**FILE PHOTO** (Courtesy of DCPS via Twitter)

Members of the High School Graduation Requirements Task Force have concluded their first meeting and updates on their work can be found at sboe.dc.gov/gradreqs.

Meanwhile, District residents may stay involved and provide input throughout in a variety of ways. They, as well as other individuals and representatives of organizations, can submit written testimony or information for consideration by the task force by emailing sboe@dc.gov.

School Suspensions, Expulsions

A recent report by The Every Student Every Day Coalition has shed light on the overuse of suspension in both the District’s traditional public and charter schools.

In the report, titled “DC Schools Overuse Suspensions and Expulsions,” research reveals that being excluded from the classroom for disciplinary reasons causes students to be less likely to advance in school and more likely to become involved in the juvenile justice system.

In addition, data from DCPS and the Public Charter School Board show that D.C. issued more than 18,000 suspensions during the 2011-12 school year and suspended more than 13 percent of enrolled students at least once during that school year.

The report, authored by DC Lawyers for Youth, goes on to recommend how the District can take steps to reduce its suspension and expulsion rates.

DCPS Goes to College

Jewel Cauley, a recent graduate of Anacostia Senior High School in Southeast, has been preparing herself for college.

“I’m excited to meet and interact with new people, and to get the college experience,” she said.

Outside of class, Jewel kept busy as a member of the National Honor Society, captain of the cheerleading team, and a tutor at both Orr and Ketcham elementary schools.

When reflecting on her time at Anacostia, Jewel said her high school defies assumptions.

“This is a good school, it’ll prepare you for college, and the students are willing to learn,” said Jewel, who plans to be a nursing major at North Carolina A&T because she “likes giving people a helping hand.”

Long before graduating, Garnell Walker has had a mind for business.

“I grew up around business. My mom and dad have owned several establishments, and I actually have my own clothing line,” Garnell said. “Eventually, I’d like to own my business and invest in others.”

It’s no surprise, then, that Garnell plans to study business and management next fall at Bowie State University in Maryland — a step he’ll be able to take because of the help he’s gotten at Ballou STAY.

“If you come here, you’ll get a chance. They’re going to lead you down the right path,” Garnell said.

Summer Travel to Costa Rica

Students who participated this summer in DCPS’s trip to Costa Rica said it was all about culture and adventure.

“We made a very special visit to Jorges Tia’s house where we got to experience Costa Rican life firsthand,” one student wrote in a blog. “She made us the most amazing Arroz con Pollo y frijoles and then took time to give us an art lesson in the park.

“While painting in the park, we were greeted by 5 niños who talked, laughed and played with us, giving us the opportunity to practice our Spanish, while also allowing us to teach them a little English,” the student wrote. “Then we drove through the most beautiful greenery to the zip lining facility. Quite a few of us were afraid (including the adults) but we made it through together.”

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