GWU Wishes Happy Bday to MLK at Former Gang Plagued School

The spirit of service is alive and vibrant at George Washington University (GWU) and on the birthday of the legendary Dr. Martin Luther King, hundreds of GWU students, staff and faculty took a day ON, not a day off to beautiful this former gang-plagued school.

Ballou High School in the past has been plagued with violence both off and on-campus.
In 2003, the school was shut down for weeks due to a mercury spill in the chemistry lab.  In 2004, a 17-year-old student, star football-player, (J-Rock Richardson) was killed during a confrontation after class.  The hallways were filled with trash and graffiti.  Teachers were too afraid to correct students.
Students from Condon Terrace and Barry Farms feuded with Ballou.

But lately, things are drastically improving.
The Peacoholics, the Ward-8-based non profit comprised of ex-offenders have been working diligently with at-risk kids in Southeast.

Starting last year, the DC police have shut down sidewalks and streets in front of Ballou from 3 to 3:30 pm.  No cars, no foot traffic, no loitering.

DC schools have created war rooms to map out what would be taught in each grade, every subject, every day.  The objective on the top left corner, homework assignments detailed on the bottom.  Every single detail from when the students would come and go to how they are sent to class is planned.
with Chancellor Michelle Rhee

Principal Rahman Branch said that Ballou, once "a symbol of what was going wrong in public education, now stands for what is going right."

"In my five years, Ballou will be the nation's best school."

The school is located in an up and coming neighborhood in Congress Heights.

Read: My observations from my first trip to Anacostia/Congress Heights in 2003

Read the gripping article of the MLK Riots on April 4, 1968.

And last year, the award-winning and critically-acclaimed Ballou HS Marching Band made it to the Rose Bowl (Thanks to Ellen Degeneres and Old Navy)

The majestic Ballou Marching Knights struts their stuff.


  1. I really enjoyed this article. But the link to your first trip to Anacostia isn't working.