School History

Nova operated in the Horace Mann Building for over 30 years and through the 2008-2009 school year.

Nova was founded in 1970 and housed in rented space at the downtown YMCA. Nova students earned all credits by fulfilling contracts, which they wrote themselves. Much of the learning was carried on outside of the classrooms and attendance was not required.

Mann Building History

In September 1901, Walla Walla Annex, thus named because it was in the Walla Walla real estate division, opened in a rented store building at 21st Avenue and E James Street. It housed 174 students in grades 1-3 for little over one year in order to alleviate overcrowding at T.T. Minor School.

A permanent Walla Walla School was a Colonial Revival structure, based on the “model school” plan developed by James Stephen. The design included an addition to the north side of the school, but this plan was never realized. The school resembled Green Lake School built a year earlier.

In 1921, the Seattle School Board renamed the school Horace Mann, after the “Father of Free Schools.” Mann was a lifelong proponent of universal public education, which he felt was essential for democracy.

Kindergarten was added in 1931. From 1926 to 1938, Horace Mann School operated with a platoon system for children in grades 5-8 in which they spent about half of each day in a homeroom and attended other classes elsewhere in the building. September 1938 saw the relocation of the 7th and 8th grades to an 8th grade center at Washington School.

Enrollment peaked in 1957-58 with 596 students. By 1965-66, it was down to 252, and the school was closed at the end of the1967-68 school year.

During 1970-71, the building was used as extra space for Garfield High School projects and offices. From 1970-75, the building also housed the Extended Services Program (ESP), an alternative program for grades 9-12 developed by the Central Area community and the district. It provided more individualized instruction and attention than was possible in the regular school setting. Additionally, it gave students who had dropped out or who had been suspended a chance to continue their education. In 1975, ESP became GAP (the Garfield Alternative Program). That September, an alternative high school called Nova joined GAP at Mann. Summit K-12 was at Mann from fall 1977 through spring 1979, when it moved to Colman.

Nova at the Edmond S. Meany Building

In the 2009-2010 school year the high school relocated to the Meany Building where it continues to operate at 300 20th Avenue East, Seattle, WA 98112. Its goal is to be a democratically governed learning community of broadly educated, creative, and independent thinkers who work collaboratively and demonstrate a high degree of individual responsibility.

For more about our school, see About Us