Newly renovated H.D. Woodson opens its doors for 2011-2012 school year.
After 3 years of waiting, students at H.D. Woodson finally get to go back into their home school. On Wednesday September 17, 2011 H.D. Woodson opened its doors for the new 2011-2012 school year. Mayor Gray, Council Chairman Kwame Brown and Ward 7 Councilmember Yvette Alexander were on hand for the ribbon cutting.
For the past three years students have attended neighbor schools: ninth-graders at Ron Brown Middle School on Meade Street in Northeast, the rest at the former Fletcher-Johnson Education Center on Benning Road in Southeast. Although shut down for the past three years, the new school is promising with state-of-the-art facilities that include new classrooms, a new library, a large football and track field and a new pool. The school mirrors a small community college, with an Olympic-size swimming pool, and even a 1,000 seat auditorium, which will be available to the public.
Officials hope that the renovations will help students focus more and allow teachers greater comfort in educating students. Builders made sure the school was green, with seventy-five percent of the roof being covered with vegetation to absorb rainwater and control interior temperatures. A harvesting system stores rainwater and backwash from the pool in cisterns and provides recycled water to the toilets.
The school is named for Northeast architect and civic leader Howard Dilworth Woodson and is located in the Deanwood neighborhood of Ward 7, off of Nannie Helen Burroughs Avenue, a staple street in the ward. The school originally built a few years after the 1968 riots, opened in 1972 and was dubbed the “Tower of Power” for its grand stature, but over the years turned into a hazardous underperforming school. In 2008 the school was shut down and eventually torn down, and rebuilt into the building it is today.
Principal Thomas Whittle said he is happy about the new school, but wants to ensure that it’s not a target for criminal activity because of its sophisticated architecture and new amenities.
The $102 million dollar project is an architectural beauty with large windows and a central atrium.
Woodson is a part of a larger effort by D.C. officials to improve schools east of the Anacostia river. Anacostia High recently completed a phase of the school’s renovation plan with a new gymnasium and Ballou Senior High, located in the Congress Heights community will undergo a major renovation like Woodson, being completely rebuilt.