A Washington, D.C. high school can proudly say that each and every one of its high school seniors has applied to college.
The Washington Post reports that Ballou High saw 190 seniors fill out applications for admission to institutions of higher learning.
Ballou ranks among D.C.’s lowest-performing high schools on core measures. Last school year, it had a 57 percent graduation rate, the second-lowest among regular schools in the D.C. Public Schools system. Anacostia High ranked number one with a graduation rate of just 42 percent.
Despite Ballou High School’s challenges, it was the senior class as a whole’s decision to collectively apply for college. The students set the goal last Spring, according to school administrators.
18-year-old Randy Sams applied to at least 14 post-secondary institutions. He has been accepted to 12, including Penn State University and Virginia State University. His top choice is Philadelphia’s Temple University, which he is waiting to hear from.
“There are some schools and communities where college is an automatic next step. There is no celebration,” said Yetunde Reeves, Ballou’s principal. “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.”
According to Deputy Chief of College and Career Programs for DCPS, Erin Bibo, Benjamin Banneker Academic High School is the only other in the system where 100 percent of its senior have applied for college.
Roughly 930 students attend Ballou High. It resides in one of the poorest wards in the city, where every student qualifies for either free or reduced-price lunch.
Educators cite class attendance as a big struggle when it comes to increasing the high school graduation rate.