Thursday, April 29, 2010

Maryland Day wows the Mentor Program

This past Saturday the Mentor Program participated in our annual college trip by attending Maryland Day.  The event drew over 50,000 people, and we were thrilled to be among the crowd.  The entire campus was engaged in introducing the University of Maryland experience to the general public.

Students watched a rugby match, attended a seminar on getting ready for college, and even did some rock climbing.  Apparently Marquis Williams is part spider, as he climbed the wall in under 5 seconds (unofficial time).  TMA students also had a chance to hang out in the student center, grab a bite to eat, and look over class offerings for various majors.

Our students are going to college.  This trip was a nice reminder that all of the hard work it will take to get there will be worth it.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Heading Home

This past Wednesday I woke for school and proceeded with my regular morning routines. My alarm clock rang, I rose and my day began. I stayed on schedule but I had a little extra incentive because I knew that day Thurgood Marshall's "incredible junior class" had a college trip scheduled. But not to just any college trip; the colleges were found in my home state of Delaware! Of the two colleges we would visit, I was more than familiar with one, Delaware State University and less familiar with another, University of Delaware.

The first stop on our college tour was Delaware State University. I am very acquainted with this college and campus because it is where my mother graduated with a bachelors degree in business administration. On top of that I have been to numerous activities and events there myself from a pre-k program to sports camps and from academic enrichment programs to homecomings. Yet, as we entered the campus, I myself saw things that were new to me. In the past couple years Delaware State has been actively taking steps to improve their school's view and student life with upgrades such as the addition of a state-of-the-art student center, fully equipped with two full basketball courts, an overflow work out area, a full length track that surrounds the top floor and a Olympic-style aquatic center. The campus has improved in numerous areas and those improvement showed. At tour's end, many TMA students expressed their new found interest in learning more about or possibly attending Delaware State; citing the calm and cool campus life and intimate class and population size as major reasons.

The second tour took place on the grounds of the University of Delaware, where the feel was a little different but still was positive. UD is home to a considerably larger population of students than Del State, almost seventeen thousand more, but the opportunity pulled many students in. The Blue Hens also have an amazing student center where we, the "prospects" could see where and how students spend their down time or choose to study. The campus style at UD is different from DSU's as well. The University of Delaware gave a relaxed rural feel to everyone that entered the area.

By way of areas on campus like "the green", an area were many students met and conversed or did work. But what stood out most was the talk of the educational opportunities that varied from those at Del State. UD offers many diverse majors, that definitely provied something for everyone. For example the authentic business center caught the attention of many students from Thurgood, saying that they would love to work in such a realistic center in preparation for their actual jobs. I myself was even interested in what the school had to offer, being that my group's tour guide majored in the exact subjects that I plan to, assuring me that the programs were very exciting and hands on.

Overall I think each experience was eye opening , allowing many to get an idea of what type of college lifestyle and atmosphere they really wanted. The difference between the two colleges also gave a prime example of just how diverse each college really is from each other. As I made my "bittersweet" departure from my beloved state, I couldn't help but be proud of the impression that my hometown colleges made on others. The pride and joy of a state nicknamed "the Little Wonder" still lives in the colleges.

Make Haste Not Waste

Last Sunday, a group of 12 students joined Ms. Gall and Mr. Kaplan at the Kenilworth Aquatic Garden for a day service. Braving the damp weather and early morning wake up call, the group traveled together over to the park to join in o the JCC's Spring Into Action Day of Service. Students spent the morning cleaning up garbage along the Anacostia River Bank. A few students even jumped into kayaks and canoes so that they could grab the harder-to-reach waste. One student summed up her experience quite eloquently: "I was disgusted at the amount of garbage but feel inspired to try to change it." Stay tuned for upcoming service trips and future opportunities to create change.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Atten Hut!

This past Friday, half of the 9th grade class spent its Law Day at the Navy Yard. They watched a mock trial of a military appeal case and toured an decommissioned combat ship. More information on the trip, as well as the excited reflections from military personnel can be found here.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Who's good? Thurgood coaches!

Last week, TMA hosted our annual athletic awards banquet. It was a great opportunity to celebrate all of our student-athletes. Our students are a remarkable group - dedicated, passionate, and fair. They deserve all of the accolades bestowed upon them.

But this brief post is about their coaches. During the banquet, one player on each team took a minute to say "thanks" to their coaches (see picture above) and this is just an attempt to publish the sentiment.

While students work to develop character, the coaches are there to guide them. They conduct 7:00 AM practices. They are with our students in study halls and on the bus after late-night games. They are there on weekends and in the middle of the school day. It is hard to imagine a more demanding job than that of a high school teacher and coach, and yet each of these folks engage in the task with a full heart and a warm smile.

