Courtesy of My School DC via Twitter
Courtesy of My School DC via Twitter

The sixth annual EdFEST that showcases DC public school options will feature a few new highlights when doors open at the DC Armory in Southeast on Dec. 14.

Children in attendance from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. will receive free boxed lunches from DC Central Kitchen of Northwest, as supplies last.

A special needs booth will supply parents with information and representatives from D.C. Office of the State Superintendent of Education, advocates and other officials on services available for students, learn the individualized education plan (IEP) and what to expect from the city’s public schools.

“The main purpose of the event is to showcase our schools,” said Cat Peritti, executive director of My School DC. “We have 100 percent participation as we’ve had in years past of all public charter and all traditional public schools.”

Peritti said nearly 7,000 people attended last year’s free event for children whose parents or guardians seek to enroll them in school, pre-kindergarten through 12th grade.

More than 200 DCPS and public charter schools will have booths on various programs as in previous years along with after care, science and technology and music and performing arts. The event, scheduled to end at 3 p.m., will also provide resources from the city’s Departments of Health, Human Services and Transportation.

The biggest draw, Peritti says, remains those parents with children entering or in stages associated with early childhood education. One side of the armory will feature programs from pre-kindergarten to eighth grade – the other will target high school programs.

Additionally, at EdFEST, children can receive free flu shots, other vaccinations and participate in fun activities.

Although parents can choose up to 12 schools through HYPERLINK “”, the common application and lottery process scheduled to launch Dec. 16, officials stress adhering to deadlines pertaining to specific age groups remains essential. High School students may apply through Feb. 3 while students in pre-kindergarten through eighth grade have until March 2.

Peritti said DCPS offers unique educational opportunities that most school systems in the D.C. region don’t offer including universal pre-kindergarten which provides programs for all children regardless of income.

As an indication of the commitment to athletics, the District recently featured its annual Thanksgiving Day Turkey Bowl high school football game that celebrated its 50th year last week.

Attendees with limited English or those who number among the deaf or hearing loss community, sign language interpreters and those who speak Spanish, Amharic, French, Mandarin and Vietnamese will be available throughout the four-hour event.

“We’ve got a lot of options here in the District with many schools that offer small class sizes, highly qualified teachers or performance levels that can definitely be competitive [with] the private school system,” Peritti said.

“That’s the whole point of EdFEST – to hear it straight from the school staff themselves to let the parents ask those hard questions,” she said. “Families will be able to interact directly with the school staff and decide for themselves.”

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