Back to School in Georgetown

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On O Street in Georgetown, Hyde-Addison parents wave goodbye to their children on the morning of the first day of school. Georgetowner photo.

Summer is over for many Georgetowners starting the week of Aug. 20. Why is that? Because Monday, Aug. 20, is the first day of school for D.C. public schools. The first day of pre-K is Thursday, Aug. 23, and the first “Back to School” night for parents is the following Wednesday, Aug. 29.

That includes all students and parents at Georgetown’s public schools: Hyde-Addison Elementary School, Hardy Middle School and Duke Ellington School of the Arts high school, as well as at most of the private schools in the area. School hours are 8:40 a.m. to 3:15 p.m., with before- and after-care hours available at the elementary schools from 7 to 8:45 a.m. and from 3:15 to 6 p.m.

Kids and parents are generally excited. According to a gaggle of parents in Rose Park — whose 4-to-8-year-olds, many of them barefoot, darted around them — the kids mainly are eager to see their friends and have recess together.

“I’m excited to be able to get back to a regular schedule again,” one mom said.

No one was excited about getting new school clothes, a tradition that now seems to have been completely replaced by having to acquire a long list of school supplies. The bags full of supplies — dry erasers, notebooks, paper, books, pencils, colored-pencil kits and earphones — are so heavy that some schools allowed parents to bring them to the classrooms on Friday, Aug. 17, and Saturday, Aug. 18.

This year, there does not seem to be any of the trepidation felt last year when the parents of some 300 students at Hyde-Addison, Georgetown’s only public elementary school, were informed by Deputy Mayor for Education Jennifer Niles that their children — some as young as 4 years old — would be bused to a swing school across town during Hyde-Addison’s multi-year reconstruction. Parents had expected the students to be accommodated at Hardy Middle School up the street.

But Niles is gone now, dismissed as part of the scandal that also saw new Chancellor Antwan Wilson abruptly leave. And the controversial school busing plan for the Hyde-Addison children — a fairly unusual sight in the District, which is committed to neighborhood schools — seems to have gone smoothly during the past school year.

“I was very concerned about my 4-year-old taking the bus, but he loves it,” admitted Jesse Homa at a Friends of Volta Park event in June. “He says he feels like a big boy now.”

The private schools are expanding as well. The Mysa school — for grades K through five — started last year in one room of the old Fillmore School building on 35th Street, now owned by Halcyon, as an alternative for parents who didn’t want their children bused. This year, it has expanded to a whole floor, according to Siri Fiske, the school’s founder and head. Fiske looks forward to an eventual Mysa Middle School.

Student numbers are up in Georgetown, with neighborhood homes increasingly being bought and remodeled by urban-oriented millennial families with school-age children, according to local architects. As their costs for housing increase, these families turn to local schools to educate their kids. The number of schools to choose from in Georgetown is expected to increase.

“My son will return to his pre-K school this year and this fall we will begin the process of figuring out where he’ll attend kindergarten,” wrote Georgetowner education columnist Chloe Kaplan Kwakkenbos, who runs an enrichment program, Amore Learning. “It’s a topic I get a lot of questions about — public school versus private school, which school is the right fit, how early should one start the process, etc. I’ll touch on many of these in one of my upcoming columns.”

 

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