The National Center for Children and Families (NCCF) has worked with J.C. Nalle Elementary in Ward 7 for many years, supporting students and families with initiatives that include afterschool and Saturday programs. One major challenge is the condition of Nalle’s 60-year-old building, which NCCF says is in dire need of a facelift. It’s also not due for any modernization work until next year at the earliest, according to the school system’s 2010 Master Facilities Plan.

A few months ago, some Nalle students wrote about the school’s conditions in letters to Mayor Vincent C. Gray (D) and D.C. Council Chairman Kwame R. Brown. NCCF says they were never answered, and it forwarded excerpts of the letters to me.

One fourth grade girl, whose name is withheld for privacy reasons, says Nalle suffers from more than poor physical condition:

“If I was in charge, I will stop people from coming to our school to smoke and stop hating people. I will stop bugs from coming into the place we have to eat and use the bathroom. I will stop people from pulling the paint off the wall and the classroom doors and bathroom doors. And lots of people, like teens are coming into our school and attacking people that they don’t know. And lots of people are stealing people candy and money and backpacks. People fight people, and put up their middle finger and cussing at people. People are writing on the bathroom walls and classroom floor.

If I had the power then I would tell the people that we need to get an exterminator for the bathroom and the cafeteria and I would change the food because the breakfast, the biscuits with cheese and fries on top of the biscuits is gross and that is what I want to change, and I want to change the doors. But we really need to focus on how people treat things.”

Mr. Mayor? Mr.Chairman?