By Lisa Guernsey and Sonia Harmon
A sad truth about education is that the worst public schools tend to be in areas where the need is greatest. Such is the case in southeast Washington, D.C., which is why competition to get into the SEED School there is so fierce. For starters, SEED (Schools for Educational Evolution and Development) is a boarding school: Its 320 students, who are all chosen by lottery, live on the four-acre campus from Sunday night to Friday afternoon, returning to their homes on weekends. In addition, the school requires uniforms and enforces a strict routine: clubs after school, then dinner, study hall and bedtime.
This rigorous program opens up some extraordinary opportunities for students. In his six years at SEED, for example, senior Davanté Sanders joined movie and robotics clubs, took screenwriting classes at nearby American University, held an internship at a local company and participated in a Greek scholars program, visiting Greece for two weeks. Like 95 percent of SEED graduates, Sanders is headed to college: This fall he's enrolling at the prestigious University of Southern California -- a remarkable achievement for a young man from a city where far too many of his peers do not even graduate from high school.