"Stop underestimating us," says Ballou graduate.
The 2017 graduating class of Ballou High School in Southeast D.C. has made history by achieving 100% college acceptance. Despite controversy and criticism, each of the 170 graduating students crossed the stage and received an acceptance letter.
“Everybody just, they was betting on us failing, and we all came together and we graduated,” said Ballou graduate Me’Ashja Hamilton to WUSA channel 9. Aside from the poverty and violence that plague Southeast D.C., it was just last year that the only 3% of Ballou High School students passed the city’s standardized test for reading.
Hamilton explained that teachers and students were able to work together and overcome the odds. She said last spring, the seniors had decided they would all apply to college. Virginia State and Penn State were big among the schools selected.
The Washington Post reported “Ballou has about 930 students, and all qualify for free or reduced-price lunch because they live in poverty. Many come from homes where their parents didn’t go to college. The school ranks among the city’s lowest-performing high schools on core measures. Its graduation rate in the last school year, 57 percent, was second-lowest among regular high schools in the DCPS system.”
Between September 2016 and June 2017, 184 teachers (out of 4,000 total) quit their jobs in the D.C. school system. Former Ballou teachers explained to The Post they did “not want to leave mid-year and felt bad about the consequences for students. But they said a number of problems drove them to leave, from student behavior and attendance issues to their own perception of a lack of support from the administration.”
Teachers and students at Ballou spoke of severe disruptions and delays as a consequence of the exodus. Regardless, they pulled together and showed an inspiring sense dedication and perseverance. “Stop underestimating us,” Hamilton told WUSA 9. “You just have to give them a chance. The opportunity to do better and you will so that a lot of students in Southeast in particular can do great things.”
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