Category Archives: Grand Prairie

SGPHS to Hold JROTC Change of Command Ceremony on Wednesday

The Change of Command for the South Grand Prairie High School Junior ROTC program will be Wednesday, April 27, 2022, at 9:30 a.m.  The Ceremony will take place on the football field at South Grand Prairie High School. Cadet Lieutenant Colonel Jazmin Lemus will relinquish command to Cadet Lieutenant Colonel April Zuniga. The Change of Command is a military tradition emulated at the JROTC level. It represents the transfer of responsibility and cadet authority for the battalion. In the life of a JROTC cadet, it embodies the history, tradition, and accomplishments of that command. The passing of responsibility represents a continuation of trust and genuine allegiance, from outgoing leader to incoming leader, of the South Grand Prairie High School JROTC program.

  • WHO: South Grand Prairie Warrior Battalion
  • WHAT: Change of Command ceremony
  • WHEN: Wednesday, April 27 at 9:30 a.m.
  • WHERE: South Grand Prairie High School Football Field (behind the Dr. Vern Alexander Building located at 305 W. Warrior Trail, GP, 75052)

For more information, visit https://www.gpisd.org/southgphigh.

Grand Prairie Mayor Hosts Grand Peninsula Bicycle Ride

Mayor Ron Jensen invites the community to join him for the Cyclin’ with the Mayor Grand Peninsula ride on Thursday, April 21. Participants are asked to meet at 6 p.m. at Daulton Elementary School, 2607 N. Grand Peninsula Dr. The ride will begin at 6:30 p.m.

Cyclin’ with the Mayor is a series of monthly bike rides that are part of the Get Fit GP initiative. Each ride is estimated to be a distance of about five to six miles and is set at a leisurely pace. Participants must bring a bike to participate. Updated location information for all the upcoming rides is posted on www.gptx.org/GetFitGP.

The Get Fit GP initiative offers local resources to improve health through physical fitness and healthy food options for Grand Prairie citizens.

For more information, call 972-237-7594.

VIA Grand Prairie – Let’s Ride!

On April 12, 2022, the city of Grand Prairie will launch Via Grand Prairie, a new on-demand, shared public transportation service for $3 a ride. A minibus comes when you want and takes you where you want. To book a ride, riders can use the Via Grand Prairie mobile app or call 214-253-0874.  Once a ride is entered with pickup and drop-off locations, the system will provide ride options. Once an option is selected, riders are directed to a nearby “virtual bus stop” within a short walking distance, and a driver is dispatched to meet them at that location.

The goal of Via Grand Prairie is to use technology to expand access to convenient, affordable, and sustainable transportation for residents and visitors to Grand Prairie. The service will be powered by Via, the global leader in TransitTech. Via’s advanced algorithms create quick, efficient shared trips that provide more flexibility for riders than traditional public transportation options with fixed routes and schedules.

“The city is thrilled to be able to offer this rideshare, low-cost transportation option to residents, students, workers, and visitors,” said Mayor Ron Jensen. “For a very reasonable cost, now you can get from here to there when you want.  Decades ago, voters elected to use the penny that could’ve gone to DART, for other purposes, which is how the city has built Lone Star Park, The Summit, The Epic, EpicWaters, EpicCentral, and the Public Safety Building; established continual park and street improvements; and more.  Via Grand Prairie helps fill that need for transportation for people who may not have a car, may not drive, or just want to leave the driving to someone else.” 

Via Grand Prairie represents the forefront of innovative mobility in Texas, and we are proud to partner with the city to use Via’s software to expand convenient and equitable access to public transit for residents,” said Dillon Twombly, Chief Revenue Officer at Via. “Services like Via Grand Prairie create new opportunities to generate positive social, environmental, and economic impact, and we look forward to seeing how residents will use the service in their daily lives.”

Via Grand Prairie is a shared-ride service, so other passengers may be picked up and dropped off along the way. To keep things running quickly and smoothly for everyone, riders will be asked to meet the van at a nearby corner (or “virtual bus stop”) instead of exactly at the address entered — that way, the driver can get everyone to their destination without making any detours.

Via Grand Prairie operates Monday-Saturday, 6 a.m. – 9 p.m.  For $3 per one-way trip, Via Grand Prairie will pick you up in Grand Prairie and take you to your destination in Grand Prairie.  Add additional passengers for just $1.  Seniors (65+) ride for $2 per trip, unless they are registered with the city’s Grand Connection transportation system, then is it $1 per trip.  Wheelchair-accessible vehicles are available.

