Paul Laurence Dunbar High School was established in 1870 in Washington, DC as the nation’s first high school for African Americans. Historically, the Dunbar faculty, including luminaries like Mary Church Terrell and Dr. Carter G. Woodson, has rivaled that of prestigious colleges and universities in experience and educational background. Often parents would bring their children from all corners of the country to take advantage of the rare and hard-fought opportunities presented at Dunbar.
Originally known as Preparatory High School for Colored Youth, then later as M Street High School, Dunbar’s yearbooks span almost 150 years and include a roster of leaders in community activism, private industry, public service, science, law and medicine. Notables such as Dr. Charles Drew and Nannie Helen Burroughs built their careers and lives on the educational foundation they received here.
Today, they are still providing a world-class education to over 600 students from all quadrants of the city. They continue with respect for the accomplishments and traditions of our predecessors while incorporating new, progressive educational practices that address the needs of today’s learners.
The Dunbar curriculum is rooted in the Smaller Learning Community school model. At Dunbar, they believe young people need a comprehensive understanding of their choices in order to make good decisions about post-secondary education and careers. Therefore, they offer their students a variety of specialized academies and programs through which they can personalize their educational experience.
In the Mayor Vincent C. Gray Ninth Grade Leadership Academy, students are given the support and guidance they need to adjust to high school life and explore their interests. The accomplished Pre-Engineering program provides students with a solid foundation for careers in mathematics and science. The JROTC program, among the first of its kind, teaches students discipline, respect and self-motivation. The new Twilight Academy addresses the needs of students struggling with truancy and credit recovery challenges. The athletic department is nationally recognized and highly competitive. Dunbar athletes have earned millions of dollars in scholarships over the years and many have gone on to enjoy successful careers in professional leagues.
District of Columbia Public Schools are leading the country in the education reform movement. Dunbar is proud to be a significant focus of these changes. This spring they will break ground for a new school building designed with cutting edge “green” technology and projected to be the first of its kind in the nation. Next fall, they will be introducing additional specialized academies for students with interests in the education and media communications career fields.
Dunbar wants all of their students to become lifelong learners who take ownership of their education, their lives and their futures. They are preparing them to exceed the highest expectations in competitive post-secondary education and work environments. To meet this end, they operate in a constant cycle of new idea development, implementation and evaluation with the goal of restoring Dunbar’s legacy as one of our nation’s premiere educational institutions, where leaders are cultivated and dreams are born.