For the first time in Ballou High School history, every single senior at the predominately Black school applied to college this year. Just think: Last year, only 57 percent of their students graduated.
According to The Washington Post, Ballou, which is located in the one of the district’s poorest neighborhoods, has long-held a negativereputation and many students who attend the school end up dropping out. In 2016, only 3 percent of Ballou students tested met reading standards on citywide standardized exams and almost none met math standards.
But despite those obstacles, the school’s administration is dedicated to showing their students that college can be in their future.
“There are some schools and communities where college is an automatic next step. There is no celebration,” Ballou principal Yetunde Reeves told the newspaper.
“Our kids don’t get that same message. We are trying to create an environment where going to college is what Ballou does as well.”
Many have applied to the city’s public University of the District of Columbia; others have targeted HBCUs such as Tennessee State University and North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University; and some are applying to larger state schools such as Penn State and Temple. For many of these students, they will be the first in their family to attend a four-year college, the WaPo noted.
Ballou college and career coordinator Jamanda Porter is being credited for this amazing feat.
“We are meeting our students where they are, but we are pushing them to higher expectations,” Porter explained.
It’s not known if all of theses students will graduate from high school or even enroll in college, but Porter says the school is committed to helping every student get a diploma. And for some, just applying to college gives students hope for the future Ballou’s assistant principal Shamele Straughter stressed.
“Now they have choice. That is the beauty of this entire thing — you get to pick,” Straughter said. “I am excited about seeing what the acceptance rate is going to be.”
Congrats to the class of 2017! We are rooting for you!