Even though DC Public Schools (DCPS) announced the closing of 20 schools nearly two weeks ago, Borderstan residents, parents, fauclty and community members still remain shocked by one on the list: Garrison Elementary.
The school at 1200 S Street NW, is home to 237 students in the Logan Circle/U Street neighborhood in Ward 2.
The plan, which also proposes closing two additional schools in Ward 2, including Shaw at Garnet-Patterson Middle School (2001 10th Street NW) and Francis-Stevens Educational Campus (2425 N Street NW), aims to consolidate schools to better utilize the city’s facilities and to work more efficiently.
“We have too many schools that are too small to support our students’ needs,” said DC Public Schools (DCPS) Chancellor Kaya Henderson in video promoting the plan.
However, parents, community members and faculty at Garrison do not feel the same way.
Reaction from Parents, Public Officials
“I am just extremely disappointed and confused by the whole thing,” said Jeff Shank, a parent to a preschool student at Garrison. “I feel like [closing Garrison] was not well thought out.”
Since Henderson’s announcement, a petition opposing the closing of Garrison has received more than 375 signatures, Ward 2 Councilmember Jack Evans made a public statement of disapproval and letters of opposition from ANC 1B and ANC 2F have been sent to Mayor Vincent Gray and Henderson.
“What doesn’t make sense is why they would close an elementary school in an area that is experiencing such a big growth in population,” said Sara Williams, another parent at Garrison and a seven-year Logan Circle resident.
Garrison is currently close to full capacity, and DCPS projects the neighborhood will see an increase of at least 125 children by 2015.
“We’ve seen the change in the neighborhood and the growing number of families, and [closing Garrison] seems very short-sighted of them, based on what’s coming in to the area,” said Williams.
A Vacant Building?
Other members of the community are concerned with the future plans for Garrison if the school does close and the building goes vacant.
“Many of us are all too familiar with crime, theft and neighborhood violence,” wrote ANC IB members in a letter to Gray and Henderson. “Another empty, dark area is asking for trouble and will likely deter people from either moving to the neighborhood, increase people’s unease about the adjacent streets and cause increased stress on the already strained police presence.”
Shank thinks that even if a vacant Garrison is eventually turned into a useful space, it will still cost DCPS lots of money to change it into something else.
“Closing Garrison leaves us with three abandoned schools in the neighborhood,” said Shank, who is also apprehensive about rebuilding a new community at Seaton, the school to which Garrison students will be redirected.
“Over the past three years, the parents and community really put a lot of work into building Garrison,” said Shank. “And now many of us feel like we have to start over.”
Garrison PTA member, Ann McLeod seconded Shank’s opinion. “Time and again, the ANC and local neighborhood associations have worked with – and have become increasingly excited about – the potential for Garrison to become a great school,” said McLeod.
“After three years of hard work led by parents and community members, and with new school leadership appointed less than three months ago, many essential elements are now in place to steepen Garrison’s trajectory to becoming one of the top schools in the District,” read the letter from the local ANCs to the city officials.
Melissa McClam, a former graduate and current parent at Garrison also opposes its closing, based on the school’s ability to foster a variety of races, ethnicities, cultures and needs.
The student body at Garrison is 66 percent black, 26 percent Latino and 6 percent white. Additionally, 23 percent of students at Garrison have special needs, and Garrison has an autism-specific classroom.
“Garrison is also special because it creates opportunities for families of different backgrounds to meet other parents and build relationships,” said McClam.
“Over the past few years, I’ve talked to several local parents of young kids who have just started considering sending their children to Garrison, ” said Williams. “And now they are closing – it just doesn’t make any sense.”
Since the announcement, Henderson has been adamant on obtaining community feedback to the closings, and is working with residents to remedy concerns. DCPS has held two DC Council hearings and will hold four additional community meetings for all eight wards over the next week.
If Garrison does close (the closure is not yet eminent), officials have started talking about the school reopening in the future.
“They keep talking about a reopening, and it takes a lot to reopen a school once it closes,” said Williams. “And why would I send my kid there if DCPS has already turned its back on the school once before?”
As for now, many parents are reconsidering their allegiance to DCPS if Garrison does close. When asked if she would still send her child to Seaton if Garrison closes, Williams responded, “You know, I am really hesitant.”
Colin Hill, principal of Garrison Elementary, declined a comment on the closing of the school, but acknowledged “the emotional nature of this process and [his] place in it.” Hill referred us to Melissa Salmanowitz, director of press for DCPS, for comment.
