First Month Down – We’re Just Getting Started!


This message was shared with DCPS families and staff on September 28, 2023.

Dear DC Public Schools (DCPS) Community,

As we wrap up the first month of School Year 2023-2024, I want to thank our staff, families, and community partners forall your support ensuring our students started the year #DCPSStrong.

September marks Attendance Awareness Month, and DCPS prioritizes the importance of showing up every day. This commitment maximizes positive outcomes for our students:

  • Reading Proficiency for Early Learners: Students who are chronically absent in kindergarten and 1st grade are significantly less likely to read at grade level by the end of 3rd grade.
  • Overall Academic Growth and Well-Being: Students who regularly attend school are more likely to succeed academically and have better physical and emotional health.
  • Post-Graduation Success and Opportunities: Consistent attendance increases a student’s chances of graduating high school on time and accessing valuable post-secondary opportunities.

Mayor Bowser emphasizes, “Strong attendance is key to a strong school year. When young people are in school, they not only do better academically, they also have access to a range of supports to keep them happy and healthy.” Thank you for partnering with us to empower students to show up and be the best they can be!

As we keep this new school year energy going, I want to take a moment to share with you a few highlights and areas of work that are critical to our shared success. Continue reading to learn how we are achieving excellence and joy at DCPS. And we’re just getting started!

Today’s word count – 1,227 words, a 9-minute read.

In partnership,      
Lewis D. Ferebee, Ed.D.      

Every Day Counts: Attendance Tips ✅

Powerful learning happens every day, but students must be in class to maximize their growth. DCPS is committed to promoting a culture of strong attendance, and you can help! Visit for more ways to show up together so every student can thrive. The following attendance tips can help:

  • Set a regular bedtime and morning routine;
  • Lay out clothes and backpacks the night before;
  • Create a back-up plan for commuting to school in the morning;
  • Avoid scheduling appointments and trips during school hours;
  • Reach out to your school for support with overcoming attendance barriers.

The Back-to-School Block Party Goes On—Rain or Shine! 🎉

Hundreds of students and their families braved the rain to join us at McKinley Tech High School to celebrate the start of School Year 2023-2024 at our annual block party. Attendees connected with more than 35 District government and community partners for resources and guidance to make this school year the best yet. Shout out to our talented student performers from across DCPS:

  • Columbia Heights Education Campus Band;
  • C.W. Harris Elementary School ViQueens Dance Team;
  • Sousa Middle School Dance Team;
  • Patterson Elementary School Chorus;
  • Stuart-Hobson Middle School Panther Funk Jazz Ensemble.

DCPS CTE Is Preparing Today’s Students for the Jobs of Tomorrow 💼

DCPS’ Career and Technical Education (CTE) Programs continue to expand, with eight new offerings across six schools including horticulture at Ron Brown College Preparatory High School and computer maintenance at MacArthur High School. Through CTE, our students are developing a deeper connection to coursework while building technical skills in high-demand career fields.

“So many of the solutions to our nation’s challenges, and solutions for our future challenges, are right here in this room.”

—Mayor Bowser at the 2023 U.S. Department of Commerce Annual Youth Summit

You’re Invited: Master Facilities Plan Town Halls ✋

Join the Office of the Deputy Mayor for Education (DME) for an upcoming virtual town hall to learn more about the Master Facilities Plan. This citywide planning process helps ensure school facilities across DCPS are efficiently serving the needs of our students, neighborhoods, and communities. Learn more and register to attend at

New Resource: 💭

With a goal of decreasing barriers to school success by providing students, school staff, and families with tools that promote academic and psychosocial growth and progress, DCPS has launched a new website dedicated to student mental health. For mental health resources including a provider directory, events calendar, and articles on mental health, special education, and parenting strategies, visit

Stay Connected: Internet Access 🌐

Looking for ways to pay for home internet? Families may be eligible to receive discounted, high-speed internet through the United States Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Affordable Connectivity Program. Eligibility is based on household income or participation in government assistance programs like SNAP or WIC. Apply at

DCPS Forever Spotlights 💙

DCPS’ School Year 2023-2024 calendar is hot off the press! Families can pick up a copy from their school this week. Within the calendar, you will find stories from students, staff, parents, families, and alumni – all of whom embody this year’s theme: DCPS Forever.

Mr. Walcott joins his daughter on her school playground.

Mr. Walcott joins his daughter on her school playground.

August featured Mr. Walcott, a DCPS parent, alumnus of Coolidge High School, and staff member at Brookland Middle School. “At DCPS, our kids don’t have to wait until college to make a choice. They have the opportunity now to choose what they want to explore and study.”

Principal Lundgren walks her children to school.

This month, we feature Principal Lundgren, a DCPS parent and the school leader at Marie Reed Elementary School. “I love the kids. It’s really rewarding to see them grow and change over the years and become their own people by the time they finish 5th grade.”

DCPS Happenings 📰

  • Blue Ribbon School Honor 🏅: Chancellor Ferebee joins FOX5 to congratulate Principal Berger and Benjamin Banneker Academic High School on their fourth National Blue Ribbon School designation. Watch on FOX5
  • Redesign Through Community Roots 🌳: H.D. Woodson High School reflects on its community-based redesign process as part of the DC+XQ Year 2 cohort. Read more at The 74.
  • Charles Sumner School Celebrates 150 Years 🏫: Explore the hallways and history of the official D.C. Public Schools museum and archives. Watch on News4.
  • Show Your Spirit 📣: Principal Bright and the Coolidge High School cheerleaders build hype for a Friday night football game! Watch on Fox5.
  • Classroom Gets Surprise Makeover 🎨: Whittier Elementary School 3rd grade teacher Ms. Duncan gets a new, colorful classroom. Watch on NBC4.

Top Social Posts ❤️

More highlights from across the district to come!

Chancellor Ferebee joins students, staff, families, and city leaders to debut new state-of-the-art playgrounds at Barnard Elementary School.

MacFarland Middle School poetess Kayla performs as DC Scores student-athletes take the field for poetry and penalty kicks during a Washington Spirit soccer game.

Ballou High School students discuss mindfulness with Chancellor Ferebee and humanitarian leader Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar.

Important Upcoming Dates 📆

  • September 29: Sukkot (Begins at sunset; ends at sunset on Friday, October 6)
  • September 30: SY22-23 Kids Ride Free SmarTrip Cards Expire
  • October 4: DME Master Facilities Plan Session 1, 12 – 1:30 p.m. (register here)
  • October 5: DME Master Facilities Plan Session 2, 6 – 7:30 p.m. (register here)
  • October 9: Indigenous Peoples’ Day (DCPS closed)
  • October 19: Parent Teacher Conference Day (No school for students)
  • October 20: Professional Development Day (No school for students)

View the full DCPS School Year 2023-2024 Digital Calendar (printed calendars will be available for all DCPS families this month).