Via Grand Prairie will also serve four nearby college campuses (two of which are a $4 trip due to the longer distance):

  • Tarrant County Community College: $3/trip
  • University of Texas at Arlington: $3/trip
  • Dallas Baptist University: $4/trip
  • Mountain View Community College: $4/trip

Riders can book an on-demand ride by app, or by phone. 

When setting up an account, riders can add a credit/debit card. When a ride is booked, the rider can choose whether to pay using the card on file or with exact cash on board. Please note that drivers do not have change. Credit cards are charged after completing a ride.

Via Grand Prairie will serve as a complement to the city’s existing Grand Connection bus service, which is specifically for elderly and disabled residents.

How to Ride with Via Grand Prairie

Follow these steps to get on board:

  1. Create an Account: Download the Via Grand Prairie app from the App Store or Google Play Store and follow the signup steps. 
  1. Book a Ride: Enter pickup and drop-off addresses. If you’re ready to go right away, tap Book This Ride.  If you want to schedule a ride in advance, hit the Schedule button and choose the day/time you want to travel.  You can also book rides by calling 214-253-0874.
  1. Meet your Driver: We’ll assign you a “virtual bus stop” —a pickup spot nearby that helps us avoid detours. Check the app to find out exactly where it is. It may be a short walk from the address you gave us.  Meet your driver.  We’ll give you an ETA for your driver — you can follow along in real-time in the app so you know when to meet the vehicle outside.

Grand Prairie Kurt Johnson District 6 Town Hall Meeting

Johnson (Photo courtesy of the City of Grand Prairie)

Councilmember Kurt Johnson invites residents to attend a District 6 Town Hall Meeting, Thursday, April 14, 6-8 p.m. at Betty Warmack Branch Library, 760 Bardin Road. 

City departments providing updates at the meeting include Police, Fire, Economic Development, Public Works, Transportation, Code Compliance, and Parks, Arts and Recreation. Mayor Ron Jensen will give an update about the EpicCentral project, homestead exemptions, and the city’s new cricket stadium

Strollin’ with Grand Prairie Mayor Ron Jensen

Mayor Ron Jensen invites the community to join him for a 2-mile stroll through Grand Prairie’s Mira Lagos neighborhood on Saturday, March 19.  Participants are asked to meet at Lillard Intermediate School, 1301 Day Miar Road at 9 a.m.

Strollin’ with the Mayor is part of the Get Fit GP initiative which offers local resources to improve health through physical fitness and healthy food options for Grand Prairie citizens. Updated information for all upcoming Get Fit GP events is posted at www.gptx.org/GetFitGP.

For more information, call 972-237-7594.

Math Success and Mentorship Equal a $25,000 Milken Educator Award for Teacher Emily Dickerson

Dickerson (Photo courtesy of GPISD)

At Grand Prairie High School in Grand Prairie, Texas, Emily Dickerson’s ninth-graders know that math is a lifetime skill. That’s because her creative lessons encourage students to explore how math fits into the world around them, incorporating current events in new ways to engage and challenge young minds. Today following an all-school pep rally, Dickerson was surprised with a national Milken Educator Award for her indelible impact on students and colleagues alike. The recognition includes a $25,000 cash prize that she can use however she chooses.

Milken Educator Awards Founder Lowell Milken was joined by Texas Education Commissioner Mike Morath to present Dickerson with the prestigious honor before cheering students, appreciative colleagues, state and local dignitaries, and media. In addition to today’s fanfare, Dickerson will join a national network of more than 2,800 Milken Educator Award recipients dedicated to strengthening K-12 education.

Dickerson is among more than 60 educators across the country who will receive the Award during the 2021-22 season. She is the first recipient from Grand Prairie Independent School District.

“Emily Dickerson instills a passion for learning in her students that will influence their pursuit of excellence long after graduation,” said Lowell Milken. “Her effectiveness in the classroom, combined with her instructional leadership at large, make her a force in the community and a model for the state and nation.”

Extending beyond the classroom, Dickerson’s spirit of mentorship led her to serve as a TAP System for Teacher and Student Achievement mentor teacher through Grand Prairie’s partnership with the National Institute for Excellence in Teaching (NIET). Her work helps support student success schoolwide through her role as math department chair and involvement with initiatives like AVID (Advancement Via Individual Determination) that build college readiness and increase inclusive opportunities for all students.

“Emily Dickerson reflects the very best of the teaching profession in Texas,” said Commissioner Morath. “By holding her algebra students to the highest of standards, her diligent work and dedication benefits the Grand Prairie High community today while strengthening the Texas of tomorrow.”

Hailed as the “Oscars of Teaching,” Milken Educator Awards inspire and uplift with the unique stories of educators making a profound difference for students, colleagues, and communities. The Awards are not designated for lifetime achievement. Recipients are heralded while early to mid-career for what they have achieved — and for the promise of what they will accomplish given the resources and opportunities inherent in the Award.

