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New Public Charter High School In Southeast D.C. Opens Doors To Freshman

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Over the past year we've been following the progress of a newly founded public charter high school in Southeast D.C.: National Collegiate Prep.

This week the school welcomes its first crop of students. It took years of planning to get to the first day of school at National Collegiate prep. But co-founder Jennifer Ross has little time to let that sink in--she's busy watching the waistlines of her new freshman as they walk through the halls.

"Shirts must be tucked in!" Ross shouts.

The uniform, a polo shirt with the school emblem and slacks or a skirt, is one thing parents seem to like about National Collegiate. Even students, like Brianna Taylor, seem to appreciate it--sort of.

"I don't like it," Brianna says. "But I'll wear it. It's a nice uniform." Brianna's mother, Angela Martin, says public schools haven't been bad for her daughter, but it's nice to have an option. "The ratio of students to teachers in public schools is very large," Martin says.

Collegiate's co-founder Regina Rodriguez, is also the head of school. She says while parents may be thankful for options, she's thankful for their willingness to give her school a chance. Many signed on even before national collegiate prep secured its building on 9th and Wahler.

"We were doing this without a building, without teachers, without any visible evidence of a school," Rodriguez says. "It was a tremendous leap of faith for parents."

Rodriguez and Ross set of a goal of enrolling 125 freshman this school year--currently, they have about 100.

Jonathan Wilson reports...

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