There's nothing quite like the first day of school. Our daughter started Kindergarten last week, with staff and families welcoming students back with a red carpet and lots of high-fives! As a dad, I couldn't have been happier to see her face light up as she greeted familiar teachers and friends. Of course, putting on my Ward 6 Councilmember hat, I was also pleased to see so many students have a great first day at schools all across Ward 6 this week. My staff and I visited several schools on opening day to check in with principals and parents. Whether major or minor renovations, new principals and teachers, and everything in-between... it seems most people had a great start to the new school year. Let me know what you saw and heard, especially if something didn't go as well as it should have.
Watkins Elementary looks incredible! It was a long time coming, but Watkins Elementary finally completed a major modernization of the entire facility. Modernizing our Ward 6 schools has been a major priority for me, and it was wonderful to cut the ribbon with Mayor Bowser, DCPS Chancellor Wilson, Principal Bell, and dozens of Watkins students. For too many years, Watkins was a great school in a not-so-great building. Now there's a fantastic new building to match the energy and dedication of the wonderful staff and students. I am proud to have been part of the effort to modernize this important part of the Capitol Hill community, and will keep pushing to ensure all of our Ward 6 schools are great places to learn. Head over to my Facebook page for more photos from the ceremony.
2016-2017 public school test scores released: While at Watkins for the building's ribbon cutting, Mayor Bowser and her team released an overview of last school year's PARCC test results, showing significant gains in both math and English language arts across grade levels, ward, race, and economic status. We should all be proud of the many Ward 6 DCPS schools featured at the announcement for 2% or higher gains in both subjects: Capitol Hill Montessori at Logan, Maury ES, Payne ES, School-Within-School at Goding ES, Seaton ES, Stuart-Hobson MS, Walker Jones EC, and Watkins ES, as well as the many public charter schools across the District recognized for high levels of student proficiency as well as strong gains. And while we should congratulate our school leaders, teachers, and students on some significant improvements, we still have a long way to go in terms of closing the achievement gap and ensuring every child is college or career ready by graduation.
Southeast Boulevard Meeting on September 16: DDOT and the Federal Highway Administration will hold a public meeting about the environmental assessment for the Southeast Boulevard and Barney Circle. I've heard from many neighbors in the southern part of Hill East eager to learn more about this project -- this is your chance! The meeting will run 10am to noon on Saturday, September 16, at Friendship Chamberlain Public Charter School. More information here on the project.
Ward 6 Week was bigger and better than ever: I want to say thanks to the hundreds of Ward 6ers who joined us during the nine Ward 6 Week events (with three events rained out, sadly) held July 24-30. From the first event at the Southeast Library to our bike ride through Southwest before the heavy rains came in, I really enjoyed spending time getting to know new and old friends while visiting neighborhoods across the Ward. I hope you and your family were able to join us. Thanks to all of the great community organizations who partnered with us - and especially to everyone who helped us collect more than 500 diapers to donate to the DC Diaper Bank. We have photos posted on the website from each day of Ward 6 Week.
Our 10th Career Fair brings together The Wharf and DC job seekers: On Thursday, August 10, more than 900 Ward 6 and DC residents attended our 10th Career Fair at the beautiful Arena Stage. We brought together many of the large employers who are preparing to open at The Wharf with DC residents who are seeking employment. With more than 1,000 jobs needing to be filled by the time The Wharf opens, it was a perfect opportunity. My office holds this event twice a year, now in partnership with Councilmember Elissa Silverman who chairs the Committee on Labor and Workforce Development.
We work with great nonprofits and the DC Department of Employment Services to bring ready-to-work job seekers together with employers who are ready to hold or schedule interviews, or even hire people on the spot! Knowing how tough it can be to endlessly submit resumes online and never hear another word, I am grateful this event gives each person a little more interaction. I received a very lovely email from Valarie Ashley, Executive Director at the Southeast Ministry, about the event:
"I just received a call from one of my staff who accompanied our participants to the job fair today. She shared with me that of the 11 who we deemed prepped and ready to attend, there are 6 follow-up interviews scheduled between tomorrow and next week. We were one of the groups who came into the process a little later but I wanted you to know and to ask that you extend to CM's Allen and Silverman our appreciation of the kind of effort you all put forth to make the day so successful." ~Valarie Ashley, Executive Director, Southeast Ministry
Capital Bikeshare has an official new app: Attention Capital Bikeshare riders - there's now an official app to use with Capital Bikeshare. I haven't used it yet, so consider this just an FYI if you are either a Bikeshare regular or curious about the technology. It's available for both iOS and Android users.
Name Our Two Newest Ward 6 Parks! The deadline to name the two new parks coming to NoMa has been extended to Sept 1! Click here to learn about the parks and submit your names (no registration required to participate).
Produce Plus Makes Farmers Markets Affordable for All - Some great information to share from the good folks at DC Hunger Solutions: DC residents who receive SNAP, Medicaid, WIC, TANF, SSI Disability, Medicare QMB, or Senior Grocery Plus are eligible for the Produce Plus program. Qualified customers can get $10 per farmers’ market visit up to two times per week to spend on fresh fruits, vegetables, and cut herbs. Customers must pick up Produce Plus checks at one of the distributing farmers’ markets and can visit more than 50 farmers’ markets across the District to use the checks. This program is a great way for District residents to stretch their budget and be able to buy fresh produce. For a list of participating markets, check out this page. For more information about the Produce Plus program, email D.C. Greens at email@example.com, or call the Produce Plus hotline at 202-888-4834.
Please don't hesitate to reach out if I can help with anything or if you need assistance.
202 Arts & Music Festival at Randall Field (free) -- Saturday, September 9, 9am-9pm
Parking Day - Friday, September 15
Southeast Boulevard Environmental Assessment public meeting - Saturday, September 16, 10am-12pm
H Street Festival 2017 - Saturday, September 16, 12-7pm
DC Office of the Tenant Advocate Summit - Saturday, September 16, 9am-5pm
Barracks Row Fall Festival - Saturday, September 23, 11-5 pm
2017 Art All Night: Shaw, H Street, North Capitol Street Saturday, September 23, 7pm-3am
DC State Fair in Southwest - Sunday, September 24, 11am-8pm
DPR Rec Day at Randall Recreation Center, Saturday, September 30, 11am-4pm
Capitol Hill Walk To School Day, Wednesday, October 4, 7:30-8:20am
Homeless Children's Playtime Project Heroes of Play 5K Run/Walk, Saturday, October 14 - 8am
DC Food Waste Collection at Eastern Market - Every Saturday from 9 am to 1 pm at Eastern Market (outside of the Rumsey Aquatic Center)
Southwest DC Community Farmers Market - Every Saturday from 9 am to 1 pm in Lot SW