Anacostia High School

Anacostia Voices is written by Paul Penniman. In 2003, Paul founded Resources for Inner city CHildren, RICH, which provides tutoring and mentoring services to Anacostia High School and the Cesar Chavez Public Charter School-Capitol Hill.

Paul previously shared Travis’ Essay “The history of me” a year ago.

Travis and I had just gotten into the car for the drive back from Greensboro after his day and a half orientation at North Carolina A&T when he uttered those words regarding his going to college. He doesn’t know anyone in his neighborhood, known as “Lench Mob,” who are going to or who have graduated from college. He is a first generation college attendee, as are D and W, MATHletes all, whom RICH has been working with since freshman year of high school. Travis is excited but nervous, D is jumping out of his skin to start at Morehouse College, and W is incredibly nervous as he approaches the day I leave him at South Carolina State.

It has been an amazing journey for these three scholars. They have endured abuse, neglect, and loss throughout their childhoods. Their teachers at Anacostia High School and members of the RICH staff are some of the steadiest adults in their lives. It will be an awesome experience to help deliver them all of them to their respective campuses.

Historically, 3% of Anacostia students have finished college. Since the terrific Achievers Program has started, that number has jumped to about 15%. RICH is committing resources to help Travis, W, and D finish college, as well as many others. As RICH’s community ages, we need to make sure we don’t say good-bye to them at high school graduation.

One of our first scholars, a boy who attended Maya Angelou and then Virginia Tech, has invited me to his wedding in the fall down South. Seeing him achieve another milestone in his life will give me the opportunity to visit the three MATHletes who are beginning the achievement of their next milestone. As our staff repeatedly tells me, many of whom have taught in many schools and school settings, “This is the most rewarding work we have ever done.”

From an email:

“Outrageous/Detrimental District Emergency Legislation

What: Developer Seeking Exemptions in Ward 8 Historic District — can set precedent for other historic communities & has far reaching implications

Legislative Hearing Date: April 8, 2014

Emergency Big K Legislation to City Council

This District emergency resolution attached above is not acceptable. It is targeted at present, to the residential development proposed at the commercial corridor on Martin Luther King Jr Ave, SE. Which is also in the Historic District.

It’s content is based on unfounded fear mongering, and is beneath the City and pandering. Near term development along the Historic District of Martin Luther King Jr Ave, SE is inevitable and occurring. Language in the Resolution is attempting to create poor, substandard outcomes with old, stale facts.

Where developers want to establish affordable housing developments in historic districts, to preserve the City’s heritage, they must be compelled to accomplish the developments within the reasonable historic guidelines. Passage of the legislative, as is, has the potential to alter the landscape of the historic district. The present language is sweeping and broad. (more…)


From the Mayor’s Office:

“Mayor Gray and other officials today announced a plan to invest approximately $300 million in a brand-new hospital on the St. Elizabeths East Campus designed to replace the aging District-owned United Medical Center (UMC) on Southern Avenue SE.

Mayor Gray said the plan was the most sensible one to follow to ensure both the availability of high-quality medical care on the East End of the District and the fiscal health of the District – with the added bonus of helping to catalyze further economic development on the historic St. Elizabeths East Campus.

“We know how imperative it is for us to have a full-service hospital on the East End of our city – and, in 2010, the District took control of what is now known as United Medical Center,” Mayor Gray said. “However, it has been difficult for the District to own and operate United Medical Center in a way that is fiscally responsible. Frankly, unless we take decisive action, the hospital will continue to be a ‘money pit’ for District taxpayers.”

He noted that, in the last decade, District taxpayers have spent at least $160 million in subsidies for the current UMC – with no end in sight.

“Unless we have the courage and vision to act decisively now to solve the problem once and for all, the hospital will fail – and the District will have spent all these hundreds of millions of dollars without anything to show for our efforts,” Mayor Gray said. “I have come to the conclusion that building an entirely new hospital on the St. Elizabeths campus makes the most sense for the District in the long run.”

Mayor Gray listed several reasons for investing in a new hospital rather than capital improvements at the current UMC facility:

· Even after making a minimum of a $100 million capital investment in the nearly 50-year-old facility, the District would still be forced to cover $6-8 million annually in facilities maintenance – twice what a new facility would cost in maintenance costs;

· Investing in the current site does not offer the District a meaningful rebranding opportunity for the hospital;

· The current site is not Metro-accessible;

· And none of this investment would meaningfully increase the chances of the District attracting a high-quality operating partner for the hospital.

