by Borderstan Contributor July 28, 2016 at 1:45 pm 4 Comments

Workers at Garrison Elementary School

Borderstan periodically publishes opinion pieces from our readers. Have something you want to share with Borderstan’s readers? Email us at [email protected].

by Elizabeth Nicoletti

In January of 2015, a last-minute parent fundraising campaign spearheaded by a resourceful singe-mother raised $2,000 in just 3 weeks from Garrison Elementary families. Donations brought in Capital Movement, a DC-based, women-owned dance studio that understood our financial limitations. Students had two hip-hop classes a week, and in June, parents attended their yearend recital.

For many watching, it was heartwarming and hilarious as rambunctious preschoolers tried hard to follow the dance steps. For me as a parent, the recital provided a sense of peace. Peace in the fact I worked and, while I did, that my son was learning and being exposed to experiences that I alone could never provide.

As a working mom, I know I am not alone. Caring for children after the 3:15 pm school day is a source of psychological and financial stress for many. With 48 percent of the school population living in shelters or classified as “at risk” by DCPS, there are parents dealing with a far more worrying reality than I know. Parents who work or study often grapple with the costs and benefits of their life decisions on their children’s well-being.

Garrison has a chance to solve this. The video above may not show it, but getting to this well-choreographed routine was no easy path.

After losing a grant for aftercare funding in October of 2015 with little notice, Garrison students were left with low coverage ratios and zero programming. The principal and the Parent-Teacher Organization (PTO) worked to patch a program together to finish the year. For the 2016-2017 school year, the PTO led an effort with the school administration to find a private aftercare provider that ensured better ratios, safety and enrichment. We look forward to welcoming Apollo After School in August.

To ensure equitable access to high-quality aftercare, we have launched a community crowdfunding campaign. Our PTO website will recognize local businesses and community members that participate as champions for education.

Funding will go to programming like dance classes and to scholarships for working, low-income families. Families qualifying for Medicaid will be able to access the program without paying the monthly fee, however many families are caught in the middle. They earn too much to qualify for a DCPS subsidy but not enough to pay programs costs.

An enriching aftercare program will further transform Garrison. Aftercare is part of the virtuous cycle that keeps school enrollment rates up, enhances school day programming and can even lead to higher test scores — Garrison’s core challenges.

Additional money raised will provide enrichment for older grades, such as field trips to Philadelphia for 4th graders or tablets to help kids with autism learn in our special education classes. Garrison has one of the highest percentage of special needs students in DCPS. 

If you pass by Garrison elementary on S Street, you will notice bulldozers, cement piled high and men in hard hats sweating in the summer heat. The ground is literally breaking at Garrison. And for good reason. After a lengthy political process, our modernization dollars arrived and are hard at work.

But the challenge of improving this school does not end with a modern facility. We are reaching out to the community to break new ground. It seems only fair to strengthen the elementary school at the epicenter of so much social and economic change. The ripple effects of doing so will benefit far more than just the students. The more schools thrive, the more the communities that support them thrive too.

I invite you to be a part of this virtuous cycle. Please join us in our campaign to bring equitable, high-quality education to your neighborhood.

Tax-deductible donations can also be made by Venmo to [email protected] or check to Garrison PTO, Garrison Elementary School, 1200 S St. NW.

Nicoletti is a Garrison Elementary School parent.

Photo via Facebook/GarrisonES

by Tim Regan June 10, 2016 at 10:05 am 0

(Updated at 12:03 p.m.) Garrison Elementary School students and their families have an extra reason to celebrate today.

The D.C. Council voted to pass a ceremonial resolution introduced by Councilmember Jack Evans earlier this week to officially designate June 10, 2016, as a day to honor the school and its namesake, abolitionist and journalist William Lloyd Garrison.

“The staff, parents, and neighbors of Garrison Elementary have created a fabulous and supportive community at the school that I was happy to recognize with a D.C. Council resolution,” Evans said in a statement to Borderstan. “Garrison Day was a huge success and will continue to be a wonderful tradition as we work to modernize and strengthen Garrison Elementary.”

The school at 1200 S St. NW holds a “Garrison Day” event each year with games, food and activities. “This has been an ongoing tradition at our school,” said Garrison PTO treasurer Ayako Sato.

