Duke Ellington School of the Arts

Duke Ellington School of the Arts, is a high-school in Washington, DC, offering a dual arts & academ

Named for one of the world's greatest composers, the Duke Ellington School of the Arts developed and grew from the collaborative efforts of Peggy Cooper Cafritz and Mike Malone, founders of Workshops for Careers in the Arts in 1968. The initial move into the Georgetown location was in 1971, when it was still named Western High School. In May 1974, in consortium with representatives of DC Public Sc

Operating as usual


The story of life in this small American town is a portrait of the universal experiences of life, love and death. Thornton Wilder’s Pulitzer Prize-winning play celebrates what it means to be human and the bonds that unite us all.

Photos from Duke Ellington School of the Arts's post 04/01/2024

From mesmerizing moves to unforgettable moments, reliving the magic of our senior class dance department’s showcase “Emergence!” 💫✨


Join us for ‘Elemental: A celebration of 50 years of hip-hop’ presented by the Museum Studies Department. 🎉 Gallery exhibition on March 28 from 6 to 7:30 pm. Don’t miss out - RSVP to [email protected]! 🎶


🏀 History in the making! Ellington’s first-ever Student vs. Faculty Basketball game is almost here! 🌟 Come show your support as we hit the court for a thrilling showdown. Your ticket purchase not only backs the SGA class of 2025 but also fuels the dreams of our very own Cire Wilson as he represents Ellington with the PhD Hoops USA Team abroad. 🌍 Let’s make this event legendary!

Don’t forget to include your “First Name, Last Name - Ticket” in the note section when purchasing your ticket for confirmation. See you on the sidelines! 🎟️✨ 🌟🏀

Photos from Duke Ellington School of the Arts's post 03/11/2024

Mesmerizing melodies, electrifying moves, and unforgettable moments - the Ellington Show Choir’s performance ‘Remember the Time’ was an absolute masterpiece! 🎶✨

Pictures captured by our Communications Manager Preston Winkfield.


🌟 Excited to announce SDC Studios’ Limitless24 Production: ‘Emergence’! 🌟 Join us for an unforgettable showcase presented by the talented Seniors of the Dance Department. Save the date: March 8th, 5:30 pm. General Admission: $15, Duke Student Admission: $10. Don’t miss out on this electrifying event! Tickets can be purchased through our websites Box Office. ”

Photos from Duke Ellington School of the Arts's post 03/01/2024

We are thrilled to announce that two Ellington students will be hosting an Open Mic at the Congress Heights Arts & Culture Center on March 9th. Join us at 3200 Martin Luther King Jr Ave SE, Washington, D.C, 20020, from 3:00pm to 6:00pm.

This is your opportunity to shine! Whether you’re a passionate poet, dramatic actor, singer with the voice of an angel, or a visual artist eager to showcase your work, we invite YOU to share your talents at the Young and Gifted Open Mic.

Admission is $10, and it promises to be an unforgettable event filled with food, music, interactive games, and good vibes. Don’t miss out on the chance to create lasting memories with fellow talented individuals.


Ellington: Where Black History Thrives 🎶 From shaping legends to inspiring greatness, our institution has been a cornerstone in the narrative of Black excellence. 🌟 Let's celebrate the enduring legacy and profound impact of Ellington on the journeys of countless talented Black individuals. 🖤


Voices in Motion Show Choir proudly presents "Remember The Time: A Celebration of Music", an electrifying tribute honoring the rich contributions of black artists past and present. Through soul-stirring melodies and captivating choreography, the choir brings to life the iconic sounds that have shaped generations. Join us on February 23 at 7 PM and February 24 at 3 PM for an unforgettable journey through the timeless classics and contemporary hits that continue to inspire and resonate with audiences worldwide. Don't miss this opportunity to witness the power of music and pay homage to the enduring legacy of black musicians.


Explore a world of creativity and unique finds as the Ellington costume shop opens its doors for an exclusive event. Prepare for a one-of-a-kind shopping experience, as the costume shop is selling half of its inventory just in time for the approaching prom season.

Hosted by the Technical Design and Production (TDP) Department, this late winter “Flea Market” fundraiser promises an array of costumes and pieces that will be available for sale. Whether you’re looking for a vintage-inspired gown or a standout accessory, this event is your chance to discover hidden treasures while supporting a great cause.

Mark your calendars for Saturday, February 10, 2024, and join us from 10 AM to 3 PM. The fundraiser aims to generate funds for TDP students, enabling them to embark on an exciting trip to New York. Your participation will not only contribute to the success of the event but also help these aspiring artists gain valuable experiences.


Dear Ellington Community,

Due to weather conditions, Ellington will be closed Friday, January 19. This decision is made in consideration of the safety and well-being of our students and staff.

