Ballou High School

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Ballou High School
BallouHS DC.jpg
Ballou Senior High School (former building)
3401 Fourth Street Southeast[1]
District of Columbia, DC 20032
United States
School type Public high school
Established 1958
School district District of Columbia Public Schools Ward 8
Principal Dr. Yetunde Reeves
Faculty 88.0 (on FTE basis)[2]
Grades 9 to 12
Enrollment 933 (2015-16)[3]
Student to teacher ratio 13.20[2]
Campus type Urban
Color(s)      Blue
Mascot Knights

Frank W. Ballou Senior High School is a public school located in Washington, D.C., United States. Ballou is a part of the District of Columbia Public Schools. The principal is Dr. Yetunde Reeves. The marching band traveled to the 2009 Tournament of Roses Parade in Pasadena, California[4] and the 2009 Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade.


Ballou High School was founded in the early 1960s to serve residents in the southern part of Anacostia, including Congress Heights, Washington Highlands, and Bellevue. The school was named for Dr. Frank Washington Ballou, superintendent of the DC public schools from 1920 to 1943.[5] Ballou SHS is known for having one of the best choirs and bands in the District. The Ballou SHS band has traveled to California and Alabama and placed in the top three in both national competitions. The Ballou SHS band[6] is directed by Mr. Darrell Watson.[6] and his all volunteer Ballou alumni staff. The Ballou choir directed by Gary Stanley has been one of the more positive aspects of the school. They have traveled and performed in various states such as North Carolina, South Carolina, and Florida just to name a few. The choir and the band have also affected the type of media the school has gotten in the last couple of years. They have brought a more positive outlook on the school and the students who attend. In addition to an outstanding band and choir, Ballou is known as one of the best athletic programs in the area. Ballou over the years has produced several DCIAA City Champions and many NCAA Scholarship Athletes.

The previous principal Dr Art Bridges is the Uncle of Rapper/Actor Chris (Ludacris) Bridges. Ludacris has visited Ballou several times to give motivation speeches to the youth.

In 1998, author Ron Suskind published the book "A Hope in the Unseen" about a Ballou High School student named Cedric Jennings. The book was based on a series of Pulitzer-prize winning articles written in the Wall Street Journal by Suskind. The story follows Jennings efforts to attend an Ivy League University in spite of his troubled upbringing.

In 2003 a major instance of mercury being spread throughout the school caused for its closure for several weeks and the redirection of students and staff to nearby educational facilities.

On February 2, 2004, 19-year-old Thomas J. Boykin fatally shot 17-year-old James Richardson. Boykin was later acquitted on the charge of murder.[7]

In 2008, director Michael Patrei, released a documentary "[Ballou,(*Ballou Documentary Official Website)," about the Ballou High School Marching Band that will air on BET.[8] Fall 2009.

NBC4 News reported another shooting on August 26, 2008 of a 16-year-old just off the campus grounds resulting in a lock-down of the campus.

From August 2016 to May 2017 about 25% of the staff left the school; this occurred as almost 200 DCPS teachers left their jobs.[9]

Feeder patterns[edit]

The following elementary schools feed into Ballou: Garfield, Hendley, M. L. King, Leckie, Malcolm X, Patterson, Simon, and Turner.

The following middle schools feed into Ballou: Charles Hart Middle School and John Hayden Johnson Middle School.


