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Our School

McDonough High School Building

Our Mission

The mission of Maurice J. McDonough High School is to educate all students in a safe, supportive, challenging environment where students learn to be productive citizens in a diverse society.

The mission of Charles County Public Schools is to provide an opportunity for all school-aged children to receive an academically challenging, quality education that builds character, equips for leadership, and prepares for life, in an environment that is safe and conducive to learning. 

Our Vision

The vision of Maurice J. McDonough High School is to create the best environment where students can be prepared for college and career by focusing on equity, creativity, and collaboration. 

Our History

McDonough High School (MHS) which opened its doors in 1976, is located in southern Maryland approximately 25 miles from Washington D.C. The school sits on 52 acres in Pomfret, Maryland. Education was a primary concern for Maurice James McDonough who was born in 1732 in Ireland. He immigrated to the United States and settled in the village of Pomfret, where he operated a general store.

McDonough became increasingly aware of the vast illiteracy of the people, just after the Revolutionary War. It is said that when General Cornwallis surrendered in Yorktown, McDonough relayed the information to his fellow Charles Countians by reading to them from the local newspaper, as they were not able to read the news themselves. Appalled at the lack of educational opportunity given to the people of the area, McDonough made it his goal to make education available to all the children living in his area of the county. In his will, McDonough left his estate to his wife Elizabeth.

McDonough stated that upon Elizabeth's death, the estate was to be sold and the money used to establish a fund to educate the poor children of the area.

Three years later in 1807, Elizabeth died and the $3,000 estate was invested. The income was used to educate needy children according to McDonough's will.

Just after 1900, the McDonough Institute was founded with money from the original estate. The school was the first high school in Charles County. When La Plata High School was founded in 1927, the McDonough Institute was sold and the money was used to provide scholarships to children attending college.

McDonough High School offers a varied curriculum to serve a diverse student population.  When the school was built, the "Open Spaces" concept was popular in education.  For this reason, McDonough High School was built with "pods" rather than classrooms.  The pods housed departments, like Social Studies, English or Science.  Classes were conducted in open spaces within the departmental pods. As you tour McDonough High School today, you can still see the pods, but walls have been re-introduced to create rooms.

There are 130 administration, teachers and support staff working with just under 1000 students enrolled at McDonough. The school has had trailers added to accommodate our growing student population.

The school's Latin motto, "Docere Cognoscere et Excellere," means "To Teach, To Learn, To Excel." 

The regular school day consists of 8 periods, with a one-hour lunch period called HERD Time. The school day begins at 7:30 a.m. and ends at 2:15 p.m.  There are also schedules for a 2-hour early dismissal days and for 2-hour late arrival days.

There are many different extra curricular and co-curricular activities that are offered at McDonough. They include a variety of sports and academic activities. For all of these activities, there is a Charles County eligibility requirement that participants meet a minimum Grade Point Average of 2.00, no failing grades, and be absent no more than 4.5 days in a quarter.

Our Philosophy

We at McDonough High School believe that our school is an institution designated for use by its student population and its community. Realizing that our school serves a geographical area composed of students with diverse cultural and socio-economic backgrounds with varying needs, we offer a variety of curricular, extra-curricular activities and programs that suit these needs. Therefore, it is essential that our school provide a safe and orderly environment in which every student has an equal opportunity regardless of race, gender, ethnic origin, or creed to participate in all phases of the educational experience needed to achieve his fullest potential in our ever-changing society. It is our intent to foster the mental, emotional and physical well being of each student, and to provide each young person in our school the opportunity to pursue a successful secondary education.

It is of utmost importance as educators that we strive for the development of the total individual. It is our goal not only to provide for the acquisition of cognitive skills, but also to educate our students in the development of a high degree of self-knowledge, a sense of responsibility, self-conduct and respect for others, as well as to inspire confidence and pride. Toward these ends we offer students a well-rounded curriculum that involves the basic-to-advanced academics, fine arts, technology education and career readiness options.

It is our aim to offer comprehensive and sequential courses that provide students with an optimal choice of content, teaching techniques, instructional materials and learning activities. The primary purpose of formal education is to determine the student's current level of performance, both academically and physically, and to encourage the student to progress at his or her own pace. We recognize that it is our responsibility as educators to use reliable testing and evaluative techniques to identify these developmental levels and to implement strategies for improvement in order to ensure that all students have the necessary skills to meet all graduation requirements.

The individual is paramount not only in education, but also in society. The school must direct each student in fostering respect for authority, property, peers, community groups and cultural diversity. McDonough High School endeavors to provide all students with an effective understanding of economic, technological, political and social aspects of our society. Students learn the importance of exercising leadership, working cooperatively with others, fulfilling civic and social obligations and establishing goals and values. Recognizing the importance of this goal, we feel that it is the responsibility of the community to offer its support and to become aware of the school's various needs and aspirations.

Our school offers a unique opportunity for students from a variety of socio-­economic and cultural backgrounds to learn from each other and to develop skills in social interaction. Teachers and administrators of various cultural backgrounds serve as models of cooperation and interdependence by means of exhibited mutual respect, professionalism, and open communications. Through the classroom, students are directed toward in-depth understanding of the origins and histories of our many-faceted society. It is our hope that our students, as products of our educational system, graduate with the skills for success necessary to become productive members of society.