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The Ballou Story Project Series

Frank W. Ballou High School is located in Ward 8, SE Washington, DC. Locals may say it's "East of the River," meaning it's on the other side of the Anacostia River from the part of Washington that tourists generally come to visit: the National Mall, the White House, the Capitol, the Zoo. This part of town is all too often characterized as monolithic "Anacostia" and is known for being predominantly black, with widespread poverty and a high crime rate. The river often acts not only as a literal boundary but as metaphorical one, too, and that bridge that should connect these two Washingtons is all too rarely crossed.  

Ballou doesn't (yet) have a newspaper or literary magazine, and all too often its narrative is shaped by stories told by outsiders. With the Ballou Story Project, we're happy to hand that mic to the students themselves. They tell stories of struggle, certainly, but they also talk about a community of educators, administrators, and fellow students working hard, overcoming, and believing in each other. Ballou is a real and necessary home for many students.

When we do this work with these writers, we think about the power of framing. The stories we tell ourselves about who we are make all the difference.

There’s no single event that made me an adult. It’s not ‘once upon a time I was kid, and then I was a teen and learned how to grow up.’ For me I skipped that step. I was a kid and then I wasn’t.
— Essence Milling, Ballou HS Author