- The Washington Times - Thursday, January 27, 2005

D.C. Council member Marion Barry yesterday taught students at Ballou High School about solutions — some relating to chemistry, some relating to life.

“Education is my thing,” Mr. Barry, wearing a white lab coat, told a class of about 15 students. “I’m determined about it because I know how hard it is.”

Mr. Barry, who holds a master’s degree in organic chemistry from Fisk University in Nashville, Tenn., was a guest instructor in teacher William Corley’s morning chemistry class.

The Ward 8 Democrat taught a lesson about chemical compounds and electrical conductivity, while stressing the importance of education and hard work.

“I never made a C in my life, not because I’m smart, but because I worked hard,” he said. “Be serious about your education, because it’s tough out here.”

He also offered several life lessons, warning about the dangers of drugs and unprotected sex and encouraging the students to overcome adversity.

“I’ve been knocked down a couple times, and I got back up,” said Mr. Barry, who as D.C. mayor in 1990 was videotaped smoking crack cocaine during an FBI sting. “I’m still standing.”

Mr. Barry, 68, won the Ward 8 council seat last year after a six-year absence from elected office.

Yesterday, two chemistry students performed experiments to test the electrical conductivity of several substances while Mr. Barry looked on. Most students said they appreciated his visit.

“It’s always good when you succeed to come back and give to your community and let them know they can be successful too,” said Jachin Leatherman, 17, a junior.

“I learned a lot, and it was fun,” said Diara Smallwood, 15, a sophomore. “He showed us the paths in life and how it’s gonna be.”

Mr. Barry visited Ballou with Superintendent Clifford B. Janey, who served as the school’s guest principal yesterday. Mr. Janey is spending one day each month as principal of a city school to assess what improvements can be made at the grass-roots level.

The superintendent said Mr. Barry’s visit shows his commitment to Ward 8.

“It’s one thing to visit a school; it’s another thing to teach a class,” Mr. Janey said. “Mr. Barry is setting a high standard.”

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