Many thanks to the following coaches for making sure that our school develops more complete young people.
  • Athletic Director - Michelle Thompson
  • Football- Randy Preston and Stephen Edge
  • Cheerleading- Zabrina Ames, Renee Short and Zach Singletary
  • Volleyball- Marielys Garcia and Tara Allen
  • Girls Basketball- Mel Alston and Mike Somerville
  • Boys Basketball- Mike Hendricks and George McCullough

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Ten Question, Two Minutes. Community Service Edition

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Address to the Senior Class

Back in August of 2009, the seniors at Thurgood Marshall were gearing up for an exciting door to their life. This door both closes their time as High School students, as well as opens the door to a bright future filled with college success stories.

Although the future looks bright, the road along the way has been a bit bumpy. Many students have stressed over which schools to apply to, who got accepted where, scholarships, FAFSA, family, friends, and on top of all of that, MORE SCHOOL WORK. Teachers at Thurgood Marshall continue to remind Seniors to not catch any cases of "Senioritis," and for many, this has been hard. But I am proud to say that we as a class have progressed forward, creating memories along the way, to a time close to what some view as the end. But as we approach prom, graduation, and college life, we must remember that this is the beginning to more memories, more success stories, and more opportunities to enrich the lives of one another in our Warrior Family.

I encourage you all in the senior class, and even those who will soon rise to the position of senior, to continue to work hard and to finish strong. The stress that we are experiencing now is only the weight we need to pump up our intellectual muscles so that we can go into college and adulthood swinging.

This is OUR last year, last semester, and last quarter as seniors, but is certainly not the end to a pride that we have developed - TMA Warriors.

Friday, April 16, 2010

TMA College Fair - Open to ALL high school students! May 6, 2010

How did TMA alumni RaShawn Grant and Dominique Griffin end up as freshman in a University of Vermont dorm? They spent four years working hard, they examined their college choices, and they connected with organizations that are designed to support their journeys. While it's on the students to do the hard work, we'd like to announce an opportunity for students to examine their choices and connect to college-support organizations.

On Thursday, May 6th, TMA will open its gym to host our first annual College Fair. The fair will be held from 5:30-8 PM and will feature representatives from over 20 colleges across the country. Additionally, representatives from College Success Foundation, OSSE, FAFSA, POSSE Scholarship Foundation, Gates Millenium Scholarship and the United Negro College Fund will be in attendance.

The focus of the fair will be on financing your college education, as well as finding great college choices for those all over the GPA spectrum. The fair is open to any and all. Should you have any questions prior to the 6th, please feel free to email

We look forward to seeing you in a few weeks!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Ten Question, Two Minutes. Mock Trial Edition

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Thurgood Marshall argued 19 cases before the Supreme Court

And he won 14 of them.

So, when Thurgood Marshall Academy fields a mock trial team, there are considerable shoes to fill. On Monday night, at the opening round of the annual Street Law Mock Trial Tournament, sixteen TMA students did their part to uphold his legacy.

The Street Law program at Georgetown University has been a TMA partner since our inception. Each year, a law student works with a group of seniors in a traditional classroom setting, both to teach the complexities of the law and to prepare students for the year-end tournament. During each round of the tournament, schools serve as both the prosecution and as the defense in multiple hearings of the same case. And after one round, the 2010 TMA mock trial team is undefeated, having won both as the prosecution and as the defense in a case about domestic violence.

Four students were recognized for outstanding performance: Melvin Atcherson and Mache Chase (for their work as attorneys) and Tashayla Savage and Tevin Brown (for their efforts as witnesses). Please come out to support the entire group this Thursday night at 6:00PM at the DC Superior Court House (500 Indiana Ave, NW) for round two.

The 2010 TMA mock trial team consists of:

Melvin Atcherson
Tevin Brown
Christine Cauley
Mache Chase
Rashada Coton
Shavari Cox
Andrea Daniels
Tiesha Dowing
Quentonio Hickman
Cin’Cerae LeaBough
Brittany McGhee
Franki Miller
Parris Roberston
Tashayla Savage
Imani Walker
Caprice Wilson

"The best field trip I've ever been on."

Eds. Note: Brian Rohal, Thurgood Marshall Academy's resident law professor, led this trip and contributed the following report.

