Inner City Student Gets Accepted To Five Ivy League Schools - Los Angeles News | FOX 11 LA KTTV

From Anchor Tony McEwing

Inner City Student Gets Accepted To Five Ivy League Schools

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What if I told you there is a high school located in the middle of Washington, D.C. that has had a 100-percent college acceptance rate with its seniors for the last three decades? And what if I told you this isn't one of those high-end, hoity-toity private schools where ambassadors and influential politicians send their kids? That it's a public school that serves an overwhelmingly minority population. And that one of its graduating seniors, 17-year old Avery Coffey, has been accepted at all five of the Ivy League universities to which he applied: Harvard, Yale, Princeton, the University of Pennsylvania and Brown.

Avery has maintained a 4.3 grade point average at the school. In addition to taking numerous college prep classes, he also plays baseball, basketball, tennis and soccer. Certainly, Avery is a standout student but he's not that much of an anomaly at a school that stresses academic excellence and refuses to accept substandard work or behavior.

Avery attends Benjamin Banneker Academic High School along with 438 other students, all of whom are college bound and, if the last 30 years are any indication, every one of whom will end up being accepted by an institution of higher learning. For those who might not know, the school is named after a brilliant African American scientist and surveyor born in 1731 who is largely credited with designing Washington, D.C.

So what gives? Why is Banneker able to do what so many other high schools serving mostly minority students across the country can't do? Well, there are plenty of reasons. First of all, Banneker's students come from all over the District and have to score well on rigorous tests to gain admission. It's always nice when a school can choose who walks through its doors by selecting the cream of the scholastic crop. That's an incredible advantage to ensuring that every student will succeed.

But it's not just that. Banneker fosters a very serious academic environment by enforcing extremely strict rules. For instance, students are under no circumstances allowed to bring cell phones to school. In fact, they're not even allowed to go to their lockers during the school day--a prohibition that has spawned the peculiar tradition of piling up textbooks at the base of lockers so kids can switch books between classes without violating the rule.

At Banneker, it's all about learning. Period. Sure the kids can have fun. But fun is not had at the expense of learning. And the administration goes out of its way to encourage teachers to make learning fun as well.

If you think the point of this blog is to raise the question I asked earlier about why this school is able to do what so many other schools can't? It isn't. There are plenty of reasons why Banneker has a 100-percent success rate. To begin with, most public schools simply cannot pick and choose which students they will accept or handpick the entire faculty. This blog is not intended as an indictment of schools with dismal statistics. However, there are things that Banneker has implemented that could probably have a positive impact on any school, no matter where it's located or the composition of the student body. There's certainly nothing wrong with other schools taking a close look at Banneker to see what strategies are employed there that might help boost the academic success of their own students. As far as I'm concerned, anything, within reason, is worth trying, if the goal is to motivate our kids to do better.

Tony McEwing co-anchors FOX 11 Morning News at 4:30 am and provides news updates for the Emmy award winning Good Day LA, broadcast weekdays from 7:00 - 10:00 am. He also co-anchors the FOX 11 10 am News and the FOX 11 News at Noon.
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