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"Love art in yourself, and not yourself in art."

- Constantin Stanislavski, My Life in Art


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.


To nurture and inspire passion for arts and learning in talented students who might not otherwise have an opportunity to develop their artistic skills. We ensure that our students are prepared for post-secondary education and/or careers in the arts by offering an intensive arts-based program. We prepare our students to become productive citizens in our global society through our strong focus on community service.