Calvin Coolidge H.S. Finally Set for Upgrade

by: James Wright Special to the AFRO jwright@afro.com
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One of the District of Columbia’s storied high schools will be upgraded after waiting several years for other institutions to go through the process.

D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser (D), D.C. Council members Robert White (D-At Large) and Brandon Todd (D-Ward 4) joined D.C. Schools Chancellor Antwan Wilson, community leaders, alumni and students at the groundbreaking of Calvin Coolidge Senior High School on Sept. 1 at the institution’s Northwest campus.

Calvin Coolidge Senior High School is slated to be upgraded in by 2019. (Courtesy photo)

“We’re going to get a brand new Coolidge,” the mayor shouted with a full smile to the applause of 40 people at the school’s front entrance.

“When we invest in education, we are investing in the future of our community,” she said. “We heard loud and clear from our Ward 4 students, families, educators and community members that they want a modernized school that offers rigorous academics and specialized programming. We are confident that when this project is finished, the modernized Coolidge will go above and beyond the expectations of the community.”

Coolidge will undergo a full $160 million modernization and as a part of that process, a new middle school will be built on the campus. The facility will re-open in the school year 2019-2020 and is designed to serve more than 1,100 middle and high school students.

Coolidge is named for President Calvin Coolidge and opened its doors in 1940. Coolidge was predominantly White when it opened and stayed that way until the 1960s, when Blacks began to move into the Takoma neighborhood that it is located in.

Coolidge is presently 87 percent Black, 12 percent Latino and one percent White, according to District public school data. Prominent alumni include {Washington Informer} Publisher Denise Rolark Barnes, former NBA basketball player Kermit Washington, sportscaster Warner Wolf and former Montgomery County Executive Sid Kramer.

The upgrade of Coolidge will include state-of-the-art spaces for a new Health Sciences Academy and mass media programs, a child care center, a health center and a new outdoor garden. During the construction, students will be housed in modular units located on the campus.

“Through this modernization, we will ensure that our students have access to a safe and welcoming learning environment, expose our students to careers in the medical field and increase opportunities for middle school students,” Wilson said. “I’m thrilled for this investment that will allow DCPS to continue to expand options to meet the needs of students and families in every corner of our city.”

During her speech, Bowser credited Coolidge alum and D.C. resident Terry Goings for his advocacy in modernizing Coolidge. Goings is a 1977 graduate of the school and two of his children are also graduates of the 2006 and 2009 classes.

“Terry Goings is world-class alum and he was singularly focused on modernization,” the mayor said.

Goings, in his remarks to the gathering, said it was a tougher-than expected fight for Coolidge to reach this point.

“We have been working on this for the last 15 years,” he said. “This is the last school to be modernized. I honestly don’t know why that is given that this school is located in a high-medium income neighborhood.”

Goings credited the school’s PTA for its activism and the community for its input. He said that Bowser “stuck her neck out there and got the money for us.”

Goings told the AFRO that Coolidge was last on the line for modernization because of politics and other schools were in more dire need of renovation.

Scot Knickerbocker, an advisory neighborhood commissioner in Ward 4 told the AFRO “the new Coolidge High School means a whole new era for the neighborhood.”

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