Students, parents, staff and district officials dedicated the new Solar Preparatory for Boys at John F. Kennedy Learning Center on Tuesday, Oct. 23.
This year brings a new program to the school, which transforms the campus from a comprehensive, coed elementary school to an all-male elementary that incorporates elements of leadership training into the curriculum. Much like its sister school, Solar Preparatory for Girls, which opened in 2016, the school’s open enrollment is balanced to provide ethnic and socioeconomic diversity. Also like the girls school, Solar Prep for Boys has opened with grades pre-K through second.
Principal Adriana Gonzalez thanked those who had helped launch the school, including Solar Prep for Girls Principal Nancy Bernardino and her staff.
District 8 Trustee Miguel Solis pointed to President John F. Kennedy, for whom the campus is originally named, to illustrate one of the main goals of Solar Prep for Boys.
In a 1963 speech at Rice University, President Kennedy said it was crucial for America to send a man to the moon before the end of that decade.
“He had the vision to think something boldly,” Solis said. “That would be dangerous, that would be filled with challenges, was not promised. But he thought that through innovation, grit and determination, despite those challenges, that the moonshot, and landing some on the moon, was possible.”
Likewise, a school like Solar Prep for Boys can work to combat segregation, especially by socioeconomic and racial factors.
“This campus brings students from all walks of life into a nurturing environment that allows kids to see themselves for who they are: kids,” Solis said. They won’t see their differences, he said, and represents the district’s “moonshot.”
The challenges will be great, he said. “But we will overcome them, we will overcome them together. And our boys, these future leaders, will be shining examples of what Dallas can be and what Dallas should be.”
Brian Lusk, Dallas ISD Chief of Strategic Initiatives, said the vision started with Principal Gonzalez, and that she did excellent work at her previous campus, L.K. Hall Elementary School. He said district officials know the single-gender leadership model works; notably he talked about his part in transitioning Fred F. Florence Middle School into a Male Leadership Academy.
Assistant Principal Derek Thomas talked about how the school will provide a solid foundation to create leaders as the students grow and continue to learn.