WASHINGTON – This is the college acceptance season — frequently a nervous time for high school seniors. But D.C.’s Avery Coffey can relax. He applied to five Ivy League universities and all five accepted him.
Coffey attends Benjamin Banneker Academic High School, a D.C. public school with strict rules. None of the 439 students at Banneker is allowed to bring a cell phone into the building. They are also not allowed to go to their lockers during the school day. (That has spawned the peculiar tradition of piling up textbooks at the base of lockers, so kids can switch books between classes without violating the locker rule.)
The strict rules at Banneker have fostered a rather serious academic environment. Principal Anita Berger says year after year after year, 100 percent of Banneker graduates are accepted into post-secondary institutions. Among these brainy and motivated public school students is 17-year-old Coffey who, like a lot of kids, enjoys sports. What does he play?
“Baseball, basketball, tennis, soccer,” Coffey told us.
He also enjoys academics, and he has a 4.3 high school report card average, adjusted for the demanding International Baccalaureate courses he takes. Coffey scored very high on standardized tests also. He calls himself a “determined” student.
Coffey applied to five Ivy League universities, and, amazingly, has been accepted at all of them: Harvard, Princeton, Yale, the University of Pennsylvania, and Brown. And four of the five universities have already offered very generous financial aid packages. (Harvard is still formulating its offer.)
Avery Coffey wants to major in finance. What’s the perfect job?
“I guess probably the CEO of an investment (or management consulting) firm. I guess pretty much overseeing acquisitions or transactions between large companies. Hopefully, Fortune 500 companies,” Coffey told us with a grin.
Coffey grew up in a single-parent household in D.C.’s Ward 8, the poorest part of the city. His mom works as a technician at Children’s Hospital.
Avery’s advice to younger kids?
“You can go anywhere you want to, pursue any career that you want to, and you shouldn’t let anybody hinder you from trying to reach your goals,” he said.
Coffee hasn’t yet made up his mind as to which college to attend. But he says he’s leaning toward Penn or Harvard.