EducationLocal

D.C. Students Gear up For New School Year

This week, summer break came to a close for some young people in the District. By early September, most of them will have returned to, or gotten settled in, schools under new leadership, amid transformation, or a combination of both.

The focus for some, like Jarmar Jenkins, however, remains on putting their best foot forward.

Jarmar, a District resident and public charter school student returning to school in late August, said he’s looking forward to pursuing new extracurricular activities, challenging classes, and scholarship opportunities during his senior year. Fulfilling this vision, Jarmar said, will make up for a summer that didn’t go as planned.

“I’m considering running for student government and [being with] the football team,” said Jarmar, 17. “My goals are to go to an out-of-state college, or maybe the Air Force. I’ve wanted to do that since the 11th grade. I just do me, and do my best and see where that takes me. I wouldn’t say I’m wandering around, but I don’t have it all planned out. I’m seeing where the opportunities take me.”

The Howard University Class of 2023 arrives with their parents as the university rolls out the red carpet on Aug. 11. (Roy Lewis/The Washington Informer)
The Howard University Class of 2023 arrives with their parents as the university rolls out the red carpet on Aug. 11. (Roy Lewis/The Washington Informer)

This year, D.C.’s 93,000-plus K-12 students will navigate a playing field in which they’re nearly split evenly between the public and public charter schools. This happens months after the completion of what parents have described as a stressful MySchoolDC enrollment process.

Additionally, new students in public and public charter schools may likely have been formerly enrolled in now-shuttered public charter schools, including Democracy Prep Congress Heights in Southeast and City Arts + Prep Public Charter School in Northeast.

In what has become an annual event, students will receive their PARCC scores, on which school and city leaders will assess the quality of classroom instruction and school stewardship. Later this year, the DCPS central office will dole out an individualized Student Guide to Graduation, College, Career, which includes information about a student’s attendance, SAT and PSAT scores, community service hours completed, and GPA.

In order to satisfy students’ needs in other areas, community members and groups have hosted back-to-school events, especially after a summer where several young people lost their lives to gun violence. On Sunday, 150 children, including those related to the late Karon Brown, visited Six Flags America as part of a trip organized by Ron Moten and India Blocker-Ford.

On Aug. 24, the Thurgood Marshall Center Trust will host its annual Back-to-School festival at its Shaw/U Street headquarters. Activities and resources include haircuts and styling, backpack and school supply giveaways, health screenings and presentations about tutoring and teen dating violence.

For Stacey Palmer, Back-to-School Festival initiator and organizer, the backpack and school supply giveaway counts as the most important aspect of the program, primarily because it helps families set the foundation for a productive school year.

“So many children don’t have the proper school supplies,” she said. “It’s hard for parents with children in multiple grade levels. When [students are not] prepared, they might feel ashamed.”

Palmer also explaining future plans around family engagement.

“We’re aiming to do a school supply bank [because] people often do festivals in August and September and it goes away,” she said. “We’re hoping to keep children and parents connected, supported and lifted during the year.”

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