The history of Eastern Senior High School dates back to the year 1890 when the District of Columbia outgrew its only white secondary school. Three branch schools were organized as a result of the overpopulation. One of the branch schools was the Capitol High School, located at Fifth and C Streets, N.E., in what is now Peabody Elementary School. Later the name was changed to Eastern High School because of its location in the eastern section of the city.
In the fall of 1892, the school moved to a new building located at Seventh and C Streets S.E. That building was torn down to make way for the new Hine Junior High School. Eastern’s enrollment continued to increase, and in March 1923 when the school moved to its present site at Seventeenth and East Capitol Streets, the enrollment had grown to over 1,000 students.
During the Depression years, Eastern reached a peak enrollment of more than 3,330 students and for several years, the school operated on a double shift. After World War II, the enrollment declined due mainly to shifts in demographics. From 1952 through 1962, Eastern became a Junior-Senior High School, when students from Eliot Junior High moved into the building. Since the 1954 Supreme Court ruling on school desegregation, Eastern has welcomed members of all races to its student body and faculty.
A flagpole memorial along East Capitol Street now honors the Eastern alumni who lost their lives in the Spanish-American War and World War.
In 1964, Mr. Madison W. Tignor became the first African American principal to serve at Eastern. Mr. Ralph Neal was our longest serving Eastern principal who led Eastern from 1984 to 1997 and is remembered fondly by our Eastern alumni.
Mr. William Chiselom became principal of Eastern in the fall of 2008. Prior to his tenure, Eastern was led by eleven principals in ten years and had experienced difficult times. Principal Chiselom began the turnaround of Eastern Senior High School, overseeing an impressive $77 million renovation to the campus. He presided over the graduation of the class of 2011, the last class to graduate until the class of 2015 walked up the honored marble staircase two years ago.
Points of Pride
Eastern has a rich musical legacy. The band, the Blue and White Marching Machine, has marched in three Presidential inaugurations. Additionally, the Eastern choir has many impressive achievements including placing second in a worldwide competition held in Vienna, Austria and singing with the legendary Aretha Franklin.
Academically, Eastern has boasted foreign exchange programs, award-winning student publications, and strong programs in both health and law career exploration.
Further, the Eastern Ramblers have excelled in athletics over the years. In 1975, the Rambler boys’ basketball team won the DCIAA Championship. In 1981, the Ramblers were ranked 6th nationally in football. In 2010 and 2011, the Rambler boys’ basketball team reached the DCPS championship basketball game.