Dan D. Rogers Elementary School students play at the new Cool Schools park. (Photo by Jaime Dunaway.)

The academic year may be coming to a close, but that won’t stop students from coming to school this summer to play on a new public park at Dan D. Rogers Elementary.

The “Cool Schools” park, which opened Monday at 5314 Abrams Road, includes a 7,000-square-foot-playground, a concrete sports slab, a paved walking path, park benches and a special “Wishing Tree.”

Students’ favorite feature is the man-made hill with a slide at the top, fifth-grader Caden Martinez said. During recess, they race to the top or play “King of the Hill,” in which students try to be the last person standing as players attempt to knock each other to the ground.

“We know nature gives us an opportunity to think creatively through playing games,” principal Lisa Lovato said. “They’re stretching their thinking in these new spaces.”

Dan D. Rogers received a grant from the Texas Trees Foundation to build the park on the outdoor space next to the school. The recreation area was previously off limits to the public.

S.S. Conner, Tom C. Gooch, Boude Storey and C.A. Tatum Jr. have similar Cool Schools parks.

The organization hopes to eventually build parks at all 151 Dallas ISD schools and provide park access to neighbors living in a park desert, which means there is no park within a 10-minute walk.

“It’s been amazing to see the transformation of this park,” said Robert Abtahi, Dallas Park and Recreation Board president. “Great cities have great parks, and great parks have great playgrounds.”

Parks are some of the hottest places in the city, according to a Texas Trees study. More than 90 tree saplings at Dan D. Rogers will increase canopy coverage and provide shade that will encourage students to get outdoors during the hot summer months.

“The more trees we have, the more they’ll clean the air,” Martinez said. “We need to keep it clean for future generations.”

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