More About Emily Dickerson

In the Classroom: Dickerson fosters curiosity, critical thinking skills, and a growth mindset through real-world applications of math. Her algebra students explore exponential functions by studying transmission patterns of COVID-19. When she taught geometry, her students learned to find the midpoint between two points on a coordinate plane by looking at a map of Grand Prairie and calculating the center between the two closest grocery stores. The lesson continued beyond math as the class discussed the concept of “food deserts” and how they might use their findings to advocate to city officials for the construction of a community garden or grocery store. Dickerson’s classroom mantra is “Be the change,” encouraging students to make choices each day that will have a positive impact on not only their own futures but the lives of those around them.

New Data-Driven Strategies: Dickerson creates an inclusive and respectful environment where student data informs every instructional decision. She is never afraid to try new approaches, adjusting as she discerns student needs. Hoping to improve student performance, Dickerson instituted small group instruction in Algebra I several years ago. By the end of the 2019-20 school year, students were showing tremendous growth, and Dickerson introduced the strategy to the rest of her team.

School and District Leadership: Dickerson works with student teachers, mentors new educators, serves on the district math leadership team and leads professional development for the building and district. As math department chair, Dickerson turns department meetings into an extension of her classroom, building in activities she hopes colleagues will use with their own classes. During the pandemic, she modeled the use of breakout rooms to raise teachers’ comfort levels with virtual instruction and shared strategies for building relationships during online learning.

College and Career Readiness: Dickerson is on the Grand Prairie High School site team for AVID (Advancement Via Individual Determination), a program that helps build college readiness and increase opportunities for historically underrepresented student communities. To raise the program’s profile and expand the impact of its college-going culture across the campus, Dickerson and colleagues created the “My AVID Is Your AVID” buddy system, encouraging 11th graders in AVID to share learning strategies with their peers.

Educational Equity: Equity is an important focus of Dickerson’s practice. She is part of the committee that advocates for culturally relevant teaching, tackling issues on how to deliver instruction to the school’s diverse student body. Dickerson partnered with the National Alliance for Partnerships in Equity to learn about equitable access to STEM opportunities.

Education: Dickerson earned a bachelor’s in business in 2013 from Baylor University and a master’s in school leadership in 2020 from Southern Methodist University.

More About the Milken Educator Awards: 

“The future belongs to the educated.”

Along with the financial prize, Milken Educator Award recipients join the national Milken Educator Network, a group of more than 2,800 top teachers, principals, and specialists. The network serves as a rich resource for fellow educators, legislators, school boards, and others dedicated to excellence in education.

The honorees will also attend an all-expenses-paid Milken Educator Awards Forum, where they will network with their new colleagues as well as veteran Milken Educators and other education leaders about how to increase their impact on K-12 education. In addition, they will learn about how to become involved in the Milken Friends Forever (MFFs) mentoring program, in which freshman Milken Educators receive personalized coaching and support from a Milken Educator veteran on ways to elevate their instructional practice and take an active role in educational leadership, policy and practice.

Over the years, more than $140 million in funding, including $70 million for the individual cash awards, has been devoted to the overall Milken Awards initiative, which includes powerful professional development opportunities throughout recipients’ careers. 

Veteran Milken Educators frequently go on to serve in leadership roles at the state, national and international levels. 

“We find you. You don’t find us!” Unlike most teacher recognition programs, the Milken Educator Awards initiative has no formal nomination or application process. Candidates are sourced through a confidential selection process and then reviewed by blue ribbon panels in each state. The most exceptional candidates are recommended for the award, with the final selection made by the Milken Family Foundation. 

The $25,000 cash award is unrestricted. Recipients have used the money in diverse ways. For instance, some have spent the funds on their children’s or their own continuing education, financing dream field trips, establishing scholarships, and even adopting children.  

Oprah, a longtime education advocate, shared her congratulations to this year’s recipients in a video message thanking “the most incredible educators around the country” and acknowledging her deep appreciation for the “tireless work” they do.

To get regular updates on the surprise Milken Educator Award events or to watch the award events unfold, follow and use the #MilkenAward hashtag on Facebook (@MilkenEducatorAwards), Twitter (@Milken), YouTube (/MilkenAward), Instagram (MilkenFamilyFdn), and TikTok (@MilkenAward).

For more information, visit MilkenEducatorAwards.org or call the Milken Family Foundation at (310) 570-4772.

