DC at Night

DC at Night

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Inspired By Its Past, Dunbar Gets a New High School

Dunbar when it was the nation's greatest Black school
It's a historic week for historic Dunbar High School. The school, recognized during the 1st half of the 20th Century as the finest African-American high school in America, is celebrating its new $122 million facility with 5 days of special events.

On Monday, DC Mayor Vincent Gray and DC delegate to the U.S. Congress Eleanor Holmes Norton, both 1950's graduates of the school, joined school officials and other dignitaries to cut the ribbon officially opening the state-of-the-art building.

Today, comedian Bill Cosby regaled a packed auditorium with his hilarious impressions of the school's storied history and possible future. Still to come is a presentation by author Alison Stewart on her just released book First Class: The Legacy of Dunbar, America's First Black Public High School.

All week long, alumni from as far back as the 1940's have been joining students as recently graduated as 2013 to tour the new school, which features a museum to commemorate the school's significance. In fact, history plays a large role in the modernistic design of the structure. Eight Dunbar alumni or faculty have been singled out on U.S. postal stamps. Giant posters of all 8 have been placed on a wall of the media center, where their visages can serve to inspire incoming Dunbar students. There are also 118 plaques placed around the school honoring various alumni for achievements ranging from being the 1st elected U.S. Senator to starring as an all-pro NFL tight end.

When the school opens next week under its inspirational principal Stephen Jackson, students will be housed in one of 4 academies named for distinguished Dunbarians. Those academies are:
  • the Vincent Gray 9th Grade Academy
  • the Dr. Anna J. Cooper Educational Career Academy in Administration and Counseling
  • the Eleanor Holmes Leadership Academy in Business and Public Policy and
  • the Dr. Charles Drew Academy in Bio-Medicine and Engineering.
Here is a pictorial look at some of the highlights of the new building and this week's events.

The grand new entrance

The enormous lobby

The treasures in the school museum

The 8 Dunbar alumni and staff honored on postage stamps

The 2-tier auditorium with seating for 600

Bill Cosby becomes an honorary Dunbar alumnus

The Olympic-sized swimming pool

The open-air cafeteria

The ecologically friendly bathrooms in the completely "green" school

Tales, Tidbits, and Tips
Of course, this week's opening has been a big news story in DC. Click here to read The Washington Post's account.

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