It was a hard high school experience for senior Dominique West. His mother died, he had to do one grade over again, and he was shot. But his teachers stuck with him, and he finally cracked the books. West is now on his way to Allegheny College in Pennsylvania.
"I had to let people know I wasn't playing," he says. "So I had to leave my friends alone, had to do my thing in class.
"I had to drop everything, had to drop all the nonsense, all the fights, all the violence," he continues. "But now, I'm proud I did it."
Almost 80 percent of West's graduating class is now college bound. That's up from 57 percent in 2009. Educators at the school chalk that up to reforms they instituted, such as uniforms, and splitting the school into four separate learning academies.
The school is a partnership between D.C. Public Schools and the Friendship Public Charter Schools. Friendship took over management of the school in 2009 when provisions of the No Child Left Behind act forced restructuring.