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'Two Schools, One Story': Dallas' Booker T. Washington High School prepares for centennial celebration

It was once the only high school for African Americans in Dallas. Now, world-renowned Booker T. Washington High School is planning to celebrate 100 years.

DALLAS — A high school in Dallas is preparing to recognize a major milestone.

Booker T. Washington High School is celebrating its centennial in March 2022. Administrators say preparations are already beginning.

Behind the walls of Booker T. Washington High School in Dallas, young artists are hard at work. That’s been the case for the Dallas Independent School District’s arts magnet for nearly 45 years.

The school’s unique history, however, dates back decades earlier. Booker T. Washington High School was built in 1922. The campus and community are planning to recognize its history in a big way.

“We’re truly excited that this is our 100th year anniversary at Booker T. Washington High School,” Principal Scott Rudes said.

Current school staff members are already initiating plans for major events to celebrate the school's 100 years of rich history in Dallas.

”We stand on the shoulders of giants, and we are revolutionaries,” Rudes explained.

When Booker T. Washington High School originally opened, it was the city’s only high school for African Americans.

Students were called the Booker T. Bulldogs. Among its alumni are baseball great Ernie “Mr. Cub” Banks and esteemed playwright Dr. Ted Shine.

“Students walked for miles to come to Booker T. just for the educational opportunities that it presented. So, from its very inception, Booker T. Washington High School has been a pioneer for students throughout the City of Dallas,” Rudes said.

Desegregation changed the dynamics at the school.

In 1976, Booker T. Washington High School became one of the first arts magnets in the country.

“It’s a landmark and it has given so much to so many people,” said Sharon Cornell.

As the campus prepares to celebrate its centennial, its overarching theme is "Two Schools, One Story."

“We have thousands of graduates from both incarnations of Booker T. Washington, that have gone on to impact the world in so many wonderful ways,” Rudes said.

The staff at the globally recognized school is collecting oral history from decades of graduates.

Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing and Visual Arts is preparing for its season opener. Students will perform the musical "Mamma Mia!" beginning Sept. 16.

The Texas Center for the Book officially designates the campus as a literary landmark December 1. A plaque will be installed in honor of former student and playwright Dr. Ted Shine.

The centennial celebrations culminate the second week of March 2022. The school will host its first arts and culture festival.

“We’re going to have a culminating event that’s going to celebrate our history as a school, through the lens of what we do best at Booker T. And that is through the arts,” Rudes said.

You can get updates on Booker T. Washington High School, the Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing and Visual Arts and plans for the centennial events by visiting https://www.dallasisd.org/bookert.