Mayor Muriel Bowser along with councilmembers, educators and residents gathered on Saturday morning, Sept. 28, to cut a ribbon celebrating the opening of a new home for the Benjamin Banneker Academic High School. One of the most academically rigorous schools in the DC Public School (DCPS) system, Banneker had been located on Euclid Street in a Depression-era building.
“For 40 years, Banneker students and educators have made DC proud. Today, we deliver on our promise to the Banneker community with a world-class facility that embodies their decades-long commitment to academic excellence,” said Mayor Bowser. “We recognize that our community now has this stunning school because our Banneker Achievers refused to settle for anything less than what they deserved. The best part of all of this: we can now deliver the highest quality Banneker education to even more young people in our city ‒ and that should make us all proud.”
The $135 million project produced a 175,000-square-foot, four-story building, with more than 30 classrooms and specialty labs for science courses, lab spaces with the latest technology, resource rooms that include spaces for small group projects and instruction, as well as gym and cafeteria spaces. Exterior sculpture and murals by local artists decorate the building. The school has its own regulation-sized running track and recreational field.
Banneker is DCPS’ first Net Zero Energy Ready building, producing as much energy as it uses. Its energy-generation suite features an underground, geothermal-water-source heat pump, and solar panels installed on the roof of the building and on the canopies located above the athletic field bleachers and staff parking lot.
The Banneker project also provides improvements for the neighborhood, such as a new skatepark, an improved dog park, a tennis court, two basketball courts, an outdoor fitness area and outdoor seating areas. The Department of Parks and Recreation opened these amenities on October 2, with a formal ceremony coming later.
RAMMY Awards Return to Shaw
Restaurant Association Metropolitan Washington (RAMW) brought the RAMMY awards, celebrating excellence in the restaurant and hospitality industry, back to the Washington Convention Center on Sunday evening, Sept. 19. Entitled “A Night among Bright Stars,” the 2021 RAMMYs were the first in-person version of the event since the pandemic started. This year’s format differed from past years, with all attendees required to provide proof of COVID-19 vaccinations and with a list of award categories that expressed some of the stresses of the past 18 months on the restaurant industry.
Shaw establishments got a lot of nominations, but only a few awards. DC Ghostburger, based at Espita Mezcaleria, won for Outstanding Ghost Kitchen or Pop-up Concept. In accepting the award, Espita Chef Rob Aikens credited the pop-up with allowing the restaurant to rehire its employees during the pandemic crisis. Oyster Oyster won the award for Most Innovative To-Go Packaging Game. Oyster Oyster Chef Rob Rubba also got a Good Neighbor Award for his work with Willa Pelini and Paola Velez in Bakers against Racism last year.
In a surprise move, all the nominees for the Manager of the Year and Employee of the Year categories got awards. Autumn Harriger of Espita and Tylyn Mallon of Right Proper Brewing got the award for Manager of the Year, while Adrian Godinez of RPM Italian and Alicia Ramos of Convivial were designated Employees of the Year. The RAMMY judges added two special honorable mention categories this year. One, for Best Wine to Go program, included Shaw’s Grand Cata, La Jambe and Maxwell Park. Honorees in the second category, entitled Sweet Relief, included Baking and Pastry to Go, Astro Doughnuts & Fried Chicken and Buttercream Bakeshop.
One Shaw restaurant did not have to wait for the RAMMYs to get a major award. Andy’s Pizza, which has an outlet on Ninth Street, won the top prize for Best Traditional Pizza at the International Pizza Expo & Conference in Las Vegas at the end of August. The prize-winning pizza is available in Shaw seven days a week.
Shaw Home to New Murals
Any observer of Shaw streetscapes will probably notice a recent explosion in the number of murals and public art. Perhaps the biggest new mural is “Together,” going up in the 1300 block of Ninth Street. The mural, by local artists Maggie O’Neal, Nia Ketura Calhoun and Lisa Marie Thalhammer, was funded by the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities (DCCAH) Public Art Building Communities grant program and managed by Shaw Main Streets. It depicts citizens demonstrating for their rights in the nation’s capital. Other murals from Shaw Main Streets and DCCAH will be painted on the 1600 block of Seventh Street and the 1200 block of Ninth Street this fall. Noted muralist Aniekan Udofia is painting a Department of Public Works Murals DC program design devoted to the theme of DC statehood. It features recently deceased Broadway star and perennial candidate for DC Mayor Faith Dane. The mural enlivens the rear wall of The Shay’s east building, along with a mural by Kaliq Crosby.
Eat. Drink. Shaw. Nov. 4
Shaw Main Streets is bringing back its popular event, Eat. Drink. Shaw, on Thursday night, Nov. 4. Last year’s event, which was planned to have neighborhood restaurants serving samples at the Howard theatre, along with drinking, dancing and conviviality, had to be cancelled owing to pandemic restrictions.
This year’s event has a new format. Participants of Eat. Drink. Shaw. In a Box will purchase a ticket and pick up a box at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center. The box will contain certificates redeemable for food and beverage samples at 30 Shaw bars and restaurants during the following two weeks. The boxes will also contain other surprises. A streaming video will introduce the chefs and mixologists and the items to be enjoyed at each location.
“We thought about having the samples in the boxes, but decided the reheating and other preparation steps would take the fun out of the experience,” said Shaw Main Streets Executive Director Alexander Padro. “This way, instead of a one-night event, guests can enjoy two weeks of dining and drinking and visiting each bar and restaurant on the list.” Proceeds support Shaw Main Streets’ commercial revitalization and historic preservation activities. Tickets are $100, with a maximum of 300 available. For more information, visit eatdrinkshaw.com.