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PRESS RELEASE: Mayor Bowser Cuts the Ribbon on New Banneker Academic High School

Saturday, August 28, 2021

(WASHINGTON, DC) – Today, Mayor Muriel Bowser, DC Public Schools Chancellor Lewis D. Ferebee, and longtime Banneker Principal Anita Berger cut the ribbon on the new Benjamin Banneker Academic High School. Mayor Bowser was joined by Ward 6 Councilmember Charles Allen, At-Large Councilmember Anita Bonds, Ward 7 Councilmember Vincent Gray, Ward 2 Councilmember Brooke Pinto, Department of General Services Director Keith A. Anderson, as well as members of the community. The ribbon cutting was followed by a community celebration with free food, music, and COVID-19 vaccinations, to mark the historic occasion.

“For 40 years, Banneker students and educators have made DC proud. Today, we deliver on our promise to the Banneker community with a world-class facility that embodies their decades-long commitment to academic excellence,” said Mayor Bowser. “We recognize that our community now has this stunning school because our Banneker Achievers refused to settle for anything less than what they deserved. The best part of all of this: we can now deliver the highest quality Banneker education to even more young people in our city — and that should make us all proud.”

The $135.1M project includes more than 30 classrooms and specialty labs for science courses, lab spaces with the latest technology, resource rooms that include spaces for small group projects and instruction, as well as gym and cafeteria spaces. Every level of the vertical four-story campus will engage the Learning Commons (the heart of the building), providing formal and informal places to gather, socialize, and collaborate. The new building, which spans 175,000 square feet, will be both Net Zero Energy Ready and is slated for LEED Gold certification.

“Today, our community came out to celebrate the start of the new school year and the new home for Banneker students,” said Chancellor Lewis D. Ferebee. “Banneker’s innovative new school building places learning and community at the heart of its design. Most importantly, it expands our enrollment capacity and will allow us to provide more students with the Banneker experience.”

Benjamin Banneker Academic High School opened for students in 1981 as an alternative high school where students in ninth through twelfth grades can engage in rigorous and varied academic experiences. The school has been an International Baccalaureate World School since 2001. In 2017, Banneker was also recognized as a National Blue Ribbon school.

“We have worked for many years to reach this moment,” said Principal Anita Berger. “It is all of our hard work that has led to this new facility for Banneker students. Today signals the chance to witness the fruits of our labor in the dedication of this state-of-the-art school.”

As one of the highest performing public schools in the District of Columbia, Banneker is open to students in all eight wards of the city through an application process. This year, Banneker will welcome nearly 600 students, and will be able to accommodate 800 students by School Year 2025.

“Our goal was to design a new building that retains the college-bound educational culture for which Banneker is known,” said DGS Director Keith A. Anderson. “That’s exactly what’s inside – an open space with a college-level ambiance that includes state-of-the-art labs, instructional spaces, a new auditorium, multi-purpose room, cafeteria and gymnasium. It’s a school for the future.”

New features of the new Banneker Academic High School include:

  • A track and recreational field, skatepark, dog park, a tennis court, two basketball courts, an outdoor fitness area, and multiple areas of outdoor seating.
  • Net Zero readiness, making the building produce as much energy as it uses, thereby saving in future energy costs.
  • State-of-the-art building efficiencies including a geothermal water source heat pump system underground and solar panels installed on the roof of the building and on the canopies located above the athletic field bleachers, and staff parking lot.

  • An overall building design that mimics and supports a collegiate-level educational environment and original local artwork throughout provided by the DGS ‘Percent for Art’ program.