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Parents forming PTSO at Anacostia High to address violence and lack of funding

Students asked for more programs, so parents are raising money to provide them.

WASHINGTON — Anacostia High School students face many barriers to success, from regular violence to funding deficits. 

They called for change in October, demanding more resources and programs from city leaders.

Parents have stepped up to respond to that request with what they said is the school's first Parent-Teacher-Student Organization in more than a decade.

"Losing another student, another male, has made a difference in our children’s activism, and they’re tired of seeing their friends die," Jocelyn Coleman, Strategy and Logistics Assistant and one of the founders of this PTSO, said. "They told us some things they want us to do, and we need to be able to have the funds to do that."

RELATED: 'We want to get home safely' | Anacostia High students demand action on gun violence from city leaders

The PTSO founders said part of the problem, historically, is the huge gap in median income between their ward and much of the rest of the district.

2017 census data shows the median income for Ward 8 is a little more than $30,000, while the median income for the city is a little over $80,000.

"Anacostia’s budget was actually cut last year," Coleman said. "The way we could get private funding, we could undercut that loss that we had."

They're trying to raise $50,000 by their event on Dec. 5. The goal?

"To level the playing field and be able to bring in those private resources so that our students and staff are able to tap into funding to do the extracurricular activities, in the way that other students around the district are able to experience," Latisha Chisholm, Connected School Manager for Anacostia High School, said. 

Some of the programs they're hoping to fund are mental health check-ins, technology, and after school programs.

They said they believe the programs would help cut down on some of the violence. 

"Just to have a safe place to go is important to us," Coleman said.

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