'No-Nonsense' School Teams with NIH
By Gerri Adams-Simmons
Photos by Bill Branson
On the Front Page...
NIH's Office of the Director has adopted Alice Deal Junior High School in northwest Washington as part of the agency's commitment to introduce students to biomedical research science at an early age. In partnership with the school, NIH will provide enriching experiences that expose students to a variety of health-related science projects and careers that support such science.
On June 9, Dr. Yvonne Maddox, NIH acting deputy director, toured Deal with Assistant Principal Manuel Dacoba, who offered a glimpse of life at Deal throughout three floors of teachers, students, exhibits, displays and the memorable changing of the classes. Later, Maddox met with Principal Reginald Moss.
"Deal has enjoyed a very unique atmosphere, which we feel is conducive to every student obtaining maximum growth educationally, socially and physically," he said. "Such an atmosphere has been accomplished with a dedicated staff and, foremost, a student body that accepts responsibility." Moss has been the principal at Deal since March 1978.
Maddox observed that "the school has continued its tradition of providing creative and interesting courses while maintaining a progressive structured atmosphere." The school maintains a "Wall of Fame" of students who have excelled in academics and sports, both while attending Deal and after leaving.
Katie Compton, student council president and member of the National Junior Honor Society, who has been selected for a summer job at NIH, was also on hand for the tour.
"Though I know that everyone says that Deal is a no-nonsense school," she said, "I really appreciate the fact that the teachers and principal are very supportive of your interests and in helping you find out what you want to do in life."
Deal is unique among junior high schools in Washington, D.C., with a diverse student population: 46 percent black, 31 percent white, 17 percent Hispanic, and 5 percent Asian/Pacific Islander. Students represent all economic levels. The school is located near Tenley Circle, off Wisconsin Avenue.
Deal opened its doors in 1931 and was named for the principal of the first junior high school in D.C. Before World War II broke out in Europe, the west wing was added. The war changed many things at Deal. Pupils assisted in wartime activities by helping teachers with food- and gas-rationing duties. In addition, the region's tower was often manned at night by Deal teachers working as airplane spotters, since nearby Fort Reno is one of the highest spots in Washington. There were frequent air raid drills and emergency supplies were stored in the tunnel beneath the school.
From the beginning, Deal was a school with an international flavor, because many diplomats sent their children there. It was among the first to provide social instruction for youngsters who knew little English. It earned recognition from the United Nations more than 20 years ago for a pageant created by students who were natives of nearly every nation then in the United Nations.
As Maddox toured the school and spent time with teachers, she was regaled with stories and samples of the wide range of courses offered at Deal: John Spearmon, a general science teacher, spoke at length about one project in particular that related to the human genome; Ana Vasquez, humanities and Spanish I instructor, explained the meaning embedded in a Hispanic-themed stained glass display created by students; Dr. Donna Mason, computer lab teacher, presented documents students created using PowerPoint and other desktop publishing software; and Home Economics Teacher Ruth Wallace recounted that she and her students recently made a television appearance, where they were noted for their outstanding quilt exhibition.
Maddox, who was invited to attend the school's annual Thanksgiving Day Luncheon prepared by the students, concluded: "I know that NIH will contribute all its expertise and resources to ensure that this partnership is a long-term success."
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