Summer 2016 Newsletter
A Strong Finish
to the 2016 School Year 

A Note from the Executive Director 

 On Friday, June 10, the Bishop Walker School marked a significant milestone when we launched our 6th grade class into their lives beyond the nurturing and supportive environment of BWS.  Because of space constraints at our temporary facility at the Washington View apartment complex, we made the difficult decision to help our inaugural class secure placement in other schools for their 7th grade year.  Working closely with each student’s family, we endeavored to help each boy find the “right fit” for them.  At a very emotional promotion ceremony, each member of this special class was celebrated for their unique attributes and contributions to the Bishop Walker School community.  During my remarks to the class, I encouraged the boys to guard their reputations, nurture healthy and supportive relationships and rely on the resilience that has served them so well during their tenure at BWS.  Recognizing that they will face new and uncharted challenges as they embark upon this next phase of their educational journey, I pledged that we would walk with them each step of the way. 
We are proud of each student who will now take on the mantle of alumni representative. We reaffirm our commitment to implement our full vision to add two additional grades until we serve a full complement of boys from Jr. Kindergarten to 8th grade, to move into a new facility at THEARC in the fall of 2017, and to develop a robust graduate support program which will ensure support for our students throughout their high school years and beyond.  Because of the generous support of our growing extended family, the future is bright for the Bishop Walker School.  Thank you for helping to make our boys’ dreams come true.  Wishing you a summer full of new adventures, restful renewal and abiding peace!

James R. Woody
Executive Director and President

The Future   

If Thomas Piketty is right or even if he is heading in the right direction, then his research on 200 years of economic theory suggests that when our current Bishop Walker School students graduate from college, almost all wealth will be inherited.  A small band of "patrimonial capitalists" will control a political economy that primarily serves their interests. The gap between the "haves" and the "have nots" will widen by geometric proportion, and the bottom strata will find themselves abysmally immersed in a world likely to be insensitive to them or their needs.  Then, the once Herculean task of creating an equitable society becomes Sisyphean, as motivation is met by a golden ceiling.

Meanwhile, underneath the ceiling, where the rest of the real people really live, there are collaborations and curiosity.  There are core values and beliefs. Questions and goals.  Teachers modeling and explaining "why" and "why not."  Mathematical concepts are being deconstructed, and literary genres introduced and understood. Hikers traipse through urban ecosystems, while, on our balcony at Washington View, seeds become thriving vegetation.  Slave quarters are visited, and the secrets of espionage come alive.  Letters become word become sentences, all as wildly enthusiastic minds silently cheer victoriously.  Basketball games are played and boys tussle.  Lessons are taught and boys are learning from experts in law, science, and heroes in everyday life.  Each day, the opportunity for new life to begin...and the vibrant choral strains sing out, "I may not be all that you are..."

It matters what wise learned men say.  It also matters that there are Theorists-in-waiting.  Children waiting for the opportunity to make their mark on history by discovering new ideas, researching new ideas, and negating what "has been."  There is beauty yet to be discovered, theories to be conceived, and a world waiting to be better than we ever imagined.

Tawana Cook Purnell

Head of School

BWS Holds Its First Science Fair  
This spring, the fifth and sixth grades competed in the first ever Bishop Walker School (BWS) Science Fair. Working in pairs, the boys completed seven projects, ranging in topics from which paper airplane design flies best to what iron-filled breakfast cereal is the most magnetic. The boys’ projects were judged by a combination of BWS staff and community volunteers, including Willis Jenkins, Senior Program Executive for the Heliophysics Explorers program at NASA. Each pair of boys presented their project to the judges, their teachers, and their fellow students. Afterwards, the judges selected a first and second place winner based on the boys’ projects, as well as their presentations. The first place project focused on what ingredients make the best invisible ink, and the second place project tested how a person’s age impacts their reaction time.


“I had a lot of fun assisting the students with science fair preparations,” said volunteer Monifa Barrow-Wass, who helped organize the Science Fair. “It was pretty amazing to see the students investigate questions and begin to develop a sense of Science as participatory.  I loved hearing students explain the results of their data with the confidence that can only come from the experience of impartial observation.” Pattie Kindsvater, another BWS community volunteer involved in setting up the Science Fair said, “The best moments in the weeks before the fair were when a team actually began testing its hypothesis and could see how things really worked.  The excitement and wonder made the whole project worthwhile.  Of course, when one boy exclaimed, ‘I LOVE science!’ that was a big moment, too.”

BWS Finishes Fourth in DC Flag Rugby Championship 
The Bishop Walker School won its first athletic trophy this May in the DC Flag
Rugby Championship. Our 20 member team made of 3rd through 6thgraders practiced the entire school year under the supervision of Coaches Herb Scott (Music and Admissions director) and Julian Purkiss (J-K assistant teacher).  Over the course of the day, the Kings played in three games at Raymond Recreation Center, winning two. “The most rewarding part was seeing the boys take coaching instruction and using it on the playing field,” said Coach Scott. “They showed good sportsmanship, determination, and grit. They were extremely enthusiastic about learning a new sport, and they gave their best effort.” In the end, that effort paid off for the boys, as they nearly reached the championship game before losing in overtime in the semifinals.   


One of the player’s mothers commented on the tournament, “My husband and I really enjoyed watching the boys play rugby. They were really psyched about the tournament, and for weeks, all my son could talk about was rugby. This is something really good for BWS, because it helped the boys learn teamwork, and they learned how to communicate better with their teammates. I am really looking forward to next year’s tournament!”  

Shakespeare Steps Out 
In May, the Bishop Walker School participated in the Folger Shakespeare Library’s Children’s Shakespeare Festival for the first time in school history. Twenty-four boys in 1st, 2nd, 5th, and 6th grades performed a shortened rendition of Macbeth along with several other area schools that also presented their own renditions of Shakespearean dramas. Working with community volunteer and teaching artist Khaleshia Thorpe-Price, the boys rehearsed their parts for almost two months, culminating in a performance on stage at the Folger Shakespeare Theater. Music Teacher Herb Scott, who helped organize the boys’ efforts, said, “This was the first theatrical performance for most of the boys. They wrestled with the language a bit, but they treated it seriously and had a great time.” 

Khaleshia commented, “It was a pleasure to direct the BWS boys and help them prepare for their first performance in the Folger Festival. The experience was both challenging and rewarding, working with young performers in both elementary and middle school to create an all-male Shakespeare ensemble. I hope that this experience has created a lifelong connection to Shakespeare and theatrical performance.”

All Boys Dream
The Bishop John T. Walker School fiscal year 2016 closes on June 30th. BWS is continually advancing, and since our founding in 2008, we have grown from 1 class of 13 four-year olds to 93 students in 8 grades. As a tuition-free independent school, our goal is to fully fund our operations, including new initiatives like the Science Fair, flag rugby, and theatrical performances, so that we can continue to serve more boys from underserved communities, help them realize their dreams, and reach their full potential.
This year, the Bishop Walker School student body grew by more than 10%, and as the size of our student body increases, so must our community of donors.  To keep pace with our growth, we must inspire more financial commitments dedicated to our work. Please consider a tax deductible gift to the Bishop Walker School to help the school reach its goal and our boys achieve their dreams! Click here to make a secure online gift today. 


Pictures from Recent BWS Events

6th Grade Promotion Ceremony





Truck Touch

Family and Friends Day


Science Fair

Bishop John T. Walker School for Boys | 3640 Martin Luther King, Jr. Ave. SE | Washington DC 20032