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Gray Announces Support for Federal Winning the Future-Educate to Innovate Initiatives and Showcases Progress of STEM High School


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(Washington,DC)–Mayor Vincent C. Gray today showcased the ongoing construction of H.D. Woodson, a new $100 million science, technology, engineering and math (S.T.E.M.) focused high school that serves as a national example of President Barack Obama’s Educate to Innovate initiative announced during his recent State of the Union address.

“School reform in the District is moving full speed ahead and H.D. Woodson High School represents all components of the President’s education agenda. Woodson is among just a handful of schools in the nation built specifically for STEM education,” said Mayor Gray. “The residents of the District are thankful for the President’s leadership and vision on education and for protecting our budget for 2012.”

The school is specifically designed to support a progressive academic curriculum. The two upper floors of the building feature four distinct learning communities, each configured for integrated learning. Each classroom can operate as a collaborative workspace or can be sub-divided into traditionally sized learning units. Supported by an advanced technology infrastructure, each learning community includes an integrated learning suite with laboratories and break-out areas surrounding a forum/gathering space.

“Math is one of the building blocks of education, and science strengthens the critical thinking skills that our students need to compete with their peers domestically and abroad. Our STEM-focused schools drive science, technology, engineering and math so that students will have the skills that will be demanded of them in an increasingly competitive global climate,” said Kaya Henderson, Chancellor of DC Public Schools (DCPS). “Since STEM schools are neighborhood schools open to all students, we greatly increase students’ access to technology in the classroom. Our goal is to ensure that every student in DC public schools receives a world-class education from a world-class educator, and our STEM program is one way that we’re working towards that goal.”

Woodson has been designed to achieve LEED Gold certification in accordance with the US Green Building Council’s LEED for Schools rating system criteria. Sustainable and high performance features integrated into the building include over 75 percent of the roof area containing vegetative plantings. The $1.2 million cost of the “green roof” is being funded in partnership with the District Department of Environment through the Obama Administration’s American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 grant program.

“Woodson was the first totally new building undertaken by OPEFM since its inception in 2007,” said DC City Administrator Allen Y. Lew. Lew previously served as OPEFM’s Executive Director. “The District has completed what we think are now some of the finest academic facilities in the region including the School Without Walls and the recently reopened Eastern high schools,” said Lew. “But we have taken our time to make sure we got Woodson right. It was not easy. We had to go back to the drawing board to make sure that we developed a building that fit the needs and expectations not only of DCPS but of the students and this community. When Woodson opens next fall it will be among the very best high schools in America.”

The new building is a three-story structure with a strong central entrance flanked by lower side wings housing major assembly spaces. A sky-lit atrium with dramatic open stairs will flood the building’s core with natural light, links each floor level and serves as the primary student access to educational spaces. Projecting glass bays and a soaring roof overhang form the backdrop for an exterior pedestrian plaza and student gathering space. Extensive new site development includes a football stadium with bleachers, locker rooms, ticketing and concessions buildings as well as tennis courts, a softball field, practice fields and connections to the newly opened Marvin Gaye Park.

Sustainable design features include a special rainwater harvesting system that stores runoff in cisterns and provides re-cycled gray water to supplement interior plumbing. In addition, the building incorporates high performance glazing and a super-insulated perimeter envelope, daylight harvesting, automated lighting controls, water conserving plumbing fixtures and use of salvaged building materials.
Woodson first opened its doors in the fall of 1972 occupying an eight-story concrete tower built upon a raised outdoor plaza. Hailed as the “Tower of Power,” the building served as an academic center and source of community pride for over thirty years. Through the collective efforts of the school community, DCPS and OPEFM, a new HD Woodson High School is rising on the site of the former building to serve the needs of Ward 7 students and the surrounding community as they move forward into the 21st century.

“H.D. Woodson is symbolic of how this Mayor and the Council have leveraged local and federal dollars to move our city forward,” said Mayor Gray. “We have created jobs with our school modernization program, the District is preparing its students for college and jobs in the new economy. In addition, the new Woodson will bring technological innovation to the community in exciting new ways.”