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Mayor Bowser Breaks Ground on Modernization and Expansion of DC’s Premier High School

Saturday, September 21, 2019
The new location allows Banneker Academic High School to expand access to 300 additional students from neighborhoods across the city.
Banneker Academic High School Ground Breaking

(Washington, DC) – Today, Mayor Muriel Bowser broke ground on the modernization and expansion of Benjamin Banneker Academic High School at the site of the former Shaw Junior High School. Banneker currently serves students from all eight wards of the District, and the new location will allow DC Public Schools (DCPS) to expand access to Banneker to 300 additional students in a central location for students traveling from neighborhoods across the city.

“When Banneker students marched through the Wilson Building a few months ago, I promised to fight for them – I am proud to deliver on that commitment,” said Mayor Bowser. “Our students at Banneker have achieved at the highest levels – now they will have access to the world-class learning facility that they deserve. I continue to be inspired by the incredible work students from all eight wards are doing at Banneker, and look forward to cutting the ribbon on this beautiful facility in 2021.”

Originally built as a middle school, Banneker’s current facility does not have a high school-sized gym, up-to-date science labs, or access to new technology. The $152 million project includes the demolition of the current building, more than 30 classrooms and specialty labs for science courses, lab spaces with the latest technology, resource rooms that include spaces for small group projects and instruction, and gym and cafeteria spaces. The new Banneker Academic High School is expected to open in School Year 2021-2022, and serve 800 students by 2025.

“When I visit Banneker Academic High School, I see firsthand the incredible teaching and learning our students from all eight wards are experiencing,” said DCPS Chancellor Lewis D. Ferebee. “Students are speaking French fluently, developing innovative technology to address world challenges, and thinking critically about social justice to make a difference in their communities. This new facility will take instruction at Banneker to the next level, and I am proud that even more students will have the opportunity to attend the District’s premier high school.”

As the number one high school in the city serving predominantly African American and Latino students, more than 800 students applied for less than 200 seats offered at Banneker this school year. Banneker has grown more than any other DCPS selective high school, and applications have increased by 36 percent over the past three years. Achievement also continues to be on the rise at Banneker. Banneker saw a 12.9 percent increase in students meeting or exceeding expectations in math on the 2019 Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) assessment.

“Former DCPS Superintendent, Dr. Vincent E. Reed, who created this great school, would be extremely honored to know that his “dream realized” has evolved to this,” said Benjamin Banneker Academic High School Principal Anita Berger. “I am humbled and honored to be a member of the Benjamin Banneker Academic High School family and excited to impact the lives of even more academically ambitious students with a state-of-the-art facility.”

Benjamin Banneker Academic High School opened for students in 1981 as an alternative high school where students in ninth through twelfth grades can engage in rigorous and varied academic experiences. The school has been an International Baccalaureate World School since 2001. In 2017, Banneker was recognized as a National Blue Ribbon school.

“I’m proud that our agency has a significant role investing in the lives of students who will enter the new Banneker Academic High School,” said Keith A. Anderson, Director of the Department of General Services. “Through a design to meet their educational needs coupled with the aim for the project to reach Net Zero energy goals, Banneker will be a place where everyone can thrive.”