Salmanowitz referred us to the DCPS link for frequently asked questions.
Parents, residents and community members of Ward 2 are holding a town hall meeting on Tuesday, November 27 at the Francis-Stevens Educational Center (2425 N Street NW).
The meeting is to discuss the proposed closings of Francis-Stevens, as announced by DC Public Schools. The meeting is open to the public and will begin at 6:30 pm.
On Tuesday, Nov. 13, DC Public Schools (DCPS) Chancellor Kaya Henderson announced a proposal to close 20 schools in six wards across the city.
Among the schools on the list–which includes eight elementary schools, two education campuses, four middle schools, one high school, one STAY program, the CHOICE program and three special education campuses–are two schools in the Borderstan area. Both Garrison Elementary School (1200 S Street NW) and Shaw at Garnet-Patterson Middle School (2001 10th Street NW) are expected to close for the 2013-2014 school year.
“The challenge we face in DCPS is clear — our buildings are wildly under-enrolled, our resources are stretched too thin and we’re not providing the complement of academic supports that our students and families deserve,” said Henderson.
“Consolidating schools is our best option to better utilize our facilities and work more efficiently for our schools, our teachers, our students and our city.”
Community members took to area listservs after the announcement was made, and the Garrison PTA sent an email to local residents urging them to testify at the School Closures Hearings. The hearings are scheduled for Thursday, Nov. 15 from 4 pm to 8pm and Monday, Nov. 19 from 2 pm to 6 pm.
According to DC Public Schools, the consolidation plan considered student enrollment and demographic trends in the community, building utilization rates, building condition and modernization status and the availability of receiving schools to offer students an improved education experience.
Once the plan is in place, the average school enrollment will increase to 432 students, up from 376, the building utilization rate will be 84 percent, up from 72 percent and more than 1,000 additional students will have the opportunity to attend school in a modernized building.
For more information on the plan and the upcoming hearings, visit the DC Public Schools website.
Save up those shopping lists and support your community’s public school. On Tuesday, September 18, Garrison Elementary and three other schools in DC’s public school system will receive a share of 5% of the day’s net sales at the Whole Foods Market on P Street NW.
That same day, Garrison Elementary’s fourth-and-fifth-grade classes will spend the morning at Whole Foods to learn about organic food and healthy eating. Throughout the field trip, the students will get a tour of the store, compete in an organic scavenger hunt and take part in an “interview” with Whole Foods staff members.
The Whole Foods Market on P Street is open from 8 am until 10:30 pm at 1440 P Street NW.
Garrison Elementary and Coach Mac encourage local community members to come out and mingle with neighbors, hit a few balls and learn more about the Garrison Elementary School field renovations.
The clinic, which runs from 10 am until 11:30 am at 1200 S Street NW, is open to all ages; babysitters will be on site!
From Rachel Nania. Nania writes about everything from food, to health, fashion, art and District lifestyle. In her spare time, she enjoys studying yoga, biking across the city, walking her dog and writing on her blog, Sear, Simmer & Stir. Follow Nania on Twitter@rnania.
Not cooking this Wednesday night? Revise your current takeout selection and opt for a pie at the HomeMade Pizza Company at 14th and Church Streets NW and turn pizza dough into dough for a local public school.
On May 16, between 1pm and 10pm, Garrison Elementary will receive a donation for all purchases made at the 14th Street location, including $5 for every pizza sold, $2 for every salad sold and $1 for every breadstick order.
Orders can be placed in advance online, by phone (202-588-0808) or in the store. If you order online, please email [email protected] to help show support for future partnerships between school communities and local businesses.
Last Saturday, neighbors came together to lend a hand to Garrison Elementary School at 1200 S Street NW. Volunteers from Nellie’s Sports Bar, Anywhere Goes and the Logan Circle Community Association (LCCA) raked, weeded, mulched and shoveled away in the schoolyard from 10 am to 1 pm. Garrison serves students from pre-K through 5th Grade.
The group will head to Nellie’s Sport Bar (9th and U Streets NW) afterward for social time.
Neighbors are coming together this Saturday, March 31, to lend a hand to Garrison Elementary School at 1200 S Street NW. Volunteers from Nellie’s Sports Bar, Anywhere Goes and the Logan Circle Community Association (LCCA) will rake, weed, mulch and shovel in the schoolyard from 10 am to 1 pm.
