The eight-story “Tower of Power” is gone, and with it the escalators so balky that they made Metro’s seem reliable. So are the bleak stretches of windowless concrete that gave H.D. Woodson the look and feel of a penal institution rather than a high school in far Northeast Washington.
On Wednesday, District officials will cut the ribbon on a new $102 million Woodson, one bathed in natural light from expansive windows and a central atrium. Graphic panels running the length of the four-level main staircase will feature images touching on the school’s STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) curriculum and pay tribute to figures from Einstein and Edison to astronaut Mae Jemison and Euphemia Lofton Haynes, the first African American woman to earn a PhD in mathematics. Classrooms and laboratories that were either freezing or stifling in the old Woodson are now habitable and loaded with technology.
Officials hope that when students begin classes Aug. 22 after spending three years in temporary spaces — ninth-graders at Ron Brown Middle School on Meade Street in Northeast, the rest at the former Fletcher-Johnson Education Center on Benning Road in Southeast — the new surroundings will help lift spirits and aspirations.