Ballou High School

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Ballou High School
3401 Fourth Street Southeast[1]


Coordinates38°50′25.2″N 77°0′4.8″W / 38.840333°N 77.001333°W / 38.840333; -77.001333Coordinates: 38°50′25.2″N 77°0′4.8″W / 38.840333°N 77.001333°W / 38.840333; -77.001333
TypePublic high school
Established1960; 60 years ago (1960)
School districtDistrict of Columbia Public Schools Ward 8
PrincipalDr. Willie Jackson
Faculty88.0 (on a FTE basis)[4]
Grades9 to 12
Enrollment933 (2015-16)[3]
Student to teacher ratio13.20[4]
Campus size350,000 Sq ft[2]
Campus typeUrban
Color(s)Blue and Gold   

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. Willie Jackson (an Alumni from the class of 1987). The marching band traveled to the 2009 Tournament of Roses Parade in Pasadena, California[5] 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.[6] 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[citation needed]. The Ballou SHS band[7] is directed by Mr. Darrell Watson.[7] and his all volunteer Ballou alumni staff. Ballou has produced several DCIAA City Champions and many NCAA Scholarship Athletes[citation needed].

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.[8]

In 2008, director Michael Patrei, released a documentary Ballou[9] about the Ballou High School Marching Band that aired on BET.[10] during 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.[11]

Attendance zones and feeder patterns[edit]

Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling is within Ballou's attendance boundary.[12][13]

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[citation needed]

Academic performance[edit]

In 2016 3% of the students had proficiency in DC reading standards according to DC tests.[11]

In 2017, all 189 students in Ballou High School's senior class applied to college.[14] It was the first time the high school's entire senior class had applied to college.[14] The high school credited its college-prep classes and a school-wide campaign to apply to college.[14] 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.[11] In November 2017, it came to light that Ballou's administration had graduated dozens of students despite high rates of unexcused absences. Half of the graduates missed more than three months of school in their senior year, unexcused; one in five students were absent more than they were present, and when many of these students did attend school they struggled academically. Two months before graduation, only 57 students were on track to graduate. Brian Butcher, a history teacher at Ballou, said the claim of all students graduating was "smoke and mirrors. That is what it was."[15]

School of Mathematics, Science and Technology[edit]

Ballou SHS Announcement Math-Science Program in 1975

In September 1975, Ballou SHS opened their School of Mathematics, Science and Technology.[16] At that time, the program was considered one of the most sophisticated curricula in the city. One intention was to develop within Ballou a "Magnet" High School of Science and Mathematics to emphasize:

  • The preparation of students for entrance into Colleges and Universities
  • The provision of prerequisite skills for students who planned on technical training or employment immediately after high school.


In February 1977, six employees from the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) began tutoring Ballou students in computer technology, photogrammetry and photo science.[17] Parents, teachers, and lawmakers expressed concerns about privacy and student recruitment after learning of the program months after it had already begun.[18] The CIA denied that they were recruiting or violating privacy within the school.[19]

Notable alumni[edit]


  1. ^ GNIS entry for Ballou Senior High School; USGS; December 6, 2011.
  2. ^ HESS: Ballou Senior High School. Accessed September 19, 2018.[permanent dead link]
  3. ^ DCPS School Profile. Accessed June 1, 2017.
  4. ^ a b National Center for Education Statistics. Accessed December 6, 2011.
  5. ^ Rose Parade Participants Archived December 18, 2008, at the Wayback Machine
  6. ^
  7. ^ a b [1]
  8. ^ "Teen Acquitted Of Murder in Ballou Shooting," The Washington Post
  9. ^ "Ballou". Retrieved 2012-12-06.
  10. ^ [2]
  11. ^ a b c Ramirez, Stephanie (2017). "Entire class accepted into college, Ballou HS makes history". WUSA. Retrieved 2017-07-06.
  12. ^ Home. Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling. Retrieved on September 2, 2018. "Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling 20 MacDill Blvd. Washington, D.C. 20032-7711"
  13. ^ "High School Boundary Map Archived 2017-01-31 at the Wayback Machine" (2016-2017 School Year). District of Columbia Public Schools. Retrieved on September 2, 2018.
  14. ^ 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.
  15. ^ McGee, Kate (2017-11-28). "What Really Happened At Ballou, The D.C. High School Where Every Senior Got Into College". WAMU. Retrieved 2017-12-07.
  16. ^ Ephemera from Ballou SHS vertical file in the collection at the Charles Sumner School Museum and Archives in Washington, D.C.
  17. ^ Raspberry, William (June 1, 1977). "So the CIA Tutors - What's the Big Deal?". The Washington Post.
  18. ^ Newell, R.C. (May 28, 1977). "Dellums asks 'briefing' on CIA at Ballou High". The Washington Afro-American.
  19. ^ Dunson, Lynn (1977). "CIA Says It's Not Recruiting Spies in Tutoring Program at Ballou High School". Washington Star.
  20. ^ Maese, Rick (25 April 2011). "NFL draft: Marvin Austin puts UNC agent scandal behind him". Washington Post.
  21. ^ "Member Profile: Wayne Ford". Iowa House Democrats. 27 February 2009. Retrieved 18 August 2020.
  22. ^ Kiviat, Steve (September 25, 2015). "Remembering D.C. Guitar Virtuoso Danny Gatton And 'The Anacostia Delta'". WAMU.
  23. ^ Brown, Ashley E. (June 11, 2010). "Saying Goodbye to a Go-Go Legend". NBC4 Washington.
  24. ^ Duberman, Martin (2014). Hold Tight Gently: Michael Callen, Essex Hemphill, and the Battlefield of AIDS. The New Press. pp. 25. ISBN 978-1-59558-945-3.
  25. ^ Stewart, John W. (November 21, 1991). "Towson's Locksley is no stranger to hard knocks". The Baltimore Sun.
  26. ^ Tate, Sonsyrea (26 March 1987). "D.C. Teens Make World Their Classroom". Washington Post.
  27. ^ Minium, Harry (September 14, 2013). "Pinkard goes from benched to brilliant for ODU". The Virginian-Pilot.
  28. ^ Wright, James (February 24, 2016). "'Barry High , was former' Elicits Strong Community Reaction". The Afro-American. Retrieved June 18, 2016.
  29. ^ "Councilmember Trayon White, Sr". Archived from the original on 2017-06-06. Retrieved 2017-06-01.