D.C. school year starts with a dance party at Eastern Senior High School


Courtney Finch, right, embraces Dajuan Greene, middle, as Keyeona Finch, middle, and Javan Clay, right, look on during the first day of school at Eastern High School on Monday in Washington. (Amanda Voisard/For the Washington Post)

Students at Eastern Senior High School were met with balloons and a dance party Monday morning on their first day of school.

They lined up on the sidewalk on the bright, sunny morning to pick up their course schedules. Every senior at the Capitol Hill school was given a crown.

The Class of 2015 will be the first to graduate from Eastern since it was restarted three years ago with a new principal, a new building, and a more rigorous International Baccalaureate program.

“I think Eastern is a different place than people have known it to be,” said D.C. schools Chancellor Kaya Henderson, who greeted students outside the school Monday morning. She called it “emblematic of the rebirth of DCPS.”

D.C. public schools opened doors Monday with 47,000 students. Many D.C. public charter schools, which serve 44 percent of the public school students in the District, also had their first day Monday.

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Henderson, along with Mayor Vincent C. Gray and other District officials, spent much of the day touring schools, meeting with bus drivers, and visiting classes.

At Eastern, the visitors were met with a DJ and the Rambler, the school’s mascot. The welcome party was organized by a non-profit called The Future Project, which helps teenagers pursue their aspirations.

“Hi ladies, welcome to school!” said Voncia Monchais, a “dream director” based at the school who works for the organization.

She handed out Mardi Gras beads and bracelets, and danced with the students.

Some students are not excited about the first day of school, Monchais said. “So we were like, let’s make it fun,” she said.

Michael Alison Chandler writes about schools and families in the Washington region.

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