Mayor Gray contended that, while more costly in the short run, building an entirely new United Medical Center at St. Elizabeths would provide the most long-term advantages as well as a long-term solution to the problem of maintaining high-quality medical services east of the Anacostia River:

· It would allow the District to begin implementing its plans for long-term reform much more quickly than investing in the current United Medical Center campus;

· It would provide a brand-new, state-of-the-art facility – affording the District a major rebranding opportunity and the potential for significantly increased market share that goes along with it;

· It would cut the ongoing costs for facility maintenance and improvement in half;

· The site would offer much better access to public transportation from across Wards 7 and 8 as well as other parts of the area;

· It would greatly strengthen the likelihood of attracting a high-quality operating partner for the hospital;

· And it would further catalyze economic development on the St. Elizabeths campus, serving as yet another focus to attract subsidiary offices, dining, and retail options to service the thousands of employees and visitors for the new hospital.

The Mayor included a feasibility study for the project in his Fiscal Year 2014 Budget. His Fiscal Year 2015 Budget will include $20 million for the design of the new hospital, while the $300 million for its construction would be divided among the three following fiscal years ($93 million each in Fiscal Years 2016 and 2017, and the remaining $114 million in Fiscal Year 2018).

The District government would seek to identify an operating partner prior to breaking ground on the hospital, leveraging it as part of the partnership negotiations and allowing the partner input into construction decisions.”


From an email:

“DC Lo-Fi
Anacostia Arts Center
1231 Good Hope Road SE
Washington DC 20020

Saturday, February 15, 2014

A new show from DC-based photographer Michael K. Wilkinson, “DC Lo-Fi,” seeks to capitalize on two points of familiarity to many city residents: urban vignettes focused on the disappearing signs of an ever-aging yet ever-changing city, and the ubiquitous square format of Instagram with its instantly recognizable filters.

The photographer, a Washington DC resident for over 20 years, has selected a range of scenes for the show, some of which would be recognized by astute observers of the city, and others which just resonate with a certain locationless urban sensibility.

“Part of the poignancy of the project, for me,” Wilkinson says, “is the fact that, as a professional photographer, I’m no longer using film, or even my digital SLR for that matter, to express myself artistically. Instead, I yank the iPhone out of my pocket and snap things I see as I’m walking around the city, then throw a couple images into Instagram, which cross-posts to flickr, Tumblr and Facebook. Within seconds, the feedback starts to roll in, one ‘ding’ at a time.

“In the age of the mobile device, you accomplish In a matter of minutes what it used to take weeks or even months to do when we shot on film, printed in darkrooms and hustled for gallery shows.”

Printed on ultra-high gloss metal surfaces ranging in size from 8×8 to 30×30 inches, the images in the show bridge the gap gorgeously between the ephemeral “social-digital” format and the permanence of a piece of art on the walls. Both the subject matter and the medium will strike viewers with a particularly strong currency and resonance, hitting nerves on both a new/hi-gloss-modern-mobile-culture level and a gritty, fast-disappearing urban-pioneer level.

Michael K. Wilkinson ( is an architectural photographer based in Washington DC. He has participated in over 30 one-man and group shows over the past 20 years. He has been an avid iPhone photographer since the day his carrier, Verizon, began offering the device on its network, but is and will always be amazed that he can take photographs with a telephone.”


Anacostia High School

Anacostia Voices is written by Paul Penniman. In 2003, Paul founded Resources for Inner city CHildren, RICH, which provides tutoring and mentoring services to Anacostia High School and the Cesar Chavez Public Charter School-Capitol Hill.

Hi everyone,

Thank you for your interesting comments about “Number 1 and “Number 2″. To give you a sense of how much our kids in Anacostia are learning, three “home-grown” students, those of whom have gone to Anacostia neighborhood schools throughout childhood, have scored 800 or higher on the SAT (math + reading, or math + verbal for us old folks). “Number 2″ is one of those students. There are eight other kids who transferred to Anacostia High School in the eleventh or twelfth grade who also have that distinction. “Number 1″ is one of those students. The good news about this gap is our kids can do a lot of catching up freshman year. Paul Tough addresses this issue toward the end of his excellent book, “How Children Succeed.”

To all the Spelman alums who have expressed interest: Your alum support system is phenomenal, and we will continue to make good use of it!

Some of you have wondered about ensuring the success of these kids when they get to college. We do have a dedicated budget for this, but if you would like to enhance it, or donate for any other of our programs, click here and in the comment section you can specify your donation (or not). Thank you in advance, and I hope all in PoPville have a relaxing and fulfilling holiday season.