Stay safe and warm.


🎶✨ Join us for a magical musical journey at our Winter Concert presented by the Instrumental & Vocal Music Departments! 🌟 Save the dates: December 15th at 7pm and December 16th at 3pm. 📅❄️ Immerse yourself in the enchanting melodies and harmonies that will warm your winter nights! 🎻

Please click the link in our bio to purchase tickets🎟️


✨ Join us for a magical night of enchantment and laughter at the Theatre Senior Showcase! 🎭✨ Immerse yourself in the whimsical world of ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream,’ brought to life by our talented Senior Theatre Students. 🌙🌸 Mark your calendars for December 7th and 8th at 7:30 pm – it’s a performance you won’t want to miss! 🎟️✨

Please click the link in our bio to purchase tickets!

Photos from Duke Ellington School of the Arts's post 11/10/2023

We extend our heartfelt gratitude to Dave Chappelle , the Boris L. Henson Foundation (BLHF) , and Tracie Jade , the Executive Director of BLHF, for being apart of our Day of Wellness on October 27. At Duke, we place a strong emphasis on the well-being and mental health of our students, faculty, and staff. The BLHF, Tracie Jade, and Dave Chappelle took the initiative to address our school community about the significance of wellness, and we are profoundly appreciative. Thank you to all the practitioners who joined us for Wellness Day. Their unwavering commitment to this crucial cause has deeply touched our community, and we express our immense gratitude for their dedication.

Photos from Duke Ellington School of the Arts's post 10/10/2023

An unforgettable evening of inspiration, unity, and music at the March on Washington Film Festival Reception & Concert, in September 30th! With powerful performances by Yolanda Adams, thought-provoking words from Reverend Delman Coates and Reverend Stephen A. Green, and inspiring insights from activist Rahiel Tesfamariam, this event was truly remarkable. In addition, the performances by The Duke Ellington Concert Choir and Dr. Patrick Lundy and the Ministers of Music left us in awe! Thank you to the March on Washington Film Festival Team for allowing Duke Ellington to be a part of such a memorable experience! 🎥🎶✨

Thank you !


Experience the spirit of the Holy Ghost with us at “Pulpits, Protest & Power: The Church and The Civil Rights Movement!”
An evening reception & concert by the March on Washington Film Festival, this event will celebrate activists, preachers, and artists of the past and present, who have harnessed the power of faith and community in the name of Civil Rights. Enjoy fiery talks from Rev. Delman Coates, Rev. Stephen A. Green, Dr. Patrick Lundy & The Ministers of Music, soloist Jeannine Anderson, Urban Cusp founder Rahiel Tesfamariam, as well as a special performance from Gospel legend Yolanda Adams.

This memorable event will take place Saturday, September 30th at 7:00 PM at the Duke Ellington School of the Arts in the Washington, D.C. Get your ticket now in the link in bio to attend in person or via our livestream!


Join the March on Washington Film Festival from Sept 24th - Oct 1st, in Washington, D.C. or online nationwide to meet visionaries at the forefront of the Civil Rights Movement, witness eye-opening film screenings and breathtaking performances from artists including gospel music legend and composer & musical director and experience the profound influence of remarkable special guests U.S. Senator and Reverend Al Sharpton ().
This year’s theme explores the role of the Church, its preachers and protest leaders of the Civil Rights Movement, and the impact on activism today.
Want to enjoy the festival, but can't travel to D.C.? We are delighted to provide you with FREE access to the virtual festival pass. Just enter the code at checkout: VIRTUAL2023. This code will unlock free access for all virtual presentations, livestreams of signature events, and 20+ on-demand film screenings.
Visit www.mowff.org and claim your ticket now or visit the ’s bio for link.


We are proud to announce that Hank Willis Thomas, a DESA Museum Studies alum, is being awarded a U.S. Department of State Medal of Arts on September 13, 2023 . The medal will be presented by Dr. Jill Biden. Congratulations, Hank!

“This year’s honorees, like those before them, selflessly offer their creative talents to the mission of American cultural diplomacy.

Artworks on display in embassies and residences are potent soft power tools of diplomacy.”

— Megan Beyer, Director of Art in Embassies

Read the press release here:https://art.state.gov/portfolio/press-release-office-of-art-first-lady-to-bestow-state-department-medal-of-arts/

Photos from Duke Ellington School of the Arts's post 06/26/2023

🎉 Congratulations, Class of 2023! 🎉🎓

You did it! 🙌 After years of hard work, dedication, and countless late nights, you have reached the finish line. This is your moment to shine and celebrate all that you have accomplished. We couldn't be prouder of each and every one of our artists-scholars. 🎓✨

A special thank you to our graduation speaker, David E. Talbert. His speech encouraged students to dream big, overcome obstacles, and never give up on their aspirations.

