New Dunbar High School Campus Ready for Classes

A spirited beginning Monday for an old school’s new digs.

Dunbar High School, one of the District's most historic schools, has a new, $125 million campus waiting for students when they return to class next week.

Erslyn Foster and Jeanne Sinkford, graduates with the class of 1949 who remain friends and neighbors today, are excited along with the rest of the Dunbar community. It has a building again worthy of its name now that the hideous, prisonlike 1970s version next door is being torn down.

“It was like a cell,” Sinkford said. “I mean, it had no windows and it didn’t stimulate learning,” Sinkford said.

“You couldn't learn in that building,” said Principal Stephen Jackson, whose 97-year-old great aunt Julia Brooks graduated in 1934. “It was difficult to learn in that building."

The new gym is worthy of its champion teams, and the modern, Internet-friendly spaces should help inspire academics. Dunbar was once known for its academics until recent decades.

“I think the students will feel a sense of ownership here,” Sinkford said.

“Whether they are faculty or student or member of the community, parents, they will always be able to find a place for themselves,” said Mayor Vincent Gray, class of 1959.

Washington Post columnist Colby King, class of 1957, said the new school offers historic meaning.

“They'll be able to see in this building what they didn't see in the other building, which is the history, people who helped make Dunbar what it was, and it will be an inspiration … because they have a wall here with names up there but there are spaces for them.”

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