Marking a transition from a traditional co-ed middle school to an all-girls STEAM academy, today district officials, elected representatives and parents joined with the staff and students of the Young Women’s STEAM Academy at Balch Springs for a naming ceremony.
In a program attended by Balch Springs’ current and former mayors and members of the Balch Springs City Council, speakers congratulated the school on its progress since opening last August to serve girls in grades six through eight. A sea of girls in white shirts and purple plaid skirts made up most of the audience, while their peers smiled and welcomed guests, handing out agendas and brochures and serving refreshments. A neighborhood school serving 1150 students at 710 Cheyenne Rd., the academy offers robotics, technology-integrated science courses and a strong emphasis on the creative arts.
In his remarks, Dallas ISD District 4 Trustee and attorney Jaime Resendez told students that he grew up in southeast Dallas and that after a term of military service he seized on education as a way to achieve a better life. He urged students to take full advantage of the school’s STEM curriculum, to read every day and to prepare themselves to accept roles in leadership. A fan of single-gender education, Resendez shared that his own daughter attends Solar Preparatory School for Girls.
Principal Clarita Rivera, who has led the campus since its opening as a co-ed school in 2012, praised parents, district leaders and community members for their support to reinvent the campus as a single-gender program. She thanked her colleague Dawn Walker, principal at the nearby Young Men’s Leadership Academy, for embracing the concept and providing a quality educational option for boys who until last year attended Balch Springs Middle School.
Addressing the students as future women leaders, Chief of School Leadership Stephanie Elizalde said the STEAM academy is a great idea that reflects the vision and tenacity of the community, educators and teachers who worked through obstacles to make it a reality. Encouraging students to seek excellence as a means to gain power and empower others, she said, “The more you learn, the more you earn,” and challenged students to pursue a future that will place them in a position to make a difference in their communities.
The event featured performances by the school choir and band and culminated in a ribbon-cutting and reception.