May you continue to strive for greatness, follow your passions, and make your dreams a reality. 🌠✨

Photos from Duke Ellington School of the Arts's post 06/02/2023

Register for the annual Can We Talk? Symposium and Joy Awards. This is a FREE virtual Event on Saturday, Jun 3, 2023, hosted by one of our partners, the Boris Lawrence Henson Foundation. This year we are shining a spotlight on Black youth and mental health and DESA's own Principal Logan will be featured in a panel discussing how youth view themselves—and each other— within a system that gives vital resources to some students, but not others, and the effects of these disparities on their mental health. DESAP Board Member, Jeanette McCune will also be on a panel discussing The Autism Grind: Parental Coping Skills. Click here to register: https://hopin.com/events/copy-of-can-we-talk-symposium-joy-awards-b99e85bd-4e0b-47d5-993c-571d84c8e955/registration

Photos from Duke Ellington School of the Arts's post 05/30/2023

🎉🎓 Congratulations to the incredible Class of 2023! 🎉🎓
We were thrilled to celebrate the momentous occasion of our annual College Decision Day, where we honored the milestones of our amazing seniors!

We have some truly incredible news to share. The Class of 2023 has raised an astounding 22 million dollars in scholarships so far! 🙌💰 This remarkable achievement is a testament to your hard work, dedication, and exceptional abilities (and shout out to our hard-working college counselors!)

As you embark on this new chapter, remember to embrace the opportunities that come your way, pursue your passions, and make the most of the resources available to you. Your potential is limitless, and we cannot wait to see the incredible things you will achieve in college and beyond.

Congratulations once again, Class of 2023! 🎉🎓 Your future is bright, and we couldn't be prouder. Let's celebrate this milestone and look forward to the incredible journey ahead! 🎉✨


TONIGHT: Visual Arts Department presents PATCHWORKS, Opening Night, May 19 at 6PM

PATCHWORKS showcases the artistic creations of DESA Seniors and gives the DC community an an excellent opportunity to get to know DC's up and coming artists. At the opening, attendees will be able to buy original works of art or donate to the Visual Arts Department. Studio Museum, one of our long-time partners, will be sending a representative to jury our senior show for the second time in two years. This event is free and open to the public.



Journey to The Past: Voices In Motion - Saturday Show Cancelled


We regret to share that due to unforeseen circumstances, this afternoon's Voices In Motion Show Choir performance has been canceled. We sincerely apologize for any inconveniences and disappointments caused by this decision. We hope to reschedule another opportunity over these last several weeks of school to present at least a sampling of our Voices In Motion Show Choir spring production. Our students have worked too hard. We thank you for your understanding and support.

We will keep you updated on a rescheduled date. If you would like a refund, please reach out to Ms. Veronica Martin at [email protected]

DESA Administration

Photos from Duke Ellington School of the Arts's post 05/04/2023

Join the DESA Vocal Music Show Choir inside the Duke Ellington Theatre this Friday evening at 7:00 PM and Saturday at 5:00 PM!

Journey to the Past: Voices in Motion is a show you don't want to miss. From Once On This Island to Dear Evan Hansen to The Wiz and The Lion King, the Voices In Motion Show Choir promises to wow this weekend's audiences with a tour-de-force of Showbiz classics! We are going on a spectacular "JOURNEY TO THE PAST" where we remember some of the Show Choir's award-winning performances like "Take the A-Train", "Joyful, Joyful", "It Don't Mean a Thing If It Ain't Got That Swing", excerpts from the Moses Hogan Suite, and a MOTOWN R***e that you'll never forget.

Visit our box office to purchase tickets: https://www.ellingtonschool.org/box-office


TOMORROW: Museum Studies Department Presents:
Go-Go: The Sound of DC
Thursday, April 27 at 6:00 PM

Go-Go: The Sound of DC, is an exhibition that honors and celebrates the home-grown genre of music called Go-Go. Rooted in jazz, funk, and hip hop, Go-Go thrives on live performances which uses call and response to further connect with the audience. And, for all of Go-Go's attributes, it is the "beat" that sets it apart from other American music. It is that unmistakable rhythmic beat created by playing the congas, drums, and rototoms. The power of this music projects an energy that stimulates most listeners to move in some way-- a sway, bounce, shake, and/or roll. Whatever the response, GoGo has been known to be good for the body and for the soul.