Sources: National Center for Education Statistics, 2010–2011

  • 98.0% African American students
  • 2% White students
  • 82 teachers
  • 85.2% attendance
  • 14/1 student teacher ratio
  • 916 total students

Academic performance[edit]

In 2016 3% of the students had proficiency in DC reading standards according to DC tests.[9]

In 2017, all 189 students in Ballou High School's senior class applied to college.[10] It was the first time the high school's entire senior class had applied to college.[10] The high school credited its college-prep classes and a school-wide campaign to apply to college.[10] As of the summer of 2017 all 170 members of the graduating class of 2017 were accepted to universities; an additional 20 students had August graduations scheduled.[9]

Notable alumni[edit]

  • Marvin Austin (2007), college football defensive tackle at UNC Chapel Hill, taken by the New York Giants in the 2nd round of the 2011 NFL Draft.
  • Larry Pinkard (2010), played college football for Old Dominion University, and in the National Football League for multiple teams since 2015.
  • Noel Cyrus (1978), athlete and teacher, 3-time All-American soccer and track; continued to play at Frostburg University winning multiple All-American honors and eventually inducted in the schools Athletic Hall of fame. Now a Business and Finance teacher at the school.
  • Rodney D. Edge (1979), Played Football and ran Track on Ballou City Champion Track Teams. College Track and Field Athlete at Northwest Missouri State University; Athletic Honors and enrolled in the Northwest Missouri State University Athletic Hall of Fame. Author of several books and publications. Colonel in the United States Military. Serves as a Diplomatic Advisor to the Saudi Arabian Government. Graduate of Northwest Missouri State University, Central Michigan University, the Command and General Staff College, and the Industrial College of the Armed Forces. Served as a combat Battalion Commander in Afghanistan with the 10th Mountain Division.
  • Danny Gatton, one of Rolling Stone magazine's top guitarists of all time, attended but did not graduate. Named album 88 Elmira Street after Congress Heights street where he grew up.
  • Essex Hemphill (1975), poet and activist, known for his activism in the African American and LGBT communities.[11]
  • Cedric Jennings, profiled in the 1998 biography A Hope in the Unseen by Ron Suskind. The book follows Cedric as he leaves Ballou and attends college at Brown University.[12]
  • Karen Yvonne Lucas, PMP, PgMP, CISA, CISSP (1988), 1st black woman worldwide to pass the Project Management Institute (PMI) Program Management Professional (PgMP) exam.[13] For the first ten (10) years she was one (1) of three (3) black women in the United States to hold the credential - establishing her as a leader in the ethical management of multimillion-dollar initiatives, programs and projects. The PgMP credential is required to oversee US Federal Government Programs of high national security risk, multimillion-dollar investment, or agency mission critical. There are 1760 PgMP in the world, 1000 in the United States (2017).[14] Karen attended Delaware State College on a full athletic scholarship but transferred after one year to attend Howard University. Majoring in Political Science she served as the President of the Charles Hamilton Houston Pre-Law Society and the National Association of Black Women Attorneys, undergraduate chapter, before graduating with her Bachelors (1992) and Masters (1996). Karen has returned to the Congress Heights community, first as a Coach, and now as an active advocate for her neighbors and Ballou High School. In 2016, after the Honorable Marion S. Barry passed, there was a push to rename Ballou for Barry. Karen organized a coalition of Ballou Alumni (from the 1st graduating class to the 2016 class), the community, and current students to launch a petition, advocacy and media campaign to stop the renaming thus the hash tag, #BALLOU4LIFE.[15] To ensure that the neighborhood and school continued to have a protective advocate she ran for and won the position of Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner (ANC) for the Single Member District (SMD) 8C01.[16][17]
  • Taraji P. Henson (c/o 1988) is an American actress who attended Frank W. Ballou Sr. High School for her freshman year (1984–85) before transferring to Oxon Hill High School (Oxon Hill, MD) and graduating from there (1988). Taraji was raised on Livingston Road and though it was a hard neighborhood (her mother was mugged twice before her) she maintained an effervescent and humorous personality and was known as the class clown at Ballou.[18] After graduating high school she went on to attend North Carolina Agriculture and Technical (NC A&T) University majoring in Engineering. After her freshman year she transferred to Howard University to pursue her dream at Howard University’s theater program. While studying at Howard she gave birth to her son, Marcel. Taraji graduated Howard University in 1996 and left for Hollywood.[19]
  • Edward M. Lavin, Attorney (Colonel, US Air Force, Retired), Class of 1965.
  • Mike Locksley (1988), head football coach at the University of New Mexico
  • Duane A. Moody (1988), theatre actor and singer. Moody has excelled to operatic, musical and theatre heights not before seen from Ballou Sr. High. He has performed roles such as 'Sportin Life' in Porgy and Bess and now performs with the acclaimed Broadway show Three Mo Tenors. The tenors of Three Mo’ Tenors are men who have developed a musical repertoire with astonishing breadth. Like Olympic decathlon athletes, these classically trained, multi-talented operatic tenors can do it all! They have mastered not only operatic music, but also jazz, gospel, soul, spirituals, New School, Broadway, and the blues as well.[20]
  • Michael Patrei[5], documentary film director, directed a 2008 documentary film, (*Ballou Documentary Official Website), on the Ballou High School band to tell the story of Ballou from band camp to the national band competition.[6]
  • Kevin Richardson (1982), Journalist and videographer for The Baltimore Sun newspaper and website. He is assigned to covers the Baltimore Ravens, Orioles and mixed martial arts. He is an award-winning artist and his murals and art can be scene around the world.[21]
  • David Venable (1998) athlete and coach, 2-time All Conference football, team Most Valuable Player (football and baseball); Graduated from Bowie State University (English Education) Masters in Theology (Cornerstone Christian University) now serves as Pastor of Cathedral of Christ Baptist Church in Capital Heights, Md.
  • Trayon White (2002), community activist and former member of the District of Columbia State Board of Education[22] and Ward 8 Representative on the Council of the District of Columbia.[23]


