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Our Voices Will Be Heard

On March 14th, many of our seniors addressed gun violence, honored the lives of the Parkland victims, and the lives of two Thurgood Marshall Academy students, Zaire Kelly and Paris Brown, during the National School Walkout.

Our students did not stop there. On March 22nd, our students held a very important #NeverAgain Rally with Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School to demand that their voices be heard. During this Rally, one of our seniors, Zion Kelly, asked a powerful question, “By raise of hands, if you have been affected by gun violence, please raise your hand to honor those you have lost.” Majority of those in the room raised their hand.

Our students are the voice of the community. They are our future leaders, and are the change that can happen. They will continue to voice their concerns and be heard. Our students will participate in the March For Our Lives rally. Our very own Zion Kelly will speak at the rally.


Aniyah Fields: Stephen J. Trachtenberg scholarship recipient

On March 7th, before seniors departed for a field trip, they gathered in the gym for what they thought was a regular school announcement, however, turned out to be a big surprise for one of our seniors, Aniyah Fields. GWU’s President, Dr. LeBlanc walked out, along with George the mascot, to announce that one of our very own was a recipient of their Stephen J. Trachtenberg scholarship.

Aniyah became our sixth winner to receive this scholarship to George Washington University, which covers full cost of attendance, and a stipend for her undergraduate career.

Since 1989, George Washington University opened the doors to higher education providing high school students in Washington, D.C. with full-ride scholarships through its Stephen Joel Trachtenberg Scholarship (SJT) program.

Students are nominated by their high school counselor, and then they participate in an interview process before being chosen. Recipients are selected based on academic performance, strength of curriculum, leadership qualities, recommendations, and more.

“I nominated Aniyah for the SJT scholarship because she is a bright, talented, and motivated young lady whose humility is as admirable as her work-ethic.  Her commitment to ensuring that students East of the River have access to mentorship and positive role models made her truly a compliment to the mission and purpose of the scholarship.  To me, it was a natural fit and I am glad that the scholarship committee at George Washington University agreed,” said Mr. Mitchell, Director of College and Alumni Programming.

Aniyah’s hard work and determination led her to become one of ten deserving students to receive a full-ride scholarship to George Washington University. “As a recipient of the Stephen Joel Trachtenberg scholarship I feel like a whole new world of opportunity has been made accessible to me. I am ecstatic to see what this newfound experience brings and grateful for the chance to make my dreams a reality!”


Interschool Seminar: Breaking down barriers through student led discussions

Thurgood Marshall Academy hosted the Interschool Seminar on February 21st. The event, now in its second year, brings DC public, private, and charter high school students together to voice their opinions on issues important to them. TMA students, along with students from Ballou, SEED, Georgetown Day, Sidwell Friends, Burke, and St. Johns, led discussions on current events and social issues.

The event was created by Cosby Hunt, a senior teaching and learning officer at Inspired Teaching who serves on the advisory board of Mikva Challenge. In an article on, he stated his belief “that history is relevant, meaningful, and alive in the minds and imaginations of students today.”

Ms. Lee, Social Studies Teacher, said “the event is also about having students gain a new perspective by engaging with other students they wouldn’t normally have the opportunity to talk with to. It’s a way to break down barriers around similarities and differences of their peers.”

The evening began in the school’s library, where students enjoyed pizza and learned about each other’s schools. They then moved to classrooms where students facilitated discussions on the following topics: “Aziz Ansari, Sexual Assault, and Cultural Norms”; “Black Diaspora in US”; “Sex Trafficking”; and “Scientific Racism.”

Menkhuta Whaley, a TMA senior who facilitated the Black Diaspora in US discussion, reflected on her involvement with the event. “What I liked about these discussions is that they were organized and led by students. We chose the topics and we were part of the dialogue.”

Students sign-in for the Interschool Seminar

Celebrating Our Roots 2018: A Salute to Afrofuturism

What can the future look like for African Americans? This, and other questions were explored during this year’s Celebrating Our Roots performance, which focused on Afrofuturism. Celebrating Our Roots is an annual arts, academic, and music showcase at Thurgood Mars

hall Academy, held during February to coincide with Black History Month.

At this year’s event on Saturday February 23rd guests heard from author Bill Campbell who shared his journey as a black science fiction author and explained why Afrofuturism is more important than ever. Then, guests enjoyed interactive demonstrations  that brought the genre to life – a “beauty bar in the year 3000”, with a face-painting station and featuring iconic images of fashion, hair, and makeup; a literary room, where students dressed as characters from novels  of well-known writers in the Afrofuturism genre (Octavia Butler and Nnendi Okorafor); and a social justice room, in which students shared powerful monologues from movements that gained traction on social media with memorable hashtags including #youoksis and #blackgirlmagic.

Celebrating Our Roots showcase ended with a rousing performance from students in the school’s Fashion, Dance, and Music clubs, who modeled outfits representing African gods, performed dances and sang songs from artists including Solange and Erykah Badu and Parliament.



Boeing and Sodexo Inspire Students with Professional Development Opportunities

On Friday February 23rd, a small group of TMA seniors interested in STEM and business careers joined other students from schools throughout the DMV area at Boeing’s offices in Arlington. Organized by SodexoMagic and hosted by the Boeing Black Employees Association, the event, “Charter Foundations of Success,” was an opportunity for high school students to learn professional development skills, tour Boeing’s facility, and hear from the company’s newest employees about transitioning from college to career.

