As we prepare for graduation on Monday, at UDC, I am sure our seniors are filled with emotion and memories. There is so much to recall. Times of laughter, such as when they dressed up in suits and petticoats for Ms. Seid’s Jane Austen tea party. And moments of solemnity, like visiting the 9/11 Memorial in Shanksville, Pennsylvania as a part of Mr. Hagerty’s history class. They will undoubtedly remember friends they made, some over four years, and others over eight years at our school, and the two trips to Camp Letts to build esprit de corps with their classmates and either accept to confer the mantle of leadership.
Congratulations to the seniors for their hard work and for their accomplishments within and without the classroom. They have earned more than 6 million dollars in merit aid for college, including “Beat the Odds” and “Posse” Scholarships. The DC Public Charter School Board chose one member of the class to represent all students in the City who attend Tier One schools. Students in this class took Forensic Science at Syracuse, photography at Occidental College and college prep courses at Georgetown University. Some worked after-school and summer jobs as lifeguards, baristas, or ice cream scoopers. Others participated in internships, including one on Capitol Hill with a Texas Congressman. They also had stunning success in the athletic arena, earning All-State selections, excelling in playoff appearances and receiving numerous awards. One even won a Division I scholarship for basketball.
Also, and equally importantly, our seniors learned about the importance of service to the broader community. They were “reading buddies” with fifth graders, mentors to eighth-grade students, peer mediators and tutors to middle schoolers. They made and delivered Valentine’s Day cards to senior citizens and veterans with Ms. Foster, and volunteered at the Gethsemane Baptist Church having lunch with senior citizens. They helped develop a program called Latin Soul, to volunteer to deliver cups of soup and hot cocoa to homeless people in the district, and they worked with a nonprofit called Little Lights to provide homework help.
The lessons they have learned at Washington Latin will help prepare them for the next step in life. We hope to see the class of 2018 visit the school in future years, stay in touch with Ms. Eleby-El and actively participate in the new alumni organization that we are working to build. And who knows? Maybe a member of this class will return someday to work here. I think one or two have expressed an interest in my job. On behalf of the whole school, I wish the Class of 2018 the best of luck in all their exciting adventures!
Head of School
Throughout my career I have been deeply concerned about how students use out of school time, especially the summer break. In March, I referenced the phenomenon known as “summer slide.” This is the loss of content knowledge, conceptual understanding and academic skills suffered by many students during the summer months. This may even be a contributing factor to the achievement gap.
The summer is particularly unforgiving on reluctant readers. The research shows that, to prevent from regressing, students (particularly those whose skills are not advanced) need to read at least six books. These ought to be books that are not too hard and not too easy. While we require students to read certain texts, parents should encourage their children to select additional books that match their interests. We will post suggested reading lists on our website beginning late next week. They should read something everyday – whether from a newspaper, online source, TV captions or a hard cover book. And there is still value, even when students are in high school, to spend time reading aloud – this could be a fun family experience two or three times per week.
Learning loss is greater in math than in reading. This is why we have elected to prepare summer math packets for each grade level to help students continue to practice their skills. Besides this, students will benefit from playing games that are full of logic and calculations. They can gain much from visiting museums, watching sports and tracking the statistics and using recipes to cook. Older students also gain much from teaching math to younger students.
The summer should be a time of enrichment and renewal. Both children and adults benefit from new experiences or exploring new places. Thanks to the Faculty Fund, several of our teachers and administrators will be able to pursue personal and/or professional growth opportunities outside of D.C. Ms. Khashiffa Roberts plans to visit schools in Finland where she will observe classes. Mr. Rickey Torrence will do scientific research while visiting Mt. Rushmore. Ms. Caroline Rose will explore Paris and Rome. Ms. Stephanie McDaniel will attend a conference in Prague. Several of our students have also won language immersion scholarships that will take them to places like China, Jordan, Rome and Greece.
One exciting option for the summer – whether for three weeks or six – is the Washington Latin Summer School. There are opportunities for advancement, review and enrichment, featuring everything from cooking to creative writing or from Algebra I to Underwater Robotics. And it is not too late to sign up.
While reading and practicing math is important, students need to engage their minds in other ways. Help them plan for a balanced experience. Encourage community service. Give them the chance to work with their hands, whether on crafts, in the kitchen, or in the garden. Make sure they have time outdoors. And, above all, adults and children alike need to have fun!
Head of School