George Washington University Students Makeover Four D.C. Ward 8 Public Schools in Honor of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day
WASHINGTON-More than 500 members of The George Washington University, GW President Steven Knapp, U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, White House Director of Domestic Policy Melody Barnes, Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton, Ward 8 Councilmember Marion Barry and local cultural arts organization, Guerilla Arts Ink, celebrated the vision of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. today by sprucing up five public high schools in southeast D.C.
(Media-Newswire.com) - WASHINGTON—More than 500 members of The George Washington University, GW President Steven Knapp, U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, White House Director of Domestic Policy Melody Barnes, Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton, Ward 8 Councilmember Marion Barry and local cultural arts organization, Guerilla Arts Ink, celebrated the vision of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. today by sprucing up five public high schools in southeast D.C. Students and participating volunteers painted murals, designed word art, painted walls and play grounds, cleaned and organized rooms and washed tables, windows, desks at Ballou Senior High School, Ballou Stay School, MC Terrell/McCogney Elementary School, Stanton Elementary School and Moten at Wilkinson Elementary.
“I am proud that so many George Washington University students, staff and faculty have devoted this day to serving our neighbors throughout the District of Columbia," said GW President Steven Knapp. "By coming together to improve our community and strengthen our schools, they are truly upholding the legacy of Dr. King.”
While the rest of the nation enjoyed a day off, GW students were ‘on.’ Bustling about D.C.’s Ward 8, volunteers built bulletin boards, installed coat hooks in classrooms and repainted playground yard lines at Stanton Elementary. They painted inspirational murals at Ballou High School and Ballou Stay. Volunteers also painted murals for the professional learning communities at Moten at Wilkenson Elementary. Ballou Senior High School and its neighboring community have great recreation and learning facilities, and through the service of GW and Ballou High School students, these resources are now more accessible and welcoming to students and neighbors.
U.S. Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood, along with members of the U.S. Department of Transportation ( DOT ), joined in the day’s service efforts. Beginning last school year, DOT began working closely with Ballou Senior High School to launch an internship program for graduating seniors. According to Ruth Jones, director of Resource Development at Ballou High School, 100 percent of the seniors who graduated are now in college and are looking forward to returning each winter break and summer to intern with DOT supervisors. The Federally Employed Women’s Chapter at the U.S. DOT also provides group mentoring for Ballou students.
"On this day when we remember Dr. King's commitment to service, I am thrilled to join these students and DOT employees to give back to the schools that play such a vital role in all of our communities," said Secretary LaHood. "These students are the future leaders of our country, and we're proud to contribute in any way we can to their education and success."
According to data by the District of Columbia Public Schools ( DCPS ), Ward 8 is one of, if not the number one struggling area in Washington, D.C. It has the highest rate of poverty, children in poverty, unemployment and residents without a high school diploma. Ward 8’s school system is no exception to the difficulties. All of the schools involved in today’s service efforts are Title I schools. The U.S. Department of Education defines a Title I institution as under-achieving, under-staffed and under-resourced. Title I of the Elementary and Secondary Act of 1965 or No Child Left Behind ( NCLB ) seeks to improve the Academic Achievement of the Disadvantaged.
“I often reflect on Dr. King’s dream for educational equality and its focus on equal access to exemplary programs and facilities for all children,” said Ballou High School Principal Rahman Branch. “In celebrating Dr. King’s birthday, I am especially thankful to the volunteers from George Washington University and Guerilla Arts Professionals for collaborating so thoughtfully with Ballou Senior High School to honor Dr. King's vision for educational equality and to continue working toward the dream.”
Today’s event is part of a larger ongoing effort by Guerilla Arts Ink. The community-based organization specializes in innovative education, cultural arts programming and professional development throughout Washington, D.C.
“It is both ironic and appropriate that we have all come together here - on the corner of Martin Luther King, Jr. Ave. in southeast D.C.,” said Gabriel “Asheru” Benn, founder of Guerilla Arts Professionals. “This is a day that we celebrate his birthday, to be active and continue in Dr. King’s legacy of ‘The Dream’ and actively being the change that we want to see.”
Since 2001, GW has recognized Martin Luther King, Jr. Day as a day of service and commitment to community. For Councilmember Barry, the memories of Dr. King and his vision stretch several decades.
"I marched with Dr. King and went to jail with him to fight for freedom, justice and equality,” said Councilmember Barry. Therefore his birthday is not just a holiday; it is a personal time for me to remember the dream.”
This year’s day of service is a part of GW’s week-long celebration of Dr. King. Last Thursday, the university recognized six members of the GW community as stewards of Dr. King’s vision as they received the 24th annual MLK Jr. Award. Tomorrow, Jan. 18, the university’s Multicultural Student Services Center ( MSSC ) will host a day of MLK Speeches at Kogan Plaza; and an MLK oratory contest will take place on Thursday, Jan. 20. E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org for more information on these events.
Located in the heart of the nation's capital, the George Washington University was created by an Act of Congress in 1821. Today, GW is the largest institution of higher education in Washington, D.C. The University offers comprehensive programs of undergraduate and graduate liberal arts study as well as degree programs in medicine, public health, law, engineering, education, business and international affairs. Each year, GW enrolls a diverse population of undergraduate, graduate and professional students from all 50 states, the District of Columbia and more than 130 countries.
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