Duncan Greets Students on First Day of School

(Official Department of Education Photo by Joshua Hoover)

For many high school students, the first day of school usually involves shuffling through the halls trying to find next period’s classroom and comparing class schedules with friends, but for students at Eastern High in Washington, DC, the first day also involved a warm welcome from Secretary Arne Duncan, DC Mayor Vincent Gray, and DC Public Schools Chancellor Kaya Henderson.

After greeting the students and touring the school’s facilities, Secretary Duncan addressed Eastern’s student body with an inspiring address. In his remarks, the Secretary articulated how ED’s policies would affect schools in DC and nationwide.

(Official Department of Education Photo by Joshua Hoover)

As a Turnaround School, Eastern is eligible for additional funding from the federal government to raise expectations, improve the quality of teaching, and provide students with the help they need to graduate and be ready to go to college and enter the workforce. ED and the Obama Administration have made a significant investment – more than $4 billion – to help states turn around their lowest performing schools. Duncan outlined how more than 1,000 schools throughout the country are using Turnaround grant money to increase education outcomes.

Duncan emphasized that Mayor Gray, Chancellor Henderson and Principal Rachel Skerritt were committed to executing an effective turnaround plan for the school.

“Eastern’s turnaround is built around four key values: Excellence, Scholarship, Honor, and Service,” Duncan said, following Mayor Gray’s remarks about the vital contributions that Eastern alumni had made to Washington and to the world.

Duncan also discussed how excellence in Eastern’s curriculum was emerging through more rigorous academic offerings. The school is adding an International Baccalaureate program and is preparing to offer Advanced Placement programs when the Class of 2015 reaches the upper grades.

Additionally, Duncan praised the more than 60 students who joined the Health and Medical Sciences Academy, a program that will help prepare them to work in one of the fastest growing fields in America’s future economy.

The Secretary finished his remarks by encouraging the students to pursue a college education and to work hard in all of their future endeavors.


  1. I am pleased that Mr. Duncan greeted the children on their first day of school. It will be remembered by them for the rest of their lives. I am the mother of a bright 15 year old son who was placed in a Special Ed. classroom because of an error since he was in 1st grade. He learned how to read when he was in Kindergarten, and has never taken any special ed. classes. He always took regular classes and succeeded highly because he had a high IQ. Bullied to the point of being taken out of school 4-times by his Doctor, he has had a hard time at attending school. He loves Science and Math and would like to be a Astro-Physicist. He plays Chess, invented and designed a board game similar to Chess, and believes that God has already given us the solution to the energy crisis, but we have not tapped into it yet. All of these wonderful ideas are lost because he is an African American living here in Waco, Texas. I would like to see Education include children like my son who maybe black, white, mexican, asian, and any other race. From the crime ridden parts of the Projects to the crime ridden parts of trailer parks. There are some very smart males and females living in these places and in apartments with divorced single parents like myself. My son and others like him can change America for the better, but they must have a voice, they must have programs designed to test their intellect, and place them in bully free environments so that they can create instead of be afraid for their safety. When America truly becomes the land of the Free and The Brave by investing in ALL children not just those whose parents are educators, or professionals, then it will be able to reap the harvest of their investment. These are the children that do not have a voice or representation like my son. America must Invest not only in their abilities but what those abilities can do for this country. That’s what I believe will enhance the Eduational system and produce great Sons and Daugthers who are Christians, who are smart, and who share in our belief that America can compete in this Global, High Tech world with God’s help!

  2. May God continue to bless and director the principal and students at Eastern High School and may they all have a wonderful and great school year…

  3. Education leaders should help principals implement programs that lower behavior problems at schools especially on the high school level.

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