VIDEO: New $80M DISD Middle School Breaks Ground

Dallas ISD Superintendent Dr. Stephanie S. Elizalde speaks at the groundbreaking of the John Lewis Social Justice Academy | Image by Dr. Stephanie S. Elizalde/Twitter

After breaking ground in mid-May, the Dallas Independent School District’s project to erect a new middle school in East Oak Cliff is underway.

As of last week, 15% of the construction of the John Lewis Social Justice Academy on Kiest Boulevard is complete.

The Royal Electric Company posted a video showing some of the early work going into the project this week. Levi Garrett, project manager, and Will Harmeling, project engineer, explained how crews were working on digging out the underground duct banks and mapping out trenches for conduit runs.

The new school will replace Oliver Wendell Holmes, a school for 8th and 9th graders, who will later attend Roosevelt High School. The new campus should open its doors by the summer of 2025, and many hope it will usher in a period of renewal for the community.

“We came with a vision and we leave with a plan that looks brighter than ever,” said student council class president Kayla McGee during the groundbreaking event, per Fox 4 KDFW.

“The new building is more than just a structure, it represents hope, progress, and unwavering commitment to education and the justice that defines our community.”

As previously covered in The Dallas Express, the decision to name the state-of-the-art academy at O.W. Holmes after the civil rights activist and congressman John Lewis was to honor his legacy and advocate for community renewal.

“When we think about social justice, we think about John Lewis and all the things that he went through along with all the other civil rights leaders in this country. I can’t think of a better person to have this school named after,” said State Sen. Royce West (D-Dallas) at the ceremony last month, per Fox 4.

The Dallas Express has featured O.W. Holmes before in its Bad Apple series, which highlights school board trustees with campuses logging a Student Achievement Score of 69 or below.

O.W. Holmes was one of 15 schools in Dallas ISD Trustee Maxie Johnson’s district that earned below 70 out of 100 on its campus student achievement scores, based on the Texas Education Agency’s accountability reports for the 2021-2022 school year.

That school year, O.W. Holmes was “not rated” due to having a Student Achievement Score of 57. Just 23% of students scored at grade level on that year’s STAAR exams, which was short of the district’s lackluster average of 41% across all campuses.

Of the 599 students enrolled that year, 100% were said to be “economically disadvantaged,” and 25.4% were emergent bilingual. Just 1% of the student body was estimated as being white, while black students represented the majority at 56.8%.

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