Ellington School in Spotlight for Renovation Plans -- and Sting Concert at Strathmore March 12
Sting will headline the seventh annual Performance Series of Legends benefit concert for the Duke Ellington School of the Arts, Wednesday, March 12, at 8 p.m. at the Music Center at Strathmore. He will be joined by special guest Paul Simon plus an additional surprise performer.
The benefit concert will help fund badly needed renovations at the arts school.
“We are absolutely thrilled that Sting has offered his resources and talents to our school," said Rory Pullens, Head of School and CEO of the Duke Ellington School of the Arts. "His contribution through this performance series not only gives our students inspiration and valuable exposure but provides a source of revenue that enables us to continue the important mission of providing arts education excellence to deserving students who wouldn't otherwise have this opportunity."
According to the school’s co-founder, Peggy Cafritz, “We are the only high school with a 100 percent graduation rate; 95 percent of our graduates go to college.” To stay enrolled, students must earn above a certain grade point average, while also completing 34 percent more credits, which the school requires in comparison to other D.C. public schools. Producing some of the best talent in the country, the Ellington School is ranked as one of D.C.'s top public high school. The school also benefits the community by admitting 40 percent of the most economically disadvantaged students in the community.
Meanwhile, Duke Ellington School’s renovation plans are top on the agenda for the Advisory Neighborhood Commission’s meeting March 4. Since its establishment in 1974, Georgetown and Burleith have supported the public school. Therefore, the renovation plans hold much significance for students and faculty at the school as well as the surrounding neighborhood. As the school is a landmarked building, the Old Georgetown Board and the Commission of Fine Arts have the authority to approve the plans. Certain elements of the renovation face controversy, such as a rooftop terrace. At a previous meeting, commissioners voted in favor of the school renovation but unanimously voiced “serious concerns about several elements in the concept submission.”
The funds for the renovation come from D.C.’s 2014 budget, which has committed $90 million dollars. The school hopes the city will continue to raise this amount to $130 million, as that is the average cost for high school renovations in the city.
The school’s annual Legends Benefit Concert on March 12 will contribute to those fundraising efforts. For this year’s concert, artists Sting and Paul Simon will perform -- free of charge -- as past performers have always done. With help from the city and from the benefit concert, the school hopes to move out of the planning phase and break ground this year.
The concert is the latest installment of the Duke Ellington School of the Arts’ Performance Series of Legends that has previously featured Dave Chappelle, Denyce Graves, Stevie Wonder, Earth Wind & Fire, Smokey Robinson and Patti Labelle.
Individual ticket prices for 8 p.m. March 12 performance are between $250 and $750. VIP tickets are $1,000 each and will include access to a private reception prior to the concert. Sponsorship levels range from $5,000-$100,000 and are available through the Ellington Fund at 202-333-2555 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Visit www.ellingtonschool.org for details.