Last Friday, on a perfectly sunny crisp fall morning, hundreds gathered outside on the grounds of DC Bilingual Public Charter School to celebrate the addition a spectacularly beautiful 27,000 square feet addition to the existing permanent facility. The new space grows the existing structure by 55 percent, and, most importantly, will allow the charter to increase its enrollment from its current size of 494 scholars to over 700.
Head of school Daniela Anello led the festivities that included, besides students and staff, the presence of many leaders of the school, the District of Columbia’s education sector, and D.C. government. In attendance were D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser, State Superintendent of Education Dr. Christina Grant; chair of the DC Public Charter School Board Lea Crusey; DC PCSB executive director Dr. Michelle Walker-Davis; and D.C. Council Ward 4 Council member Janeese Lewis George. Following an energetic performance by the Busy Bees, the school’s dance team, there were emotionally charged speeches by Mayor Bowser and the charter’s board chair Nadia Ramey, who both congratulated the school body on this important milestone. The next individual to address the attendees was Ms. Anello.
DC Bilingual is a tremendously successful school on many levels. For example, while educational institutions across the country posted declines in academic achievement coming out of the pandemic, DC Bilingual’s 2022 PARCC standardized test scores were the highest they have ever recorded. After interviewing the head of school in 2017 I came to understand that this attainment is due to a plethora of effort. Perhaps we can glean the reasons behind this feat from the words delivered by Ms. Anello on this day:
“Hello everyone my name is Daniela Anello and I am the incredibly proud Head of School at DC Bilingual.
Thank you for joining us for this special event. Today we will hear remarks from Mayor Bowser, who we are so excited to host, and from our Board Chair, Nadia Ramey. Then we invite everyone to join us in the ribbon cutting celebration. Afterwards, students will return to their classrooms and we invite our guests to join us inside for a reception featuring a historical display of the use of the land that we are so lucky to be on & have a school tour. We hope you will be able to stay the whole time.
Today’s celebration is in many ways the culmination of decades of work by literally hundreds of dedicated staff members, families, and supporters.
This is my fourteenth year working here, which means that I have had the privilege of have made DC Bilingual what it is today.
At the very beginning, our school was located in Columbia Heights and we had shared building space. We had a planter box as a school garden, a playground on the roof of the building that got extremely hot on sunny days, and for gym space we had to walk across several city blocks to the local neighborhood recreation center.
Today, we have the second-largest school garden in the city, two large, age-appropriate playgrounds, access to a large field, designated spaces for each of our six specials classes, brand new and well lit classrooms, a bilingual school library, and we even have a food lab!
We are very lucky–and I am so grateful we have access to so much!
Like many of our students. I am a first generation immigrant.
When I was four years old, my parents moved my sister and me to New York from Viña Del Mar, Chile in search for more opportunities and a better education.
Since then, I have spent my life trying to seize every opportunity presented to me, and I have learned first-hand the power of spaces that allow people to feel fully and completely themselves and to feel like they belong.
It’s a simple thing, but I’ve realized that experiencing a sense of belonging comes from having the opportunity to learn how to be our full selves and having access to resources with which we can thrive. Sadly this is something that not very many have the opportunity to receive.
This mindset is what drives me each and every day in my role as a school leader, and it’s the commitment I have made to our students, our staff and our caregivers.
Over the next five years we are looking to grow our school to serve over 700 students, and our dream is to ensure it remains a beautifully diverse and thriving school community.
This year we adopted the equitable access preference, which gives school entry to any student experiencing homelessness, who is in the foster care system, or receives government benefits. Our dream to grow our school to serve the students we know need the highest quality education came true.
DCB Staff: I feel incredibly honored to be able to serve you in this capacity , and I do not take for granted what it means to me to be part of this learning community here with you, working each day to better serve our students. Your dedication to our mission, your drive and your ability to go “all out” is contagious — even if it means having to join you on a choreographed dance to Olga Tanon in front of the whole school!!
To our parents & caregivers: thank you for choosing DC Bilingual to be part of your family, thank you for being part of our school team, and thank you for trusting us each day with your incredible children. We love them, we are inspired by them, and we are grateful for the chance to be a part of their lives.
To the DC Bilingual Board of Directors: thank you for helping our students follow their dreams, for opening new doors for us, and for always steering our ship in the right direction.
To our donors, and volunteers: you made this all possible, and we hope to make you proud.
To our Mayor, our councilmembers, ANC commissioners & our school partners: thank you for working hand in hand with us to ensure our students are safe and have access to the resources that will ensure the best experience possible at DC Bilingual.
To our project team, Gilbane Construction, Hord Coplan Macht (HCM), and John Breyer. Thank you for the design and construction of the building addition. The added facilities and outdoor spaces are more beautiful than we ever imagined, and we can’t wait to grow to fill all of our new spaces that you built for us.
And finally to our students: You are amazing. I urge each of you to seize every opportunity presented to you and that you proudly become bilingual scientists, mathematicians, avid readers, gardeners, cooks, performers and much more. But most importantly, I wish for you to become fully and completely yourselves. Know that you deserve all of this and remember that you always belong.
At DC Bilingual we have a tagline–“juntos somos lideres” or “Together we LEAD” This tagline couldn’t be more true for all of us right now. Let’s seize the opportunity to lead together and make sure everyone feels safe and welcome in the spaces we create. Thank you for being part of the DC Bilingual community. Juntos Somos Lideres!”