During breakfast, a special guest welcomed the students with an inspirational song which set the tone of the day. Then, a panel of Boeing employees shared their experiences about applying to college, surviving on campus, choosing a career, and their first few years working for a company. During the Q&A, students asked thoughtful questions about campus life.

Following the panel discussion, students received a rare treat – they toured Boeing’s Collaboration Center, a large suite with multiple interactive digital screens. They also learned professional skills including the right handshake, how to dress for an interview, and place settings for an executive lunch. This last demonstration was timely, as students immediately enjoyed a catered lunch from celebrity Chef G Garvin, now a culinary adviser with SodexoMagic.

The day ended with a presentation on what Sodexo looks for when hiring employees, and a final panel discussion with seasoned professionals, who shared their career journey and gave advice to students on doing what they love.

Dayell Preston, TMA senior, enjoyed the visit. He plans to attend college and study aeronautical engineering. “It was inspiring to see so many black professionals in one space.”

Comic Book Day at TMA

Today’s release of the Black Panther movie was a perfect backdrop to TMA’s Comic Book Day. Ms. Barker, the school’s librarian, said, “I wanted to create an event that focused on some of our more reluctant readers, to get them interested in reading. I also wanted a space for students who love to “geek out” and share their love of comics in a judgement-free zone.”

Last school year, Ms. Barker reached out to the local store of Third Eye Comics, the largest comic book store in the U.S. and they agreed to partner on an event at the school. This is the second year of Comic Book Day, and teachers from TMA’s English Department suggested students who would benefit from the event.

Held in the school library, students received free comics and enjoyed pizza, while engaging in conversations with each other as well as with Third Eye staff member Rachel Tilley. They were animated as they discussed topics ranging from why Black Panther is so popular, to which comic book character is the most powerful superhero.

“I’m glad that we were able to excite the students who have said that they don’t like reading,” Barker said. Hopefully seeing examples of a different writing style, with graphics and images of heroes, will spark their curiosity.”

TMA students learn about advocating first hand

Last week, five Thurgood Marshall Academy students engaged in presentations ranging from Women’s Rights to Voting Rights when they attended the Washington D.C. Youth Civil Rights Summit.

This three day summit was created by the American Civil Liberties Union Club at the School Without Walls Senior High School. Students learned about advocating for their rights from ACLU lawyers and keynote speakers. According to 11th grade TMA student, Destiny Young, “It was an amazing opportunity working in groups, meeting new people, and learning about our rights.”

This summit has inspired TMA students to think about possibly starting their own club focused on Civil Rights. Their participation in the Civil Rights Summit aligns with our efforts to encourage our students to be advocates for themselves and for their community.

Letter to TMA Families re: Paris Brown

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January 11, 2018

Dear Families of Thurgood Marshall Academy,

This morning we were informed that one of our students, Paris Brown, died tragically last night. Paris joined our school community this year as an 11th grade student and will be truly missed. Paris was a shining star who loved music and spoken word poetry. He touched many people’s lives in his brief time at Thurgood Marshall Academy and we are saddened to lose another Warrior to gun violence.

Counselors are onsite for any student who may need or want assistance during this time of grief, and we will continue to offer support throughout the coming days and weeks. We are in contact with the family and will share additional details regarding funeral services when they are available.

If you need assistance outside of school hours, please reach out to the Department of Behavioral Health hotline at 1(888)7WE-HELP or 1-888-793-4357.

We are deeply saddened by the loss to our school community, and we extend our deepest sympathies to Paris’ family and friends.

rich pohlman signature



Richard Pohlman

Spirit Week and Homecoming Recap

This week was full of activities for TMA students, faculty and staff, as we celebrated Spirit Week and Homecoming to show unity and our Warrior pride.

From Pajama Day to Black Out Day, students, faculty and staff had the opportunity to showcase their creative, fun and athletic sides.

Staff get into the Spirit on Pajama Day

Students dressed in 70s fashion












Every year during Spirit Week we host a Faculty vs. Students Basketball game. Wednesday featured the annual basketball game, with faculty continuing their winning streak for a third. This year faculty defeated students 26 to 14.

Students wore their class colors and cheered on their classmates during a pep rally on Thursday, as each grade competed in basketball, tug of war, and other games.

Following our pep rally, our Spirit Week ended with our Homecoming Basketball game against Dunbar High School, and the Homecoming Dance.

TMA students apply for college early: High SAT Scores and College Application Boot Camp

More students are applying to colleges earlier in their senior year – even before the end of their first semester. This trend is known nationwide as “Early Action”, and November 1st is the Early Action deadline for many colleges and universities. We are proud that our Class of 2018 have been actively preparing for this moment, with 60% of our seniors submitting early action applications.

One of the most important factors in college admissions is a high SAT score. TMA invested in additional resources to offer SAT prep classes to seniors. As a result, 97% of our students scored above an 800, and 50% of students earned a “super score” above 1000.

“It’s important for our students to score as high as possible and apply, as early as possible, to remain competitive,” said Mr. Mitchell, Director of College and Alumni Programming. “The earlier our students apply for college, the more time they have to focus on earning scholarships.”

In addition to SAT courses, seniors prepared for Early Action by attending a college application “boot camp” in the school’s library, working until 6pm on their applications with help from faculty, staff and volunteers.

They also had several opportunities during the school day to write their personal statement, a compelling reason why they should be admitted into the college of their choice. College essays were the focus during Senior Seminar, and volunteers from TMA’s staff and the local legal community helped with final edits.

Our students are on their way to being admitted into the colleges of their choice, giving them enough time to focus on the next critical piece: paying for college.