West Dallas Community School

Monthly Archives: October 2015

Pointing the Way to a Different Future

by wdcs

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College pennants currently adorn the lobby of West Dallas Community School.  We have designated the month of October as a time to purposefully inform our students’ aspirations, to encourage them that college can be a part of their “future story.”  Moreover, the colorful display of 20+ pennants (representing schools from which our graduates have earned degrees or are currently attending) recognizes the hard work of former students and their achievements; it honors both our graduates and their families. Why is this worth noting?

Well, for a community where roughly 1/3 of the adults have neither a high school diploma nor a GED, the statistics are bleak. DISD is one of the poorest districts in the state and the zip code we primarily serve, 75212, is disproportionately represented in the penal system, as critiqued in this School-to-Prison Pipeline study. Reports indicate that a meager 10% of Pinkston graduates are deemed “college ready.”  What are the implications?  A recent study exploring disconnected youth (people between the ages of 15 and 24 who are neither in school nor working) ranked West Dallas as one of the most economically disconnected neighborhoods in DFW with a 34.4% of youth disconnection. By most measures, it appears that the achievement gap in schools is widening and the deep historical inequalities in our country persist unabated.

In the face of these statistics, the pennants tell a different story and serve as a proud reminder of what our former students have accomplished. You can hear comments like these in our lobby: “My brother attends that one, St. Edwards” or “That’s my daughter’s pennant.  She’s at St. Louis University” or “Baylor – that’s my cousin’s school” or “How great to see my niece’s hard work honored in this way.” We are proud of our graduates. Last week I texted one of our alumni who is finishing up his degree in accounting; he got a kick out of seeing a picture of his college pennant hanging in our lobby. We are also proud of the families who sacrificed for their children’s education, whether that was the tuition monies invested here, or in high school, or in college, on in the other myriad ways families support these students. The pennants honor the family as well.

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Think of the pennants as a symbol, there to both fuel inspiration and to focus aspiration. The pennants are a signpost, pointing the way to a different future. 96% of our graduates have earned their high school diploma and 76% have graduated or are currently enrolled in college. In a way, the pennants speak a message – they proclaim, “Others have done this and you can too. Keep going!”

But beyond pennants and pep talks, it is our remarkable faculty and challenging educational program that is preparing our students for future academic success. And with a recent generous gift to WDCS, we now have designated funds for a “Road to College” program that has included, among other things: SAT/ACT prep for our graduates; parent informational seminars; test prep for 8th graders seeking entrance to area private schools; and a unique student program for middle school students composed of important college and career knowledge.

Everyone seems to enjoy the pennants and the buzz they have created on campus. As important as this symbolism is, the décor is temporary, and the pennants will come down at the end of the month until next year. Why? The answer in and of itself deserves a blog of it’s own. Next month I will delve ever more deeply into our philosophy of educating students holistically and look at what markers we believe truly define a child’s success — namely that college, while a worthy endeavor, may not be the pinnacle nor ultimately define the kind of success the Lord has in mind for WDCS students.

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Bentley Craft
Head of School