This exhibition, also, acknowledges the Go-Go community's cultural impact on Washington, DC, and its unyielding activism, past and present, to bring about social change. GoGo serves as a life-changing agent for the people of DC and beyond. Click here to RSVP: https://www.ellingtonschool.org/box-office

Emilia Baltazar, Scholar Blango (Museum Studies, Class of 2024)


You are cordially invited to the Duke Ellington School of the Arts Instrumental Music Chamber Group Concert on April 6, 2023. Doors open at 3:30 p.m. and the performance begins at 4:00 p.m.

This is a free event but we're asking all guests to please RSVP using this link: https://www.universe.com/events/chamber-group-concert-tickets-5QCRHK

Please make sure you have a copy of your ticket confirmation to show at the door. We look forward to seeing you there!


The Duke Ellington School of the Arts Instrumental Music Department Presents:

The Solo Strings Recital
March 24, 2023, at 7:00 p.m.

This concert will feature solo violin, solo cello, and solo bass performances as well as a violin duet, viola duet, and a bass quartet. This is an opportunity to experience the talents of some of DC's finest up-and-coming-string players/students. We hope to see you there!

Click here to purchase tickets (*free for children under 12): https://www.ellingtonschool.org/box-office/


Ms. Purdie, a native of Washington, DC, has been teaching and playing the cello for many years. She was a music major at McKinley High School before there was a high school for performing arts. While there, she was listed in the Who's Who book of outstanding high school musicians. As a member of the D.C. Youth Orchestra, she traveled to Berlin, Germany, Aberdeen, Scotland and London, England. While in London, she auditioned for the International Youth Orchestra . Ms. Purdie is the Director of Strings and the Cello Technique Instructor at Duke
Ellington School of the Performing Arts. Outside of DC, she teaches cello for the PG Philharmonic Symphony Kids.

Ms. Purdie studied cello with Ronald Feldman of the Boston Symphony (1975), Robert Newkirk at Catholic University (1975-1976) and with Russian Cellist, Sieva Lezhnev for many years. She was the first black female to join the U.S. Marine Band, called "The President's Own" in 1977, and the first black to retire after twenty years of service. She has received a certificate of recognition from Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton. Ms. Purdie is co-founder of "Strings for Christ Ministries". She is a member of the Soulful Symphony conducted by Darin Atwater. She has played with the Pan American Symphony Orchestra, the
American Studio Orchestra, Colour of Music Symphony and is currently playing with PG Philharmonic.

Mrs. Purdie has traveled outside of the States playing and teaching in Trinidad & Tobago and the Ukraine. She has performed with many major artists such as: Chelsey Greene, Patti Labelle, O’Jay’s, Denyce Graves, Amy Grant, Larry Graham, Michael W. Smith, Richard
Smallwood and Joshua Bell to name a few.

Photos from Duke Ellington School of the Arts's post 03/15/2023

The Duke Ellington School of the Arts Dance Department's Senior Showcase is this Friday, March 17! Join us for THE INFLUENCE. This Dance Concert provides the Dance Department's Class of 2023 with the opportunity to demonstrate the technical skills and performance qualities they have been working on during the course of their artistic journey at Ellington. So be sure to tell your friends, neighbors, and family to come to support the dance seniors! Click here to purchase tickets: https://www.universe.com/users/duke-ellington-school-of-the-arts-XKPF6

Want your school to be the top-listed School/college in Washington D.C.?

Click here to claim your Sponsored Listing.

The Ellington Experience – a commitment to community engagement and arts education and enrichment.

The Duke Ellington School of the Arts was established in 1974 and remains the sole D.C. public high school to offer a dual curriculum encompassing professional arts training and academic enrichment, in preparation for college and careers in the arts.

By naming one of his jazz bands The Washingtonians, Duke Ellington made his home part of his persona. D.C. philanthropist and avid art collector Peggy Cooper Cafritz and the late dancer and choreographer Mike Malone returned the favor, building this school to house the creative soul of the District, and to reflect the rich cultural diversity of the United States. From the beginning, public and private partnerships have supported the school, which in 2000 evolved into the Duke Ellington School of the Arts Project (DESAP), which includes the D.C. Public Schools, the Ellington Fund, the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, and George Washington University.

The Duke Ellington School of the Arts has a long history of supporting communities in the Washington Metropolitan area, across the United States and abroad, by providing arts education and enrichment through professional high-quality artistic presentations.

Our commitment to community involvement is evident in our collaboration with organizations such as America’s Promise Alliance (the nation’s largest partnership dedicated to improving the lives of young people), Children of Mine Youth Center, Inc. (a 501(c)(3) volunteer based after school program dedicated to providing a clean safe haven and loving environment for Washington, DC youth), and the Duke Ellington School of the Arts Alumni Association.

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3500 R Street NW
Washington D.C., DC
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