trustees Chair Sameer Bhargava, John Kowalik, Doug McLane, and K-12 Academic Director Juna Kim McDaid greeted them with smiles and applause.

In his closing remarks, Kowalik offered the graduates some valuable advice: “It has been observed that ‘nothing in nature blooms all year round.’ Life, like nature, has its cycles. Knowing this, I strongly advocate optimism; it’s a mindset that we can cultivate if we try. By looking for the bright side of situations, by being grateful for what we have rather than focusing on what we lack, and by remembering that things do, inevitably, change – often for the better – we can keep our own spirits up and continue to move in a positive direction, even in the toughest of times.”

He also assured the graduates that they are well prepared for the next stage of their lives, noting, “As you leave Potomac, you take with you all that you have learned here. You also take our admiration, appreciation, and affection. We know that you will do great things.”

Natalie Martin '20

Arlington Magazine recently named Natalie Martin ’20 as one of their “Extraordinary Teens” for 2020. This is the seventh consecutive year that a Potomac student has received this honor. Natalie was recognized for her commitment to scientific research, her acts of service, her athletic participation, and the way she has contributed to the Potomac community as a whole. Potomac congratulates her on this incredible achievement.

One way Natalie is particularly extraordinary involves the research she has done in the Science and Engineering Research Center (SERC) program. Arlington Magazine details the way that she fell in love with battery science and began work on ways to make battery systems safer. She dreams of one day running her own lab, featuring scientists with a wide variety of perspectives.

To read more about Natalie and her accomplishments, click here.

Photo credit: Arlington Magazine

Message from Board Chair and Head of School

Dear Potomac School Community,

As the Fourth of July approaches, America is grappling with serious challenges. Along with the health and economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, we are confronting the consequences of a long history of systemic racism. Civil unrest is shaking our country out of complacency, compelling us to take a hard look at ourselves and the communities of which we are a part.

Some calls for change are hitting very close to home. You may have seen recent articles in the media about manifestations of racism at independent schools, including Potomac. You are probably also aware of the surge in social media activity around these topics, as Black students, alumni, parents, and faculty from various schools speak out about their experiences and concerns.

We are listening to all that is being said, particularly the stories shared by members of the Potomac community. Hearing these stories is painful and difficult. But how much more painful and difficult must it be to live such experiences? On behalf of The Potomac School, we offer a heartfelt apology for the ways in which we have failed our Black students, and we pledge to do better. We ask the members of our community to partner with us as we work to make Potomac a place where every individual feels respected and valued.

We want to assure you that Potomac is committed to creating an inclusive environment and that we are focused on moving from intention to action. To support our efforts, we have been preparing to host a series of listening sessions with alumni, students, and parents, the first of which will be held later this month. We will create opportunities to hear from all members of our community, beginning with those who identify as Black, to ensure that we are centering their voices in the conversation about race and racism. Our faculty are also engaged in discussion on these critical topics and are reviewing our curriculum in this light. Additionally, over the past two years, our Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee, which includes trustees, administrators, and faculty, has been leading Potomac’s efforts to focus more purposefully on the areas of enrollment, hiring, and campus life. While we have made progress, we know that there is more that we can, and must, do.

We will continue to share information about this ongoing work and our plans to engage the many voices within the Potomac community to inform our efforts and propel them forward. For now, we wish you and your families a restful and enjoyable Fourth of July. May this holiday afford us an opportunity to reflect on how the principles of liberty, equality, and justice can be realized for all.


John Kowalik
Sameer Bhargava
Chair, Board of Trustees
John Kowalik
Head of School


For more information on Potomac's ongoing work to advance diversity, equity, and inclusion, please visit