Want to pitch in? There’s plenty to do and no special skills are required. There will be water and lemonade to keep everyone hydrated. If you got ’em, bring gloves, shovels and/or rakes, but feel free to arrive empty-handed.
Garrison’s main entrance is on S Street between 12th and 13th Streets, but look for the volunteers behind the building. (And this being a school, they can always use a bag of books so here’s your chance to donate those old best-sellers to a worthy cause.) Garrison serves students from pre-K through 5th Grade.
This is a rain or shine event, and the organizers say, “You don’t have to come for the entire three hours.” The group will head to Nellie’s Sport Bar (9th and U Streets NW) afterward for social time.
For more information, contact Tony Watkins at [email protected].
Fact: The average person makes 24% of their annual donations between Thanksgiving and New Year’s, and despite a deep recession, charitable giving was up more than 3% in 2010 (Source: Charity Navigator).
Here at Borderstan we want to help you make the decision to give locally this year. That’s why we’re providing you with an easy way to make contributions to charities that provide support for our neighbors in Borderstan and DC. From health care to social services and the arts, philanthropies in our neighborhood make an impact on our community.
Consider adding one of these charities or organizations to your holiday list. Then ask friends and family to make a donation in your name. Or make a donation for someone else. If we missed an organization, please leave a comment with details!
Following are 14 programs, organizations, charities and schools you can support that provide important services to our community, in the following six categories: Help Those in Need, Local Schools, HIV/AIDS Support, Senior Citizens, LGBT Community and The Arts.
Help Those in Need
Bread for the City, 1525 7th Street NW. The mission of Bread for the City is to provide vulnerable residents of Washington, DC with comprehensive services, including food, clothing, legal and social services and medical care. This season for $28.85 you can provide a single low-income family with a complete holiday meal through the Holiday Helpings program. In addition to cash donations that sustain ongoing programs like the rooftop garden, you can customize your gift by contributing an item from the Bread for the City Wishlist. The list contains items needed for programs and clients and includes needed items like Adobe InDesign software, toaster ovens and gift cards to Walmart, CVS and Target.
Central Union Mission, 1350 R Street NW. Although this long time shelter just moved from its home on 14th Street NW, you can still support the mission this holiday season. In addition to cash donations through their website, you can provide presents for a needy child through Operation Christmas Miracle or even volunteer at their food depot or kitchen. The mission also offers you a chance to customize your donation by purchasing items needed for the residents through their Christmas Catalog — you choose if your dollars buy hygiene clothing, toys or even meals.
Charlie’s Place, 1830 Connecticut Avenue NW. In Northwest DC there can be the misconception that everyone is financially stable. But Charlie’s Place provides an important service for those people who are not. This non-denominational, anti-hunger, homeless ministry of St. Margaret’s Episcopal Church provides morning meal, case management, lunch go-go, HIV testing and counseling and clothing distribution. This holiday season and all year long donations can be made online through their Network for Good site.
Martha’s Table, 2114 14th Street NW. The vision for Martha’s Table is to find solutions to poverty in the short term with food and clothing programs, and in the long term by breaking the cycle of poverty with education and family strengthening programs. This season you can browse their holiday catalog for a customized gift in honor of a family member or friend. Choose from a variety of programs to support including debate classes, college preparation courses or wellness and nutrition activities. You can also make unrestricted cash gifts, donations of clothing or food, or contribute an item from the Martha’s Table Wishlist. If you’re looking for a bigger way to support Martha’s Table into the new year consider attending their Sips and Suppers events in early January where for $100 you have a chance to enjoy drinks with Jose Andres, Alice Waters and Joan Nathan.
N Street Village, 1333 N Street NW. Few people know that many of the homeless services in DC focus specifically on men. Services provided by N Street Village focus on empowerment and recovery for homeless and low-income women. They strive to address issues around income, housing, employment and health. To volunteer or make a donation, in-kind or financial, visit their donation site.
Garrison Elementary School, 1200 S Street NW. Garrison is the in-boundary school for most of Logan Circle and the U Street Corridor, serving more than 250 students from preschool through 5th Grade. The school also has three autism classrooms.You can support the Garrison PTA with a donation; make a check to Garrison PTA, 1200 S Street NW, Washington, DC 20009 (donations to Garrison PTA are not tax deductible at this time). You can also support the school by collecting Box Tops for Education, Labels for Education, linking your Safeway Card to Garrison and just by volunteering! Email [email protected] to join the email list or to get more information.
