The All-Black and Latino School Where Every Kid Can Code
May 13, 2019
By: Emily Tate
It was Spirit Week at the Digital Pioneers Academy, and in fitting with the day’s “sports” theme, Mashea Ashton, the school’s founder and principal, had arrived wearing a red-and-white Devante Smith-Pelly jersey.
Ashton’s decision to don this particular jersey—that of a local celebrity, a Washington Capitals hockey player and Stanley Cup champion—was not made lightly, and she wanted her middle schoolers to know why.
“What does he have in common with you all?” Ashton asked students that morning. He’s black, some replied. He’s unusual, another suggested. (Smith-Pelly is one of about two-dozen black players in the National Hockey League.)
“No, it’s not that he’s black and he’s rare in hockey,” she explained. “It’s because he’s so good they can’t ignore him, and you all have to be so good that people can’t ignore you.”