The large, sky-lit room with booklined walls was not a typical setting for a birthday party, and although none of the 80 people present sang "Happy Birthday," there was a cake with candles.
The occasion was the fifth birthday of the Two-W Congress, Inc., an elected body of students parents, teachers, school administrators and persons from the community working for better education in the public schools.
The ceremony at the Woodrow Wilson High School library, Chesapeake Street and Nebraska Avenue NW last week featured the presentation of 44 awards for achievement this past year in Two-W Congress programs.
The organization works to promote "educational excellence, diversified programs and communication" in 37 schools spread through five of the city's wards.
D.C. Board of Education President Conrad Smith presented the certificates, plaques and key chains with gold tags dangling from them that said "Two-W."
After each set of awards was presented, Del. Walter E. Fauntroy (D-D.C.) rose from the dais, warmly shook the hands of the recipients and returned to his seat.
"I know some of you may think me rather silly to keep jumping up and sitting down to shake the hands of those whom we've honored here tonight," he said after the awards were presented, "but I'm one who feels that you can't do enough to say "Thank you" to people who labor in the vineyard but seldom taste the wine."
The "laborers" included the nine students who showed the most progress this past year in the Two-W Skill Centers for remedial reading and math, the Skill Center teachers and tutors, the classroom teachers utilizing Two-W programs, Shepherd Elementary Principal Edith Smith ("for outstanding cooperation and support" of Two-W programs) and the community award and special citation award recipients. Plaques were also presented to two schools, Oyster Elementary and Francis Junior High, "for outstanding participation in Two-W programs."
The community award went to Marilou Righini, a parent and delegate from Hardy Middle School. Earlier in the evening, Dorothy Johnson, Region II assistant superintendent, said: "Sometimes you recieve awards and you wonder why some of fus recieve survival awards."
The audience laughed, but when Righini, one of the founders of the Two-W Congress, recieved her award and said, "This is truly the survival award." there was no laughter - only loud applause.
Two-W program, so named because they were originally designed to serve Wilson and Western (now Ellignton) high schools and their "feeder" schools, are federally funded through the Emergency School Aid Act, administered by the HEW Office of Education. Two-W Congress programs are fashioned to aid students by means of competency-based curricula and instruction.
Fauntroy praised the work of the congress and stressed the need for more organizations of this type nationwide. He also stressed the importance of pulic school system.
"Your organization, in better fashion than most, has been able to instill a true spirit of cooperation and mutual respect between parents and teachers," he told members of the Two-W Congress.
"The District's public schools are very important to me," he continued, "not only because the overwhelming majority of four children attend public schools, but also because I am a product of the D.C. public school system. . . . our public schools and our comunity must stand together for survival. Public schools must, by definition, be really felt to include not only the students, but the teachers and administration as well."
The awards and recipients were:
Student Skill Center Awards: Pailene Foster and Nelson Covarrubias, Adam Community; Paul Blackwell, Brighwood Elementary, Jerry Bryant, H.D. Cooke Elementary; Angela Jones and Marlene Johnson, Lincoln Junior High, and Denny Clayton, Francis Junior High, and Antoinette Grady and Melissa Hackley, Wilson Senior High.
Student Intership Program Awards: William Chase, Randall Senior High and Rhonda McCreary, Wilson Senior High.
Skill Center Teacher awards: Janet Lee, H.D. Cooke Elementary; Flossie Isler, Francis Junior High; Georgia Camp (2 awards), Adams Community, and Maida Zamoff, Wilson Senior High.
Skill Center Tutor Award: Peggy Everheart, Adams Community.
Class room and Special Teacher Awards: Sheila Ford, Murch Elementary, Wilma Bonner, Audrey Gibbs, Kafi Imani, Gail Ruffin and Robbie Greer, Adams Community; Judy Moore Jones, Brent Elementary, Linda Fields, Thomson Elementary; Sadie Thompson, West Elementary; Janice Spencer, Shepherd Elementary; Maryanna Fields, Janney Elementary; Juanita Hayes and Mildred Freeman, H.D. Cooke Elementary; Courtney Fletcher, Delores Jordon, Barbara Knox and Charles A. Riddick, Francis Junior High; Annie Hawthorne, Bowen Elementary, and Ann Jackson, Norma Kelley and Sharon Wesley, Brightwood Elementary.
Special Citations: Myrna Pike and the Two-W Project Staff.