Ross Elementary School, 1730 R Street NW. There is something so meta about supporting an organization that supports other organizations and Ross Elementary School does just that. In addition to being a local school, through Ross Elementary PTA you can provide donations to Books for America, Children’s Hospital and Charlie’s Place. In addition, you can choose to make a donation to Ross’ programs by bringing your recyclable materials to the school, clipping box top for education labels or selecting Ross as the recipient of the school rewards programs at Giant, Safeway and Harris Teeter.
School for Friends, 2201 P Street NW. One of the ways you can contribute to the School for Friends (Quaker) is through their Fund for Friends Campaign. The fund provides financial aid to students, which allows the school to support their commitment to diversity. One of the great thing about SFF is the diversity of the families, all of varying economic, racial, ethnic and sexual orientation backgrounds. SFF is celebrating its 30th anniversary this year.
Whitman Walker Health, 1701 14th Street NW. If you ever needed to believe a small donation could mean a lot, Whitman Walker Health proves it: just $25 helps their health team distribute 50 safer sex kits. Make a donation to WWH this season and your dollars will go to provide high quality health services to individuals who face barriers to accessing care. You also have the opportunity to make a donation in honor or memory of someone, or even make the gift anonymously.
Dupont Circle Village, 9 Dupont Circle NW. It’s hard to imagine being inside most of the time when all of DC is just outside your door, but for many older resident of the District their world is what they see through their window. That’s why Dupont Village is dedicated to linking older residents to not only social/cultural activities, but to also provide health-related and reliable home-maintenance services. Consider serving as a volunteer to an elderly person in the community by agreeing to provide transportation to and from appointments or provide a pick-up after a medical procedure. Get started with the volunteer application on the Dupont Village site.
The DC Center for the LGBT Community, 1318 U Street NW. The DC Center’s mission is to celebrate and support LGBT residents in the District, and based on the number of programs, activities and communities on their site, they are succeeding. Although the Center accepts cash donations throughout the year, you may want to consider buying a ticket to the Glamour, Glitter, Gold Oscar event held in February each year. Proceeds support the Center and you get to dress up for a fun night out.
Trevor Project, DC Ambassadors Committee. The Washington, DC Ambassadors Committee is group of volunteers dedicated to helping raise awareness of The Trevor Project‘s mission of ending suicide among LGBTQ youth. The committee works with schools in the DC area to reach out to kids directly and raise awareness of the issue, as well as raising support through volunteerism and fundraising, to help The Trevor Project carry on their life-saving efforts. In its first year, the local committee raised nearly $100,000 for the Trevor Project and engaged over 1,000 DC area supporters.
Mid City Artists. The Mid City Artists is “a diverse and talented group of professional artists who have come together for the purpose of promoting their art and the Dupont/Logan neighborhoods of Washington DC that they call home. Twice each year, the private studios of select member artists are open for visitors. Discover painting, photography, sculpture, glass, mixed media, prints and much more.” With a current roster of 42 artists, you can support MCA’s general fund by sending a check to the organization’s treasurer: MCA, c/o Chuck Baxter, 914 Westminster Street NW, Washington, DC 20001. (Donations are not tax deductible.)
The Phillips Collection, 1600 21st Street NW. The artwork in the Phillips Collection is mighty in its scope — the museum features more than 3,000 works of art by Renoir, van Gogh, Picasso, Rothko, Diebenkorn, and other modern masters. Caring for so many historic pieces calls for community support and this holiday it’s easy to do that with a donation to the museum. You can become a member and gain reciprocal special admission at more than 300 partner museums. Unrestricted dollars are welcome, but you can also choose to dedicate your gift to the musical program or the onsite library and archives.
Principal Rembert Seaward, the Early Childhood Teaching Team and others will host an Open House for prospective Pre-Schoolers (age 3 by September 30, 2012) and Pre-Kindergarteners (age 4 by September 30, 2012) parents and the entire community on December 7, 8:30 to 10:00 am. There will be a discussion of the “Tools of the Mind” curriculum in use at Garrison, which is designed to develop executive functioning and self-regulation skills. You’ll even have an opportunity to see it in action!
Please be reminded that all DC parents must enter the PS/PK/Out of Boundary lottery to secure a PS or PK seat – there are no guarantees of obtaining admission to any DCPS for PS or PK. However, there is an admission preference for your in-boundary school. Lottery applications may be submitted between January 30 and February 27, 2011; results are available a few business days after the applications close. You can get more information online about the lottery process.
