For many high school students, the first day of school usually involves shuffling through the halls trying to find next period’s classroom and comparing class schedules with friends, but for students at Eastern High in Washington, DC, the first day also involved a warm welcome from Secretary Arne Duncan, DC Mayor Vincent Gray, and DC Public Schools Chancellor Kaya Henderson.
After greeting the students and touring the school’s facilities, Secretary Duncan addressed Eastern’s student body with an inspiring address. In his remarks, the Secretary articulated how ED’s policies would affect schools in DC and nationwide.
As a Turnaround School, Eastern is eligible for additional funding from the federal government to raise expectations, improve the quality of teaching, and provide students with the help they need to graduate and be ready to go to college and enter the workforce. ED and the Obama Administration have made a significant investment – more than $4 billion – to help states turn around their lowest performing schools. Duncan outlined how more than 1,000 schools throughout the country are using Turnaround grant money to increase education outcomes.
Duncan emphasized that Mayor Gray, Chancellor Henderson and Principal Rachel Skerritt were committed to executing an effective turnaround plan for the school.
“Eastern’s turnaround is built around four key values: Excellence, Scholarship, Honor, and Service,” Duncan said, following Mayor Gray’s remarks about the vital contributions that Eastern alumni had made to Washington and to the world.
Duncan also discussed how excellence in Eastern’s curriculum was emerging through more rigorous academic offerings. The school is adding an International Baccalaureate program and is preparing to offer Advanced Placement programs when the Class of 2015 reaches the upper grades.
Additionally, Duncan praised the more than 60 students who joined the Health and Medical Sciences Academy, a program that will help prepare them to work in one of the fastest growing fields in America’s future economy.
The Secretary finished his remarks by encouraging the students to pursue a college education and to work hard in all of their future endeavors.