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My morning at McKinley

When counselor Ray Perez invited me to set up a Washington Post table at McKinley Technology High School's College and Career Fair, I was happy to participate, even if I was at a bit of a loss as to what to tell students about the newspaper business. It's hard to know what the industry will look like next month, let alone four or five years from now when they are college graduates.

What was most heartening about the three hours I spent last Thursday morning, sharing the school gym with Howard and Trinity universities, the U.S. Army and other potential options for McKinley grads, was how many kids told me they loved to write. There was Malika (never got her last name) who said she wanted to be a novelist and a philosopher, and who loved author Anne Lamott. Ornella Mouketou, an honor roll senior, said she was going to study journalism along with forensic psychology at the University of Michigan-Flint this fall.

Others were pursuing documentary projects under the direction of Kobi Colston, head of the school's mass media program. Juniors Lindsey Clifford and Sierra Cunningham are working on a piece "Where Did The Money Go?" It asks why DCPS can undertake ventures like the Capital Gains program -- which pays middle school kids for good grades -- but then let teachers go, as it did last October because of budget shortages.

McKinley, which lost 15 teachers and support staff, was the center of some student protests, and I was curious about how the school climate had evolved since the fall. Senior Ike Umez-Eronini, who led a student March to DCPS central offices, said things have calmed down but that resentments still simmer.

"There's an underlying mistrust," said Umez-Eronini, who is deciding between George Washington and UCLA.

Sophomore Kahn Branch said students were dealt a tough hand but were used to making the best of circumstances that were not always ideal.

"We're McKinley kids," he said.

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By Bill Turque  |  February 28, 2010; 7:50 PM ET
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Anne Lamott, not Anne Lamotte.

Posted by: gardyloo | March 1, 2010 10:43 AM | Report abuse

Is Capital Gains still in use?

Posted by: edlharris | March 1, 2010 11:18 AM | Report abuse

Kudos to you Turque! You actually sat down and talked to the children and had something positive to say about them. You were able to see the children's interests and you were able to see that our children really do have something going for them in spite of what the chancellor would have everyone believe. Thank you Bill!

Posted by: candycane1 | March 2, 2010 12:03 PM | Report abuse

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