  1. ^ GNIS entry for Ballou Senior High School; USGS; December 6, 2011.
  2. ^ a b National Center for Education Statistics. Accessed December 6, 2011.
  3. ^ DCPS School Profile. Accessed June 1, 2017.
  4. ^ Rose Parade Participants Archived December 18, 2008, at the Wayback Machine.
  5. ^
  6. ^ a b c [1]
  7. ^ "Teen Acquitted Of Murder in Ballou Shooting," The Washington Post
  8. ^ [2]
  9. ^ a b c Ramirez, Stephanie (2017). "Entire class accepted into college, Ballou HS makes history". WUSA. Retrieved 2017-07-06. 
  10. ^ a b c Ford, Sam. "Entire senior class at D.C.'s Ballou High School applies to college for first time". WJLA. March 6, 2017.
  11. ^ Duberman, Martin (2014). Hold Tight Gently: Michael Callen, Essex Hemphill, and the Battlefield of AIDS. The New Press. p. 25. ISBN 978-1-59558-945-3. 
  12. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2011-09-27. Retrieved 2011-09-27. 
  13. ^ "PMI Online Registry". Retrieved 2017-04-11. 
  14. ^ "How Many PgMP Certified in the World - Google Search". Retrieved 2017-04-11. 
  15. ^ Cornish, Stephanie (2016-02-24). "'Barry High School' Elicits Strong Community Reaction | Afro". Afro. Retrieved 2017-04-11. 
  16. ^ "Advisory Neighborhood Commission 8C | anc". Retrieved 2017-04-11. 
  17. ^ "General Election 2016 - Certified Results". Retrieved 2017-04-11. 
  18. ^ "25 Things You Don't Know About Me: Taraji P. Henson". Retrieved 2017-04-11. 
  19. ^ "Taraji P. Henson facts, information, pictures | articles about Taraji P. Henson". Retrieved 2017-04-11. 
  20. ^ [3][4]
  21. ^
  22. ^ Wright, James (February 24, 2016). "'Barry High School' Elicits Strong Community Reaction". The Afro-American. Retrieved June 18, 2016. 
  23. ^ "Councilmember Trayon White, Sr". Retrieved 2017-06-01. 

Coordinates: 38°50′25.2″N 77°0′4.8″W / 38.840333°N 77.001333°W / 38.840333; -77.001333