Washington Post staff writer Edward D. Sargent and staff photographer Vanessa Barnes Hillian interviewed D.C. students and asked them about the new school year.

Jacqueline Harding, 17, senior, McKinley High: "I like the school activities, sports and going to class. History is my favorite class. I learn about black history and D.C. government, voting and what happened in World War II. We have nice teachers too. They know what they're doing."

Linwood Battle, 16, a junior, McKinley: "I look forward to building up my grades. But D.C. schools need a lot of improvement. We don't have the support that white kids in the suburbs have. Last year when I told a teacher that I wanted to be an architect, he laughed in my face."

Jamie Stubbs, 8, a fourth grader at Petworth Elementary School: "I love school. I like getting a good education. We don't play in class at my school. We learn math, reading and science. The hardest part about going to school is having to stay in during recess because the class was acting bad."

Nicole Dickens, 10, a fifth grader, John Burroughs Elementary: "I like my teacher. She knows how to handle kids. She doesn't scream. She just talks to us. The hardest part of going to school is making friends. You ask people their names and sometimes they be grouchy. . . ."

Lisa Briscoe, 13, an eighth grader at Douglass Junior High: "This summer was boring. I didn't work because I was too young. My favorite classes are math, English and physical education. Dealing with trouble makers and getting up in the mornings are the hardest parts of going to school."

Vicky Gales, 17, a senior at Ballou High School: "Yes, so I can get my high school diploma. I like learning. My favorite class is English. I dislike some of the teachers and I don't like the school lunches. Getting up in the mornings is hard, but once I get there, I like it."

Delvia Waddy, 16, a junior at Dunbar: "I like Dunbar's academic courses. Computer math is my favorite class. Most D.C. schools don't have the supplies they should have. The schools are poor. . . . I want to help people get well. I think Dunbar will prepare me for my goal."

Andre Clark, 13, an eighth grader, Jefferson Junior High: "I like learning, especially math and English. I want to be a businessman. The hard things to deal with are the boys who come to school to fight . . . and you've got to put up with a lot of hot classrooms and a lot of teachers who don't care."