Councilmember Allen, Mayor Bowser Attend Watkins Elementary Ribbon-Cutting Ceremony

Cutting Celebrates Completion of the $44 Million Modernization Project

"This beautiful new building has been a long time coming," Councilmember Charles Allen (Ward 6-D) speaks at the ribbon cutting for the modernization of Watkins Elementary Thursday August 17. Photo Courtesy: Office of Councilmember Allen

Councilmember Charles Allen (Wad 6-D) and Mayor Muriel Bowser were on hand at 11 a.m. Thursday, August 17 for the ribbon-cutting ceremony at Watkins Elementary School (420 12 Street SE). The ceremony celebrated the completion of the $44 million modernization of the school, which was built in 1962. The modernization includes a 26,338 square foot addition that consists of new administrative spaces, an outdoor classroom, state-of-the-art media center, and a new cafeteria and gym. The school shares a site with the Watkins Recreation Center, which is the site of a youth-sized pool among other amenities.

Watkins Elementary is part of the Capitol Hill Cluster Schools, a unique Pre-K to grade 8 school located throughout three buildings in the Capitol Hill Neighborhood. Watkins Elementary houses grades 1-5. The other schools are Peabody Elementary, which houses early childhood education, and Stuart Hobson Middle School, which hosts grades 6 through 8.

Councilmember Allen has been a long-time advocate of school modernization. Working together with other councilmembers, Allen managed to get funding for the 77-year-old Jefferson Middle School Academy accelerated to Fiscal Year 2018, with construction to begin as soon as possible, and funding for Capitol Hill Montessori at Logan modernization planning in Fiscal Year 2018.

Allen said, "This beautiful new building has been a long time coming [for Watkins Elementary School and the Capitol Hill Cluster School community], but the hard work of so many parents and community leaders helped make this day possible. For many years, Watkins has been a great school in a not so great building. Now we have a fantastic facility to match Principal Bell’s fantastic staff and more than 400 excited students and their families ready to start this new chapter at Watkins. This is a beautiful new school worthy of the goals and hopes of the community it will serve.”

At the ribbon-cutting, Mayor Bowser also launched the Every Day Counts! Tour, a campaign to raise awareness about the importance of attendance and student achievement. Approximately one out of every four students in DC is chronically absent (missing 10 percent or more of the school year). In a statement, Bowser said that Every Day Counts! is a citywide effort to ensure every student attends school every day through a public awareness campaign; increased coordination across public agencies and stakeholders; and investments in data-driven strategies to increase attendance. The Every Day Counts! Task Force will be rewarding students and schools that improve attendance this year. 

Making the Cut. Mayor Muriel Bowser cuts the ribbon, marking the completion of the $44 million modernization project at Watkins Elementary. Photo: Courtesy Office of Councilmember Allen