Located in historic Washington Park, Booker T. Washington High School serves students residing in Washington Park, Vine City, West End and other southwest Atlanta neighborhoods. Named to honor the famed educator, Washington High School was the first public high school in the State of Georgia and the City of Atlanta to serve African American students. This year, Washington High is celebrating its 95th anniversary.
As Washington High endeavors to preserve its legacy of providing high quality education, a key strategy includes a dress code that requires students to wear uniforms beginning in 2020. This strategy supports a positive learning climate, as research indicates that school uniforms reduces peer pressure and bullying. 1
Unfortunately, the financial reality for many students attending Washington High means adhering to the dress code may not be possible. At Washington, 100% of students are eligible for free-and-reduced priced lunch, and 70.4% of students are “directly certified,” meaning someone in their household receives assistance under the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) cash assistance program, or the student experiences homelessness, is in foster care or is considered an unaccompanied youth or migrant.2
With the assistance of the District Grant, Rotary Club of Atlanta West End supported freshman at Washington High through purchasing 79 polo shirts, easing the cost burden on the dress code for families. Rotary also provided students with printed Four-Way Test cards, hoping those words would influence their decision-making as they navigate through life. Students were selected to receive the shirts based on need and the school’s “ABC” system, which emphasizes attendance, positive behavior and credit (i.e., those who make honor roll). Items were distributed to students on November 22 at the Washington High’s partner breakfast, where five Atlanta West End Rotarians were in attendance.
During the breakfast, Washington’s principal, Dr. Coaxum-Young, presented an inspiring vision for moving the school forward for the next 95 years. She seeks to build on the legacy of the school’s namesake to develop a STEM program that includes a comprehensive agricultural science component focused on 21st century issues: sustainability, urban agriculture and environmentalism. Per Dr. Coaxum-Young, this vision cannot be reached without first building the foundation for learning, a positive school climate. Atlanta West End Rotary is proud to play a role in building this climate through the District Grant fund.
1Tucker, Kalen. National Survey of School Leaders Reveals 2013 School Uniform Trends. https://www.naesp.org/national-survey-school-leade...