Read a draft of the resolution below:


by Tim Regan May 18, 2016 at 10:30 am 0

Photo courtesy of Garrison PTOLocal parents and teachers will meet at Garrison Elementary School later this week to slam and jam during an exhibition dubbed the “battle of the century.”

The school at 1200 S St. NW will host a parent-versus-teacher basketball game on its basketball court this Friday at 4:30 p.m., according to Garrison PTO treasurer Ayako Sato.

“It should be lots of fun, and our cheerleaders will give a half-time show,” Sato said. “We’re also selling hot dogs and drinks, and Jamba Juice on Dupont will be there to sell smoothies and gift cards.”

And the event isn’t just for families of Garrison students. “We are hoping to get community involvement, and this is open to everyone in the neighborhood,” Sato added. “And we are really encouraging new, incoming families to attend to get to know current Garrison families.”

All proceeds from the event will go toward funding school field trips.

Photo via Garrison Elementary School PTO

by Borderstan Contributor May 9, 2016 at 2:25 pm 1 Comment

Garrison Elementary School (Photo via Facebook/GarrisonES)

Borderstan periodically publishes opinion pieces from our readers. Have something you want to share with Borderstan’s readers? Email us at [email protected].

by Elizabeth Nicoletti

The green text bubble lit up on my iPhone, and I could see the words from across my kitchen counter, “Exciting news! We bought a new house!” The text came from close friends who live on our block. Our kids are similar ages, we all go to the local park regularly and twice a year we co-organize neighborhood events. However, their oldest is entering Pre-K, and they cannot commit to the local school.

The local school is Garrison Elementary School (1200 S St. NW). I decided to send my son to Garrison for numerous reasons — its high-quality teachers, curriculum, vicinity and diversity. Watching my son thrive in Garrison’s rich cultural bastion confirms my decision. At three years old, he is writing, reading and dancing ballet and hip-hop alongside his bright and eager classmates. However, I am constantly confronting shortcomings with the school’s structure. A reoccurring mouse infestation, a faulty heating and cooling system and acres of unusable athletic fields are distracting students and teachers from reaching their full potential. And they continue to weigh on parents’ conscience about whether this is the best setting for long-term success.

In 2010, D.C. Public Schools’ central office called for a Garrison modernization for 2014. When that never happened, Mayor Muriel Bowser, as Mayor Vincent Gray had done before her, reprogrammed Garrison’s modernization money and promised it would make Garrison whole in the 2016 budget cycle, which she did with $40 million. In May 2015, an amendment eliminated $20 million from that modernization. The school was left with only $20 million, which the Department of General Services has advised was insufficient. And now after two meetings at city hall, I still find the process for ensuring that remaining funds are efficiently and effectively deployed unclear and opaque.


by Tim Regan April 19, 2016 at 3:40 pm 0

Garrison School Modernization, photo via DCPSGarrison Elementary School’s (1200 S St. NW) long-awaited modernization project is scheduled to begin within months, according to officials with D.C. Public Schools.

The renovations will include “infrastructure work, a transformation of interior spaces, and the addition of elevators to increase second floor accessibility” over two phases of work, said DCPS Press Secretary Michelle Lerner.


by Tim Regan November 30, 2015 at 10:45 am 0

Frozen Yogurt and Wine, photo courtesy of Garrison ElementaryLocals will be able to buy booze and eat frozen yogurt to help Garrison Elementary students today.

Gallagher and Graham Fine Spirits and Menchie’s Frozen Yogurt (both near U Street at 1939 12th St. NW) will donate 10 percent of all sales to Garrison Elementary.

In addition to selling craft beer, wine and local liquor, Gallagher and Graham will also host a wine tasting at 5:30 p.m. with cheese samples from D.C. producer Righteous Cheese.

Both stores will stay open for business until 10 p.m. tonight.

by Tim Regan September 15, 2015 at 12:00 pm 0

Garrison_VolunteersGarrison Elementary School (1200 S St. NW) is seeking volunteers for its annual Green Apple Day of Service event this Sunday at 3 p.m.

The national event, organized by the Center for Green Schools at the U.S. Green Building Council, encourages local schools and communities “to make a difference in the quality of our children’s physical environment.”

Volunteers will help spruce up the school’s gardens and do general work outside during the event. Attendees are encouraged to wear clothes they don’t mind getting dirty and to bring work gloves if they have them.

