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Southeast, DC middle school finds hope in tragedy

Digital Pioneers Academy is launching a football program in memory of two students and one teacher that were killed between October 2022 and January 2023.

WASHINGTON — For the first time ever, the Digital Pioneers Academy will be home to a football program, thanks in part to the NFL Players Coalition. The Southeast, D.C. middle school is still recovering from multiple tragedies, after 16-year old Jakhi Snider was fatally shot in Anacostia in November and 14-year old Antione Manning was shot and killed on Halloween night in Southeast. A DPA teacher, Keenan Anderson, also died after he was tased by police in Los Angeles in January. 

But the school community said they will find hope from their tragedies. 

The NFL Players Coalition, a nonprofit founded by former NFL players dedicated to making an impact on social justice and racial equality, is helping to play a role in giving the school their hope back. As part of the partnership, former NFL cornerback and Prince George's County native Kyle Arrington spoke to students Wednesday about the importance of sports and community. 

"I didn’t write my own ticket," Arrington said. "But with undeniable hard work and the support of my community, my teachers, my coaches, my family ... I didn’t have an excuse to not be successful."

Arrington presented Digital Pioneers Academy Founder and CEO Mashea Ashton with a $100,000 check to help the program reach it's goal of $275,000 to cover transportation, uniforms, equipment and field costs. DPA has set up a GoFundMe to help raise the additional $175,000.

Sophomore Durjuin "Fred" McRoy will be the Pythons' quarterback and says he and Snider grew up playing recreational league football together. They had talked about starting a program at Digital Pioneers Academy. McRoy said he plans to win every game in Snider's memory.

"We're going to ball out for him," he said. 

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