Below is an interesting essay written by one of the other two home-grown 800+ kids. I hope you enjoy it although it is a little disturbing:

I’m from Southeast Washington DC, perhaps one of the worst places to live in the U.S. The crime here is phenomenal, and to experience drug dealing and murders first hand is unbearable. When you compare this side of the city to the other quadrants like NE or NW geographically it’s so different, I mean the culture changes, the way people treat each other is different. Once you cross into Ancostia it’s a whole new world, the increase of Black/African Americans sky rockets. There are abandoned houses and buildings everywhere, trash all over the place, and a good amount of homeless folk. It’s like the rest of the city literally drew a line between us and them saying “We don’t want anything to do with those people”. It’s almost like they just don’t care. (more…)

Separate and Unequaled: Black Baseball in the District of Columbia:

“November 14 @ 6:30 pm – 9:00 pm
Smithsonian Anacostia Community Museum
1901 Fort Place SE

Explore the history of Negro Leagues baseball during an evening with Bob Kendrick, President of the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum, Kansas City. Kendrick will discuss the achievements, significance, and demise of the Negro Leagues. This promises to be an informative and entertaining presentation for sports enthusiasts, historians, former players and their families, and anyone interested in baseball. For reservations, call 202-633-4844.”

Ed. Note: You can see all events here and you can schedule your own event listing here and you can edit your events here.

Anacostia High School

Anacostia Voices is written by Paul Penniman. In 2003, Paul founded Resources for Inner city CHildren, RICH, which provides tutoring and mentoring services to Anacostia High School and the Cesar Chavez Public Charter School-Capitol Hill.

Hi everyone,

This week I want to profile the girls at Anacostia High School with the top two GPA’s, whom I’ll call “Number 1” and “Number 2.” Number 1 came to Anacostia from another school in town and immediately stood out for her inquisitiveness and hard work. It is a cliché to say the first few words that come to mind when describing her, but those words are “relentless,” “fearless,” and “curious.” She plays volleyball and runs cross-country during the same seasons. Her teachers and coaches love her, and if she does not get a POSSE scholarship she will almost assuredly get another scholarship somewhere. POSSE scholars in the Washington, D.C. area attend one of six colleges: University of Rochester, University of the South at Sewanee, Bucknell University, Grinnell College, Lafayette College, and Wisconsin-Madison. She had virtually the highest SAT scores in her class (along with Travis, whom you might remember from earlier in the fall), but she decided to take our organization’s SAT class this fall and take the test two more times.

Number 2 is equally dogged, but perhaps less disciplined, than Number 1. She takes hard courses every year. In the tenth grade she was one of two students to get as high as a ‘2’ on the World History Advanced Placement Exam. (Travis was the other.) She is taking Advanced Placement English Language now and Advanced Placement U.S. Government. If calculus or physics were offered at the school, Number 2 would be there. She has always aspired to Spelman College, and she will be applying to a few other selective colleges as well. The school does not have a strong record of students’ gaining admission to selective colleges and universities—only one student in the last three years has gone off to a college that admits fewer than half of its applicants–but it is a real possibility for both Number 1 and Number 2. (more…)

Anacostia High School

Anacostia Voices is written by Paul Penniman. In 2003, Paul founded Resources for Inner city CHildren, RICH, which provides tutoring and mentoring services to Anacostia High School and the Cesar Chavez Public Charter School-Capitol Hill.

Hi everyone,

It’s close to the beginning of school, so I thought it might be enlightening to talk to three teachers who began their math teaching careers together at Anacostia High School in 2009 but who all left either in 2012 or 2013. Jack left after four years to go to graduate school; Abe left after four years to join the HEROS program at the DC College Success Foundation; and Ryan left after three years to continue teaching, but at a charter school elsewhere in D.C.

It should be noted that these three men had largely a negative experience and left, and their thoughts reflect that. However, Anacostia High School had a very high retention rate for teachers from last school year into this school year, over 80%.

This is a transcript of my conversation with Abe, Jack, and Ryan. (more…)

Anacostia High School

Anacostia Voices is written by Paul Penniman. In 2003, Paul founded Resources for Inner city CHildren, RICH, which provides tutoring and mentoring services to Anacostia High School and the Cesar Chavez Public Charter School-Capitol Hill.

Hello again everyone,

Travis was touched by your positive comments, and, yes, there will be some editing and paring down of his magnus opus!

As you can imagine, I’ve gotten to know Travis quite well.  I’ve actually gotten to know a lot of young men and women in my neighborhood on Howard Rd quite well.  What follows is my reflection on two of the boys that I wrote about a year ago.

Before I knew it, I had semi-adopted two teenage brothers who live two blocks away.  I first knew the older boy, identified as a top math student for our MATHlete program two years ago.   He is now an eleventh grader, and his brother is now a ninth grader.  When I moved into Anacostia last winter, I knew I would be closer to my students, but I didn’t know how close.

The relationship changed from merely student-teacher when the older one kept texting me that there wasn’t any food in their house, and could they come over.  Feeding picky teenagers is a new challenge for me, as my diet ranges from the Moosewood Cookbook to the Vegetarian Epicure with a little beer or wine thrown in occasionally.  Except for the Caesar’s salad (a “black” salad, the older boy jokes), I have not been able to get them to eat vegetables. (more…)