Students prepare for FWISD's first all-boys school



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Posted on August 15, 2012 at 7:21 PM

Updated Wednesday, Aug 15 at 8:48 PM

FORT WORTH -- Students stand and shout in unison on the last day of camp at FWISD's first all-boys school, "We are the pride of Nelson Mandela!"

Students at the new Paul Laurence Dunbar Young Men’s Leadership Academy (YMLA) are divided into four "prides."

The other prides chose the school's namesake, Paul Laurence Dunbar, Albert Einstein, and Chiune Sugihara, a Japanese diplomat who saved European Jews during World War II.

Fort Worth ISD's all boys college prep academy at the former Dunbar Middle School is all about pride.

"We expect them to learn, and they are entitled to achieve," said Rodney White, the 36-year-old principal. "That's our motto for the school year."

Students made banners for the colleges they want to attend. Among them, Yale, Harvard, TCU, and Kentucky.

The school is based on Fort Worth's Young Women's Leadership Academy. About to start its fourth year, that school is rated exemplary.

The principal launching the YMLA expects nothing less.

"We want to change the mindset of our young men," White said. "Give them a place where they can belong and know there's a pristine focus for college awareness. And getting to that goal."

Although the academy is for sixth and seventh grades now, it will add a grade each year until it's sixth through 12. The first graduating class is 2018.

On Wednesday, they practiced knotting ties. It's part of the uniform. They'll study Latin and engineering, and learn to lead.

The school, which draws from all over the district, is predominantly African American, with about 25 percent Hispanic, and 5 percent Anglo. But they learn to address each other as "brother," and shake hands.

"We're a family here," one sixth grader said.