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Reformation is within us all and Ballou High School 2017 Seniors have proven that gentrification is not the only thing that can turn around a community. Tuesday, June 13, 2017, the Southeast DC high school stomped a stigma, tore down a barrier, and raised the bar as each of its 170 seniors crossed the stage, not only with a diploma, with a college acceptance letter. While the news may be expected in many suburban areas, this accomplishment is a milestone for the southeast public school system.

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Last year was tough for Frank W. Ballou Senior High School. Nearly 200 teachers quit since August and they had the second lowest public high school graduation rate according to The Washington Post. Ballou lost a quarter of its staff. With only 3% of students meeting city-wide testing reading standards in the previous year, the odds were against the class of 2017.

“It set us back, learning-wise. Grades couldn’t get put it. It was difficult,” said Hamilton. She said the difference was this year, the students came together to work with the staff.”

However, instead of succumbing to the ever-present violence and poverty surrounding DC’s southeast regions, Ballou’s senior class, with the aid of their assistant principal, decided last spring they were all going to apply to college.

Among the acceptance letters are prestigious schools such as Penn State, Virginia State, Howard University, and Bethune Cookman University.

Ballou’s Class of 2017 sent a message to all of those “haters” out there.

“They said I wouldn’t be nothing. Now they always say congratulations!” a chorus of graduates sang on the school’s football field as excitement beamed from their faces.”

“Everybody just, they was betting on us failing, and we all came together and we graduated,” said Me’Ashja Hamilton.”

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