The front steps of Calvin Coolidge Senior High School were filled last weekend with generations of alumni who came home to be part of the grand reopening of their school and the new, adjacent Ida B. Wells Middle School.
D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser, Council member Brandon Todd (D-Ward 4) and host of community and education leaders took part Saturday, Aug. 24 in the dedication ceremony for the two schools.
“C-O-O-L-I-D-G-E spells Coolidge!” said Bowser, reciting the school cheer as she shouted out the various graduating classes in attendance. “I want to be the first to welcome home the Coolidge Colts!”
As he stood on the Coolidge steps, Todd told The Washington Informer, “This means a lot to Ward 4 families, especially when you can open up a $160 million renovated school.”
Coolidge is really three schools in one. Its Academy of Health Sciences allows students to take science electives, core courses and vocational classes to earn certifications in nursing or first aid.
The school will also have a Mass Media Academy, where students can take journalism classes and earn certifications for programs such as Adobe Premier. Coolidge’s Early College Academy where 11th- and 12th-grade students can earn up to 60 college credits by take courses with partnering universities.
“This is going to be a cluster of excellence in education,” said DCPS Chancellor Lewis Ferebee. “We have Whittier education campus across the street that had historic gains, we have Ida B. Wells opening on this campus and now you have the mighty Coolidge High School. We are very focused here on career opportunities.”
The mayor and city officials also dedicated the new Ida B. Wells school that will welcome a sixth grade class of students from Brightwood EC, LaSalle-Backus EC, Takoma EC, Whittier EC. Each year, a grade will be added at Wells, which will have a comprehensive middle school program.
In attendance at Saturday’s event were people who had found memories of the past such as Hellen Williams, whose husband donated a substantial amount of money to renovate the school.
“It’s a new day at Coolidge,” Williams said. “All of the new things that are coming, all of the new children who are coming and one thing that my husband loved was children.”
Terry Goings, president of the Coolidge Alumni Association, said, “This is about bettering our community as we move forward. Coolidge was the last traditional high school to be modernized but as far as Coolidge, you see all of the alumni out here because we care about our school.”