Concluding the second season of the U Street Movie Series, the U Street Neighborhood Association‘s Education Committee is hosting a free screening of Waiting for “Superman” followed by a panel discussion on education policy. The event is Saturday, October 22 from noon to 3 pm at Shaw at Garnet-Patterson Jr. High School at 2001 10th Street NW.
Waiting for “Superman” is a 2010 documentary film by director Davis Guggenheim and producer Lesley Chilcott, which analyzes the failures of American public education by following several students though the educational system, hoping to be selected in a lottery for acceptance in charter schools.
Admission is free and open to the public. However, advanced registration is required to attend, as seating is limited. Please register at Eventbrite.
The panel following the movie consists of a variety of local education leaders, including:
- Jackie Gran (Moderator) – Chief Policy & Partnerships Officer at New Leaders for New Schools
- Kelly Young – DCPS Interim Chief, Office of Family and Public Engagement
- Evelyn Boyd Simmons – ANC 2F Education Committee Chair, parent of Garrison Elem. students
- Reuben Jacobson – Senior Associate for Research/Strategy for Coalition for Community Schools
- Patrick Mara – Ward 1 DC State Board of Education Representative
- Robinette Breedlove: Principal, Meridian Public Charter School
- Kerry Sylvia: Teacher, Cardozo High School
- Ann McLeod: Garrison Elementary PTA President, and parent
Donation proceeds from this screening of Waiting for Superman and panel discussion will support the HandsOn Greater DC Cares 2012 Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service in January 2012, and will directly benefit our neighborhood schools. For over six years, HandsOn Greater DC Cares has used this day as a vehicle to recognize Dr. King’s leadership, legacy, and life through acts of service focusing on school and education based non-profit organizations and engaging youth in service.
The results are in from the Memorial Day Cafe Saint-Ex Chili Cook Off: The event raised more than $8,000 for Garrison Elementary School.
“The broader Garrison community — current and incoming parents, faculty and staff, friends and families, made up almost 70% of the volunteers for this event! For a school that didn’t have so much as a PTA until late last year, I’d say that’s pretty impressive,” said Evelyn Boyd Simmons, chair of the ANC 2F Education Committee.
Check out the photos from the event: Memorial Day Heat Doesn’t Stop Chili Lovers at Saint-Ex.
A Ward 2 State of the Schools event is scheduled for Tuesday, June 7, from 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at Garrison Elementary School. The meeting is being hosted by DC Public Schools Chancellor Kaya Henderson and Councilmember Jack Evans (D-Ward 2). Garrison is at 1200 S Street NW and the meeting is open to the public.
The event begins with a 45-minute expo of all Ward 2 schools, which give attendees an opportunity to speak with school representatives, teachers and parents.
The expo will be followed by remarks from Henderson and Evans and will conclude with three different roundtable discussions: Academic Standards and Rigor; Extracurricular Activities and Programming; and School Culture and Classroom Management.
From Alejandra Owens. Check out her food and cooking blog, One Bite At A Time, and follow her on Twitter @frijolita.
What are your plans for the weekend, Borderstanis? If you’re coming up short, I have something for you! The Memorial Day Cafe Saint-Ex Annual Chili Cook Off!
The annual event is hosted and sponsored by Cafe Saint-Ex and will be held on the 1300 block of T Street NW next to the neighborhood eatery. The event runs from 11 am to 5 pm Monday, May 30.
There will be local bands playing music all day, a Peroni beer truck and a kids’ area for some family fun (because beer trucks and family fun definitely go together!).
Now to the most important part: the chili.
The Annual Memorial Day Chili Cook Off at Cafe Saint-Ex needs volunteers to help with a variety of activities including set ups, the kids’ zone, the lemonade stand and ticket sales. This year’s Cook Off benefits Garrison Elementary School at 1200 S Street NW (you can also find the school on Facebook). You can sign up online to volunteer and a coordinator with the Garrison School PTA will contact you.
The annual event is sponsored by Cafe Saint-Ex and will be held on the 1300 block of T Street NW next to the neighborhood eatery. The event runs from 11 am to 5 pm Monday, May 30. In addition to chili, there will be grilled hamburgers, a hot dog eating competition, live music, a kids area and a Peroni Beer Truck. We will have more details later this week.
Borderstan.com and Luis Gomez Photos are proud to be among this year’s sponsors. One of the chili judges will be Alejandra Owens. She writes about food and restaurants for Borderstan.com and at her own site, One Bite At A Time.