Temitayo Adeola hadn’t even considered Eastern High School until he received a package from the school near the end of his middle school run. “When they sent me that pamphlet and I saw their budget club and IB [international baccalaureate] programs and AP [advanced placement] and everything they had to offer– I was like wow: they offer a lot that I don’t know about,” Temitayo said.
In August, the 16-year-old will enter his senior year at Eastern, where he is in the second year of the IB program. “Now, I wouldn’t trade Eastern for any other high school,” he said.
Eastern High School (1700 East Capitol St. NE) has about 1100 students in grades 9-12. Founded in 1890, many well-known people have been students there including Dave Chappelle, Congresswoman Gladys Spelman (D-MD), and Isaac Fulwood, former Chief of MPDC. But until recently, its academic rigor was a well-kept secret. Ten years after a modernization and reorganization, Eastern is celebrating the community’s support for their enriched academic programs.
One example of that success is the school’s international baccalaureate (IB) program, which initially attracted Temitayo to Eastern. In June, National Capital Bank (NCB) demonstrated ongoing community support by announcing a $30,000 grant for the program.
“Through The National Capital Bank Foundation, our multi-year partnership will provide financial support for Eastern’s IB program to help achieve its goals of increasing the number of candidates and program passing rate, as well as to provide additional learning experiences,” said NCB President and CEO Richard B. (Randy) Anderson, Jr.
Rigorous for Students –and Schools
Eastern has offered the IB program since 2013. It is a rigorous international program of study that teaches the interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary skills that students need to be successful in college. A study completed of DP programs in Chicago Public Schools also showed that students taking DP courses, regardless of their examination scores, had a higher chance of attending a more selective college and persisting in college.
The IB program is rigorous for students, but also for schools, said Eastern’s IB Program Coordinator, Elizabeth Braganza. Teachers must be trained in their subject matter, retraining whenever curriculum changes or once every seven years. Each course includes three to four opportunities for assessments, including at least two projects and end of year tests. While Eastern staff grade the projects, all teacher grading is then shared with international IB program assessors who double-check grading to make sure it complies with program standards.
The gift from NCB will help grow, support and improve the program, Braganza said. Funds will be used to purchase additional supplies, such as software, scientific calculators and lab equipment and to facilitate travel, both in terms of field trips and college visits. It will also be used to train staff beyond the two spaces funded by DCPS, ensuring that Eastern remains in compliance with IB standards and allowing them to offer a wider array of courses.
Theory of Knowledge
A cornerstone of the IB program is the Theory of Knowledge (TOK) course, a study of epistemology that looks in particular at how knowledge and theories of knowledge are formed. Course teacher Lee James leads the course, a two-year requirement that culminates in a research paper in which students apply class discussion to a specific issue. The paper requires college-level research and synthesis and undergoes multiple revisions before it is presented to peers.
“They’re all great students that have excelled academically with all the challenges they have met so far, and now they are presented with the next level,” James said. “It’s fun to see them take on these challenges, get frustrated and come back to it. They learn a new skillset.”
James said that some students have chosen to examine the role of language in knowledge acquisition in the arts using the crossover hits of K-Pop sensation BTS. Another student examined the role of memory and psychology in the Michael Brown case.
James invites parents and students who are curious about the program and the school to sit in on an IB class. “Come and see all of the amazing things that we’re doing,” he said. “Come see for yourself.”
Eastern is one of only two DC Public Schools offering the IB program. It is also the only comprehensive high school to do so; the other program is located at application-only Banneker High School (921 Rhode Island Ave. NW). The diverse programming offered in addition to IB reflects Eastern’s increasing strength as a rigorous academic institution and the various opportunities to build on individual talents available at the school. In addition to IB, Eastern offers AP courses; a NAF Academy of Health Sciences where students can be certified as EMTs; debate and chess clubs; dual college enrollment and a Junior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (JROTC) program, in addition to the football, basketball and volleyball teams. That’s all on top of Eastern’s well-known marching band and dance corps.
Eastern students have been recognized for their academic talents, winning multiple Stephen Joel Trachtenberg Scholarships at George Washington University, a scholarship which covers tuition, books, room and board for all four years. In 2016, then-sophomore Akilah Johnson won the national Google Doodle Competition, scoring a college scholarship for herself and a $50,000 technology grant for the school.
Temitayo said that he has spoken to people who think Eastern doesn’t have strong academics, but he wants people to know the depth of the offerings at Eastern. If your kid wants to go into health, Eastern has that, Temitayo noted; if your kid wants to go into the military, music, visual arts, theatre, they have that, too.
And if they want to develop the skills necessary to engage globally and succeed at college, there’s the IB program.
“The list can go on and on,” Temitayo said, “but what I want parents to know is: Eastern definitely would provide whatever your child needs. It can be personal, it can be emotional, it can be academic. Eastern would definitely suit your child’s needs, no matter what they want.”
Learn more about Eastern by visiting easternhighschooldcps.org.