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No place to call ‘home’

Anacostia High sacrifices to get new stadium

(Published August 27, 2001)

By CHRIS SMITH

Staff Writer

This year, homecoming just won’t be the same at Anacostia Senior High School.

On Oct. 26, Anacostia’s homecoming king and queen will be crowned at Ballou Senior High School during halftime festivities of the Anacostia-Eastern varsity football game.

Anacostia will relinquish all of its home football contests in 2001 – a sacrifice students, teachers and administrators are willing to make - while the D.C. public school system constructs a new outdoor facility on the site of the Indians’ old stadium, said Willie Jumper, Anacostia’s assistant football coach.

"A homecoming at Ballou is better than no homecoming at all," Jumper said. "We got to do what we got to do to get the new stadium. Everyone is excited about the thought of playing night games in the Southeast."

The scope of the project, scheduled to begin Oct. 1, encompasses a new outdoor grass football field, track and supporting locker rooms, seating for 3,000, security systems, fencing and a three-level press box.

Currently Anacostia is the only school in the D.C. Interscholastic Athletic Association without an all-weather track. The new locker rooms will be located inside the stadium instead of adjacent to the old building, providing easier access to the football field, said Willie Stewart, longtime Anacostia head football coach.

The Indians will join Eastern and Spingarn as the only Eastern Division teams in the DCIAA with lighting for night activities.

Construction costs are expected to be $1.9 million, while production management costs will run to approximately $100,000, according to the city’s fiscal 2002 capital budget.

For years Anacostia has lagged behinds its DCIAA counterparts in providing up-to-date athletic facilities. The project’s facility upgrades are designed to "revitalize the educational environment" at Anacostia High School, according to the project description.

Money has been appropriated time and time again for Anacostia renovation projects, but Stewart is one of many who have watched nothing happen at the Southeast Washington school. The last time Anacostia’s outdoor athletic facilities were considered for renovation was during the 1990s.

"The renovation is past due," Stewart said. "I have seen four sets of blueprints for renovations since I arrived at Anacostia, but nothing has been done. The money was always used for other renovations. The new facility will definitely help our athletic program because kids like new things."

Anacostia is one of the last DCPS high schools to have work done, said Patricia Briscoe, DCIAA assistant director of athletics. "It is Anacostia’s time," she said. "They will reap the benefits of the new facility.

"Superintendent (Paul L.) Vance is very excited about the project. We anticipate the groundbreaking of the project no later than Oct. 1…. The facility will be state-of-the-art. We want to provide the necessary components for the stadium in compliance with the National Federation of State High School Associations."

The contractors selected to construct the new facility will use blueprints designed by the Army Corp of Engineers, whom DCPS officials have worked with on many capital improvement projects since the mid-1990s, most recently the new Kelly Miller Middle School being built in Northeast Washington, Briscoe said.

Stewart said the new stadium "should take 12 months to complete, but the contractors will be given a bonus if they finish in less time."

Copyright 2001, The Common Denominator