Click here to RSVP for the volunteer opportunity.

by Sean Meehan September 3, 2015 at 12:30 pm 0

There may not be any troops at Garrison Elementary near Logan Circle, but this week there was a war.

The annual Garrison Elementary School Lemonade War pits fourth and fifth graders in the extended day before- and after-school program against each other to see who can sell the most lemonade.

The contest was inspired by the book “The Lemonade War” by Jacqueline Davies, which teaches business and economic concepts through a narrative about two siblings trying to out-sell each other in the competitive lemonade stand market.

The students in each grade were given $20 to buy supplies for their lemonade stands and were tasked with setting prices and selling the lemonade before and after school in front of Garrison Elementary at 1200 S St. NW.

The students also had to decide how much of their proceeds to re-invest in more lemonade and how much to keep. Whichever grade has the most money at the end of the week will be the winner, and both classes will get to decide how to spend the money they raised, according to Garrison principal Collin Hill.

Each grade took different strategies for their stands: The fourth graders went for variety, with small medium and large sized lemonade available, while the fifth graders adopted somewhat of a franchising strategy, stationing lemonade sellers in front of the school and at the playground behind the school.

A fourth grader who was pouring lemonade from a pitcher bigger than his head said on Wednesday that the class decided on the prices of the lemonade by taking a vote. Meanwhile, a fifth grader just feet away used a megaphone to assure passers-by that his grade’s lemonade was better.

Teachers were on hand to monitor the students but did not intervene with any business operations, leaving them to calculate change and serve customers themselves.

Who won and how much each grade has raised will be known on Friday, as the students had yet to count the cash filling their boxes. But it’s safe to assume the real victors of this crash course in capitalism were the paying customers.

by Sean Meehan August 24, 2015 at 3:40 pm 0

garrison2Garrison Elementary School will hold an outdoor yoga class this Saturday to raise money for extracurricular field trips and arts events.

The yoga class will take place at the school (1200 S St. NW) from 9-10 a.m. The class is $20 and participants must register online by this Thursday to secure a spot. All those who reserve a spot will be entered to win five free classes from Shaw Yoga.

Attendants will also get free water and apple juice courtesy of Costco, granola courtesy of Michele’s Granola of Maryland, and lip balm from Fabulous Frannie.

Garrison’s Parent Teacher Organization hopes to use funds raised to support a Saturday art workshop that it plans to launch this school year in partnership with Wolf Trap.

Image courtesy of Garrison Elementary

by June 13, 2013 at 9:00 am 1 Comment

From David McAuley. Email him at david[AT]


Garrison Elementary School. (Luis Gomez Photos)

At its regular monthly meeting last week, Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC) 2F/Logan Circle Commissioner Matt Connelly, 2F-08, reported good news and bad news for Garrison Elementary School (1200 S Street NW). The good news is that money to begin a long-delayed renovation of the school had been found in the DC budget, and the push to find more money is continuing.

The bad news is that sink holes are opening up in the school’s fields. Engineers were hired to study the holes and recommend action.

They completed their study. But the engineers will not release their findings. The reason: DC’s Department of General Services is refusing to pay the engineers.

“Government at its finest,” remarked ANC 2F Chair Matt Raymond, 2F-07.

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by June 5, 2013 at 8:00 am 0

From David McAuley. Email him at david[AT]


Gretchen Pfaehler at the Anderson House Ballroom. (David McAuley)

“We need to listen to the community,” said Gretchen Pfaehler, chair of DC’s Historic Preservation Review Board (HPRB) last Monday, June 3. Pfaehler addressed the Dupont Circle Citizens Association (DCCA) at its regular monthly meeting. The meeting was in the Anderson House Ballroom of the Society of the Cincinnati, 2118 Massachusetts Avenue NW.

Public Comment on Historic Preservation

The HPRB and its associated agency, the Historic Preservation Office (HPO), will, through June 24, accept public comment on a major revision to its outline of goals, policies and challenges for historic preservation.

Pfaehler said that some of the major themes that are emerging from public comments are that the agencies must have a “more forceful and convincing message” and also must be “open to new possibilities.”

“It’s been a little too much time since we really heard what you [the community] have to say,” Pfaehler said.

Pfaehler also said she was disturbed by other comments she had heard. Some members of the public told her that, once the public hears about HPRB activity, “the deal is already done,” and it is too late for public input.

