This fall, neighborhood parents are expected to have more choice in public education.

That’s when Genesis Charter High School is scheduled to open, serving grades 7-12. The school founders are leasing space from St. Matthew’s Cathedral, 5100 Ross, to use as classrooms.

The founders are a group of approximately two dozen parents who have children in Dallas public schools. A majority of the parents are from our neighborhood.

The parents are concerned that children are not being challenged in existing public schools, says Anitra Patterson, a Forest Hills resident and social worker.

“We feel a lot of students are capable of a lot more than they’re expected to do,” Patterson says. “Some of the private school parents want public education, but they don’t think the schools will meet their children’s needs.”

Genesis begins accepting applications from students June 8 and will take the first 200 applicants on a first-come, first-serve basis. Each grade level will have about 40 students. Twelfth-graders are not expected to enroll the first year, Patterson says.

The Texas Board of Education recently issued the parents a charter to start their public high school. By law, any student in the state can apply to Genesis, and Genesis can’t implement a screening process to select students.

“We’re like a separate school district with open enrollment,” Patterson says. “We have no connection to DISD.”

Like any public school, Genesis will receive state funds based on the number of students it serves. The school also is applying for grants and is supported by the nonprofit corporation Genesis Schools, formed by the parents.

Four parents already are on the board – Patterson, David Molina, Bari Branson and Paulus Gan – and a fifth member will be added, Patterson says.

Patterson describes Genesis as “college prep” and says students will be required to complete a minimum of 40 hours of community service annually to graduate.

Genesis wants to maximize community participation and will seek out a multicultural student body, Patterson says.

Patterson says she hopes the school will keep families in our neighborhood who like living here, but who move to other areas because of educational concerns.

“Good schools are the basis of good communities,” she says. An informational meeting concerning Genesis will be held June 4 at Lakewood Library, 6121 Worth, from 6-7:30 p.m.

Call 757-5988 for more information.

Bryan Adams Choir to Perform in Carnegie Hall

The Bryan Adams High School a cappella choir has been invited to perform in New York City’s Carnegie Hall June 9. The choir will be in New York from June 5-10. Dana Harlow is the choir’s director.

Students who are participating include Sarah Byrd, Jessica Cawthon, Charlie Contreras, Fred Flores, Stephanie Garland, Christina Neubrand, Marcus Perkins, Jennifer Pipkin, Oscar Sanchez, Alison Scully, Melissa Smith, Nykethia Taylor, Brooks Thompson, Wendy Wilson and Joshua Wood. Each student raised $850 to help fund the trip.

The choir will perform under the direction and sing the songs of composer Rene Clausen of Concordia College in Minnesota, who was Harlow’s music instructor at West Texas State. The Bryan Adams students will perform with other selected high school and college choirs from around the country.

MidAmerica Productions coordinated this concert and coordinates concerts in Carnegie Hall throughout the late spring and summer each year. Last year, Booker T. Washington’s Arts Magnet choir performed and recommended Bryan Adams for the program.

Bryan Adams was selected after sending in an audition tape, Harlow says.

News & Notes:

LAKEWOOD RESIDENT WINS RACE TO REPLACE SANDY KRESS: Lakewood resident Roxan Staff won the three-person race last month for District 2 seat on the Dallas School Board. Staff replaces Sandy Kress, who was board president. Staff has a daughter at Woodrow Wilson High School and is a former teacher. She and her husband own American Bank.

Also last month, school trustee Kathleen Leos of District 8 was elected board vice president.

BRYAN ADAMS TEACHER AWARDED $1,000: Ruth Ann “Kelly” Fortner, an English and history teacher at Bryan Adams High School, is one of five finalists for the Dallas Public Schools Teacher of the Year competition. Fortner, who has been teaching for 31 years, received a $1,000 check from the school district at an ice cream social held last month at Union Station for the finalists. She is eligible for the top award, which includes an additional $5,000 and the Golden Apple Trophy. The winner will be named in September and will be entered in the Texas State Teacher of the Year contest.

WOODROW ROTC CADET HONORED FOR ACHIEVEMENTS: Cadet Norma Loya, a graduating senior of Woodrow Wilson High School, recently received the Daughters of the American Revolution’s ROTC Medal from the group’s Greater Dallas Chapter. ROTC medals are presented under the sponsorship of the National Defense Committee. The medals are given annually to senior student cadets who have demonstrated loyalty and patriotism and have compiled a record of military and scholastic achievement during their participation in an ROTC program. Lt. Col. James Hazen, Woodrow’s ROTC director, also was recognized.

LONG STUDENTS CASH IN ON WINNING ESSAYS: Three students from J.L. Long Middle School, under the guidance of history teacher Georginna Johnson, won cash awards last month in the Law Day Essay Competition. Jennifer Thompson and Elizabeth Horan both were first place winners, receiving $200 U.S. savings bonds. Keyle Cavalier was a second place winner, receiving a $50 U.S. savings bond. The essay topic was “The U.S. Constitution, the Original American Dream.”

DALLAS CAN! ANNOUNCES NEW BOARD MEMBERS: Dallas Can! Academy, 2601 Live Oak, recently announced the addition of 11 new board members. On the Board of Trustees are Jethro Pugh, former Dallas Cowboy and president of Gifts Inc.; community volunteer Frank Breedlove; Susan Cole, manager of Coopers & Lybrand; Joy Frederick, executive director of T.G.I. Friday’s restaurant; Rob Holmes, vice president of Texas Commerce Bank; Rev. S.M. Wright II, pastor of People’s Missionary Baptist Church. On the Advisory Board are Bruce Lanahan, regional account executive for TCI Media Services; attorney Lena Levario; Katie Pruett of KYNG radio; dentist Roy Washburn; and community volunteer Sheryl Wernick.

Dallas Can! is an alternative school that helps at-risk students obtain their GEDs and employment.

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