CityLab High School opens as newest Dallas ISD transformation campus

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The concept behind Dallas ISD’s new CityLab High School drew 100 eager freshmen to class on Monday, where they met teachers and staff just as excited to open the new campus.

Peter Goldstein, an architect and veteran Skyline High School teacher who is a co-founder of CityLab, said it was hard for him to find words to describe having students starting to attend classes there.

“This is thrilling, it’s exciting and I can’t tell you how gratifying it is to be part of the team that made this school happen,” he said. From the Dallas ISD Office of Innovation and Transformation, to support from higher education, the city, county and the professional community, he said, “This was really a true collaboration. The students – this is the piece we’ve been planning for.”

Goldstein developed the idea for the school with local architect Lorena Toffer, who excitedly attended the morning activities as well.

Laura Ray Borgini dropped off her son Saxton at CityLab on Monday morning. After completing the eighth grade at a private school, she said he wanted to go public for high school. CityLab fit the bill.

“We had heard about a new school that was going to focus on architecture,” Borgini said. “We went to the open house, met with the staff and we were all-in.”

CityLab’s curriculum will include a focus on architecture, urban planning and environmental science. Students will eventually choose one of those disciplines as a path of study. Lessons will use downtown Dallas as a life-size laboratory for students to study. The school’s location a few blocks from Dallas City Hall means many of the fieldwork will be within walking distance.

That type of format is perfect for Borgini’s son.

“He’s very creative,” she said. “There will be a lot of hands-on, they’ll be walking around, and that’s how he learns. It’s a great opportunity for him.”

Principal Tammy Underwood outlined the daily schedule for students. Each school day begins with breakfast, and a morning meeting to set the tone for the day. “Academically, we are ready for you,” she told students, noting that teachers had been working hard to ready the physical spaces as well.

A daily advisory period lets students meet with a staff member about projects and goals. “These will be the advisers you will work with until you walk the stage in 2021,” Underwood said. “That’s when I will be crying like a baby.” Monday’s advisory period was spent setting expectations and passing out planners students will be required to use.

Learn more about CityLab at the school’s website here.

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