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DALLAS -- With a visit from the superintendent, the gleaming, sprawling new Billy Earl Dade Middle School in southeast Dallas opened Monday morning for the first time, wowing parents and students alike.

The multi-story school, located on Grand Avenue in South Dallas, has an expected enrollment of about 900 sixth-through-eighth graders.

Greeting students and parents, DISD Superintendent Mike Miles toured the school Monday morning.

"I think the teachers are ready," Miles said. "I think if you get the majority of them in a room and talk to them, they'll say they're ready to go. They're excited about this new school year."

Students are ready, too.

"It's very hard to find a school like this in a community like this; so it's really good for kids," said sixth grader Ariyah Evans.

But her mother contends what's not good for kids is the C&S Drive-In convenience store right across the street that sells alcohol.

"I do not like that at all," Katrina Evans said. "I do not appreciate it at all."

Generally, Dallas law prohibits establishments from peddling adult beverages within 300 feet of a school, but as property owner Joe Jackson points out, "The store has been operating since the 60's and by virtue of the Dallas law, it has been grandfathered in."

Troy Pough, stopping in for a noontime 24-ounce can of suds, agrees with that.

"Well, if the store was here first, then the store was here first," he said. "It doesn't make sense closing down a man's business. They have to make a living, too."

The landlord assures he is working with the city, and that he has invited Dallas police to park, patrol, or intervene here any time, and take whatever means necessary to fix something they don't like."

But Katrina Evans is still uneasy; worried that the business being done across the street from the school might not always stay across the street.

"Some adults can be coming back for a refill and already intoxicated and running into children, so that is not a good idea at all," she said.

E-mail jwheeler@wfaa.com

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