“We are working with staff to be far more transparent,” Pfaehler said.

In April 2013, the HPRB and the HPO were the subjects of a sharply critical resolution passed by Advisory Neighborhood Commission 2B/Dupont. The resolution took the agencies to task for ineffective enforcement, lack of coordination with ANCs, unfair reporting and a cumbersome appeal process.

Opposition to Food Truck Regulations

After Pfaehler’s remarks, the DCCA moved on to other business. Communications Committee Chair Susan Volman told the committee that 162 members of the DCCA had been sent an email survey on food truck regulations. Fifty-one people responded to the “unscientific” survey, Volman reported, of whom 71% opposed food truck regulations. Some respondents who opposed the regulations said that the new regulations were an unnecessary blanket on an economic sector that was just emerging.

DCCA Joins Support for Accelerated Garrison Renovation

The DCCA joined ANC 2B and 2F/Logan Circle, as well as many other community groups, in urging more money sooner for the renovation of Garrison Elementary School (1200 S Street). The group passed a resolution asking that the renovation be financed in its entirety in DC’s 2014 budget, rather than piecemeal starting in 2014 and then extending into 2015 and later years, possibly as late as 2022. Supporters of Garrison have been actively lobbying to get the original three-phase plan for Garrison’s renovation collapsed into a single project. Garrison has not had a renovation since 1964.

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by May 13, 2013 at 11:00 am 0


Garrison Elementary School. (Luis Gomez Photos)

Last week Garrison Elementary had two events in which neighbors could help the modernization fund for the school.Then DC City Council Education Committee Chair David Catania (I-At Large) announced last week that resources had been identified that will help speed up the first phase of the modernization project.

Councilmember Jim Graham (D-Ward 1) said, “I will support expediting that funding to support Garrison.”

Budget Chair Councilmember Jack Evans (D-Ward 2) is also supporting Garrison: “I have vowed to make Garrison the gem of a neighborhood school that it should be. The funding I was able to secure for the field renovations last year was a first step, stopping it from closing was next and making sure that the renovations take place in an expeditious manner is part of that commitment.”

Original Timeline was Nine-Year Plan

The original plan of modernization of the school including three phases through 2022. Ann McLeod, Garrison PTA president said, “This is just unacceptable! The school has not been updated since it was originally built in 1964 and its facilities rank among the worst in the district.  The $8 million is a great start. But the Garrison community, led by the PTA, will continue pushing for a full modernization by 2015, as we have been all along.”

In May a resolution was passed by ANC 2F and ANC 2B asking that the City Council appropriate $16 million to fully fund Garrison’s modernization in Fiscal Year 2014 to allow for a complete modernization.

Last year Garrison Elementary School was saved from closure, now it has to be renovated. Garrison is located 1200 S Street NW and serves elementary school for children in both Wards 1 and 2. The school hasn’t been renovated since 1964.

The Deputy Mayor for Education Plan recommends that schools in Garrison’s situation not be approached in phases. “A mere Phase 1 does not address the exterior of the building, which is a huge deterrent to enrollment, in all likelihood does not address ADA compliance, and does not encourage a coordinated approach to improve its 4.5 acres of outdoor space,” Garrison Improvement Project Chair Vanessa Bertelli points out. “It’s time for DC to show it can act as One City and fund the full modernization of a school that has the space and the grounds to be this community’s centerpiece.”

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by May 8, 2013 at 8:00 am 0

From David McAuley. Email him at david[AT]


Garrison Elementary School at 1200 S Street NW. (Luis Gomez Photos)

Last year Garrison Elementary School was saved from closure, now it has to be renovated. This week, you have two opportunities to help make it happen.

Tonight at 6:30 pm, Garrison will have its monthly community meeting at the school, 1200 S Street NW. On the agenda will be the plans for a major renovation of the school, plus information about its Spanish-language, arts, music and after-school programs. Babysitting will be provided, plus cake and ice-cream to thank the community for its role in keeping Garrison open.

Can’t make it tonight? On Saturday at 9:30 am, join the conversation with Abigail Smith, DC’s newly-appointed Deputy Mayor for Education, at Luther Place Memorial Church, 1226 Vermont Avenue. The meeting will address a wide range of educational issues and the Garrison renovation is bound to be one of them.

