Ellington's New Season

By Tia Powell-Harris, CEO, and Sandi Logan, principal

Tia Powell-Harris. Photos by Brian Nielsen.

Tia Powell-Harris. Photos by Brian Nielsen.

The Duke Ellington School of the Arts is showcasing a brilliant and exciting arts series this fall. Ellington Arts! 2018—where students share their talents and professional skills during exhibitions and performances—promises to inspire and activate the school community, neighborhood, and all of Washington, DC.

The season begins in October with “Pulling It Together,” an exhibition curated by the Museum Studies Department. The exhibit features artwork created by current and retired teachers throughout the DC Public School system. On October 20, the school hosts its annual fall fundraiser and community fun day, March for the Arts. In November and December, neighbors are invited to attend a variety of concerts and showcases presented by the Instrumental Music, Vocal Music, and Theatre Departments. The calendar year wraps up on December 1, with a holiday bazaar and mini concert, part of the new public programming series @35th&R.

March for the Arts takes place on Saturday, Oct. 20.

March for the Arts takes place on Saturday, Oct. 20.

All proceeds from ticket sales go directly to support the sponsoring departments, and community attendance is another way to support the arts and gifted students who are responsible for the audience experience from costumes and production to technical design and performances.

Duke Ellington was established in 1974 by the legendary DC activist and avid art collector Peggy Cooper Cafritz and the late dancer and choreographer Mike Malone. They envisioned a new kind of learning experience, a place where the District’s youth would receive world-class arts training alongside rigorous academic instruction. In 2000, the natural public and private partnerships surrounding the school coalesced into the Duke Ellington School of the Arts Project (DESAP)—which includes DCPS, The Ellington Fund, the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, and The George Washington University. Charles Barber, Esq., of GWU serves as president of DESAP board of directors. Today, Ellington remains the sole DC public high school to offer a dual curriculum encompassing professional arts training and academic enrichment, in preparation for college, careers in the arts, and future leadership.


Last year, all 118 Ellington seniors graduated and demonstrated overall growth in AP Examinations (5 percent) compared to District averages (3 percent), as well as 6 percent growth on the Math PARCC Exam and scored approximately 12% higher than the District average on the ELA PARCC Exam. In addition to these impressive scores, every single Visual Arts student passed the Studio Art AP Exam, and 86 percent of Instrumental Music students passed the Music Theory AP Exam.

Last year was a big year for students and the building itself. Ellington returned home to Burleith, to a newly modernized building where every square foot represents state-of-the-art learning and creating spaces. There are a number of reasons to visit the historic building that houses DC’s creative soul. From banners, book talks, and documentaries, to oral histories and community forums, the school’s artist-citizens will forge artistic explorations around the school-wide theme Education is Freedom, Art is Power!

Forging even stronger connections to the community, Ellington has appointed Burleith’s own Kay Twomey to the DESAP board of directors. Kay is a member of the BCA board and president of the Burleith Community Fund. Charles Barber stated that, “The entire DESAP board is happy to have Kay as a new member.” As CEO, I am thrilled as I look forward to working with Kay.

For more information, visit www.ellingtonschool.org. Keep up @ DukeEllingtonDC on your favorite social media platforms.