[On Wednesday] 19 seniors went on a field trip to the U.S. Supreme Court, and then to a panel discussion and "mocktail hour" with a group of attorneys at the law firm of Fulbright and Jaworski. It was a truly once-in-a-lifetime trip in which the students met some highly influential and inspirational people. Some of the highlights included:
  • Being greeted by Justice Samuel Alito, who also ate lunch with the students.
  • Taking part in a discussion of the historic civil rights case of Sweatt v. Painter led by John Payton, head attorney for the NAACP Legal Defense Fund. Mr. Payton is the same attorney who argued (and won) the 2003 case of Grutter v. Bollinger, which upheld the affirmative action policy at the University of Michigan Law School.
  • Meeting and speaking with William Coleman, one of the attorneys who took part in the original Brown v. Board case in 1954 and who went on to argue many other important civil rights cases. Mr. Coleman, who has had a long career in public service, including serving as the Secretary of Transportation under President Ford, is 90 years old.
  • Sitting in on a panel discussion with several successful minority attorneys who spoke of the challenges and rewards of pursuing a legal career, as well as general college and career advice.
  • Spending an hour meeting several dozen attorneys of various backgrounds, including the current U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Texas, who is one of the most significant players in prosecuting major drug rings in the United States and Central America.
Overall it was a uniquely memorable day spent out of the school building. The fact that it happened is entirely due to Emma Levine, who made contact with the Just the Beginning Foundation in Chicago and followed through to make sure that our students were able to take part in a day that one of them called "the best field trip I've ever been on."

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Actively Engaging in our Democratic Society

Just before Spring Break, TMA's very own Keith Jenkins had the unique opportunity to really act out the mission of the school and personally engage in the democratic process. Upon learning about a DC Council public hearing discussing the proposed DC Healthy Schools Act, Keith decided he wanted to testify on behalf of the school's Green Club. Believing that TMA's Green Club could serve as a model for other school's hoping to implement such programs, Keith took the stand with confidence and poise while Mr. Ullery and a group of TMA students watched in the audience.

Click here to see the entire Healthy Schools Act hearing. Keith's testimony starts at the 4:58:20 mark and his response to questions starts at the 5:11:30 mark. Stay tuned for the status of the bill.

For all DC Residents, learn more about the bill and call your council member to express your support!

Here are some other pictures from the trip:

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

The Community and TMA Students Cope With Loss

Over TMA's Spring Break, there was a rash of violence in Southeast DC. Young males and females alike have lost their lives for reasons less significant than a five dollar debt. Numerous Thurgood Marshall students were directly affected by these losses. Many knew one or more of the recent victims personally, and if it affects our students it affects the entire TMA community. For those who may not be aware of these sad occurrences, here is a brief report:

The first event occurred the night of March 25, when two young men, both of whom are widely known in the area, lost their lives in a car crash. The community was shocked and saddened at the event and have grieved openly for the two beloved young men. Yet, on the Washington Post website, there were many comments that cast aspersions and made statements that were blatantly disrespectful, full of derision and held no regard for the friends and families of those young men. I was filled with anger at the sight of these ruthless posts. People are entitled to their own opinions but not at the expense of others. I do not advocate for comments that ignore the feelings of the family, friends and loved ones of victims.

Stories where young people have lost their lives are not hard to come by, sadly.

Just a few days after and only blocks away, there was another senseless death that was allegedly a response to a conflict over missing jewelry. The community is still at a loss for words as they saw four more young adults fall to the unreasonable violence of the D.C. streets. The shooting was classified as a"drive-by" in which the driver of the perpetrator's vehicle was only 14 years old. The mini-van, was occupied by three men, two of whom were adults. Two adults who allowed a 14 year old boy to drive a vehicle that was about to shoot into a crowd of teenagers in ruthless retaliation.

These stories are hard to digest, but these are the things that students at TMA and all over the DC area are forced to deal with on a daily basis. Dealing with a loss is never easy and most times unexpected but the least anyone can do for a person in that position is to offer a shoulder to help. Something to let them know that they do not have to deal with the hurt alone.

So this post is dedicated to anyone and everyone who wants to pay their respects to their fallen friends, family or loved ones. As well as for those who want to offer support in this time of need for many. A warrior's only trait is not strength but heart. And a true warrior's heart is just as big as her will. Post your thoughts, feelings or condolences. This post is dedicated to you.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Sitting around with nothing to do?

Just because Spring Break is officially over doesn't mean the fun has to end. Starting this week, Programs will be integrating three new, student-chosen clubs into the afterschool schedule. From here on out, Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays just got a lot more exciting.

Every Monday, dust off those sneakers and join Mr. Kaplan on the field for outdoor games. Every Tuesday, wipe your feet on the proverbial rhythm rug as you join Mr. P for some hip-hop. Close out the week in a more relaxing fashion as you and Ms. Gall display your more creative side in Thursday's Crafts Club. Better yet, come check out all three! Bring your friends as we close out the year with some exciting new programs.