The Logan Circle Community Association is hosting the meeting as part of its “Saturdays in Logan Circle” series. This meeting is co-sponsored by the Dupont Circle Citizens Association and two Advisory Neighborhood Commissions (ANCs) 2B/Dupont and 2F/Logan.

Garrison Elementary School has not had a renovation since 1964. The renovation, after three delays, was planned to start in 2014, but there is no money for it in the DC school budget until 2015. This past week, ANC 2F passed a resolution asking the DC Council to find $16 million dollars to fully fund the Garrison renovation.

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by March 26, 2013 at 2:00 pm 0

From Rachel Nania. Check out her blog, Sear, Simmer & Stir. Follow Nania on Twitter @rnania, email her at rachel[AT]


Students from Ross Elementary are some of the kids that will be affected by cuts to Fillmore Arts Center. (Luis Gomez Photos)

The DC Department of Public Schools’ (DCPS) 2013-2014 budget includes cuts to the Fillmore Arts Center that leave the program “with no hope of viability,” the Friends of Fillmore group says.

Fillmore — part of the DC Public School system — provides classes, workshops and summer programs in dance, music, theater, visual arts, creative writing and media arts to more than 3,500 DC Public School students each year. The students who benefit from the programs are pulled from Garrison, Hearst, Houston, Hyde, Key, Raymond, Ross, Stoddert and River Terrace schools.

According to Friends of Fillmore — the PTA group who started a petition in response to the cuts — per-pupil funding at the school has dropped by 40 percent in the last four years. The latest round of cuts will force Fillmore’s principal to eliminate four of the five full-time teaching positions that remain at the arts school.

Friends of Fillmore is asking DC Public Schools Chancellor Kaya Henderson to restore $300,000 to Fillmore’s budget for next year. This amount would restore the school’s budget to about what it was in the 2011-2012 school year.

“You need to remember that instruction in different areas of art don’t just make artists, it makes flexible, creative thinkers with critical minds ready to problem solve,” says Kelly Richmond, board chair of Friends of Fillmore, in a letter. “Arts training builds student confidence, perseverance, focus and dedication. These children will be asked to collaborate, work with constructive feedback and express themselves non-verbally when they learn in the arts. All skills I want in my future neighbors, employees, mortgage bankers, librarians, bus drivers, frankly anybody I encounter. Don’t you?”

So far, the petition has more than 600 signatures of support. Fillmore Arts Center has been active for more than 30 years. It operates two locations, including one at 1819 35th Street NW and one at 915 Spring Road NW.

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by December 17, 2012 at 11:00 am 1,688 0


Garrison Elementary School at 12th and S Streets NW. (Luis Gomez Photos)

From Rachel Nania. Check out her blog, Sear, Simmer & Stir. Follow Nania on Twitter @rnania, email her at rachel[AT] 

In preparation for the December 18 meeting with DC Public Schools Chancellor Kaya Henderson, the Garrison PTA will compile results from a recent survey administered to the community.

The results will help to guide a counter-proposal to the school consolidation proposal, announced by DC Public Schools on November 13.

The survey asks for input from potential parents of students, current parents of students and members of the community.

“We are committed to ensuring that our proposal reflect the desires of the entire community,” said Ann McLeod, president of the Garrison PTA. “People can complete the survey on-line, and we’ll have folks walking throughout the neighborhood to talk with individuals one-on-one, as we know not everyone has internet access or a computer. Someone we’ve not had a chance to talk with directly just might come up with the one thing that can save our school, so we’ve got to make sure we hear all the ideas that we can.”

In addition to the survey results, the counter-proposal will also include suggestions for a full modernization of the school, a plan that was originally scheduled to start in 2012. The purpose of the plan, called the Garrison Improvement Project, is to retain current students and attract prospective families to the school. The Garrison Improvement Project would also improve the community and the grounds for community use.

“Garrison’s building and outdoor facilities are in sore need of an update – they’ve not seen improvement for decades,” said McLeod. “We understood we were scheduled for Phase I modernization in 2012, which somehow got pushed back to 2014. We knew that many Ward 3 schools were successful in fast-tracking their modernizations, and we undertook this effort to have the same thing happen at Garrison.”

For more information on the survey or the Save Garrison initiative, contact Ann McLeod at ann_mcleod[AT] or follow @GarrisonPTA on Twitter.

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