GiGi’s 24 Hour Run for Inclusive Play at Playground Adventures

A passionate donor of PlayGrand Adventures, as well as a local Rotarian, will run for 24 hours beginning this Friday, March 4 at 6 p.m. in an effort to bring awareness to PlayGrand Adventures at EpicCentral and how it creates opportunities for everyone to play, to grow, and to connect… all together!

Who is Gigi?

Abigail, nicknamed Gigi, was born at 3 a.m. on March 9, 2005. Her father was out of town and got the first call at about 2 a.m. telling him that his wife, Vickey, was having a miscarriage at just 23 weeks into her pregnancy. When Vickey arrived at the hospital, the doctors examined her and discovered two things: Gigi was still alive, albeit barely, and time was of the essence. Vickey had a placental abruption where the placenta separates from the uterine wall. She was hemorrhaging and Gigi was not getting any oxygen. After an emergency c-section, the doctors resuscitated their little girl and got her heart beating again and breathing again with the help of a respirator.

Baby Abigail weighed in at 1lb 7oz and was 11 inches long. Her dad’s wedding ring could go all the way to her elbow. For the next four months, Gigi would fight for her life. Today, Gigi is just days away from celebrating her 17th birthday but also battles with the many challenges of Cerebral Palsy which she was diagnosed with in 2007. Benefiting greatly from inclusive and adaptive opportunities like PlayGrand Adventures, Gigi and her family, who are also close friends with the runner, are honored to have this inaugural event named after her and to help raise awareness for a life-changing playground project like this.

Can I run? How can I support?

The runner says, “I’m running for those that can’t so that they can get out and play more!”  You can show your support for this mission and for the playground project by making a tax-deductible donation.

This inaugural run isn’t about signing up, getting a t-shirt, and a medal. This is simply to raise awareness and funds to expand PlayGrand Adventures to ultimately serve more people like Gigi. That said, some people want to come out and support with their feet. So, while this is not an organized race whatsoever, we do welcome you to make your way to PlayGrand Adventures and join the runner for a lap or more. We ask that you complete an online form below so that we can look out for you and welcome you when you arrive. Don’t forget to bring your own water and snacks as there will be nothing provided.

About PlayGrand Adventures & PlayGrand Adventures Foundation

PlayGrand Adventures provides a safe and fun playground experience of epic proportions for all ages and abilities. The playground includes adventure areas that are designed to stimulate, challenge, and encourage the development of several skill sets while providing social interaction, a sense of discovery, creativity, and exercise. The playground is part of a much larger overall park project which includes The Epic, a state-of-the-art recreation center, Epic Waters indoor/outdoor water park, trail systems, The Summit 50+ Club, and amphitheater at EpicCentral in Grand Prairie, Texas. 

Currently under construction are two connecting hotels, a convention center, six restaurant spaces, parking garages, a water/light show on the lake, and an indoor adventure park. PlayGrand Adventures Foundation is a 501(c)(3) public charity with a goal of promoting the playground and raising the funds necessary to complete the construction of the full 10-acre development as well as for the ongoing maintenance.

More information about this event, the playground, and the foundation at PlayGrandAdventures.com.

Grand Prairie Economic Development Welcomes Kay Brown-Patrick to Business Manager Role

The City of Grand Prairie recently welcomed Kay Brown-Patrick as Business Manager for Retail Attraction, Business Retention, and Enterprise Development. Brown-Patrick moved to the City of Grand Prairie Economic Development Department after serving as Business Development Administrator for the City of Denton where she developed, implemented, and managed the city’s Business Retention and Expansion plan and programming. She has also served in various economic development roles for the cities of Waxahachie, Irving, and Bedford and as Community Programs Coordinator for the City of Lancaster.

“We are impressed with Kay’s experience in business retention and expansion,” Marty Wieder, City of Grand Prairie Economic Development Director said. “She has also worked with the Governor’s Office to pursue and land Special Events Trust Fund monies for big sports events like the International Cricket Council’s 2024 ICC T-20 World Cup that has been awarded to the West Indies and the United States. The City of Grand Prairie is glad to have her on board as we work hard to keep the excellent businesses we already have here and pursue new development opportunities.”

Brown-Patrick has a Master of Public Administration degree from the University of North Texas and completed the Oklahoma University Economic Development Institute in 2019. She is a member of the International Economic Development Council, Texas Economic Development Council, Texas Municipal League, and National Forum for Black Public Administrators.

GPISD to Honor the Legacy of Christine Blubaugh, Impact of SB 9

In March 2000, Christine Blubaugh was murdered by her ex-boyfriend. At the time, she was a junior at South Grand Prairie High School, a member of the tennis team and the orchestra. Christine’s untimely death shocked the campus, the school district, and the Grand Prairie community. How could this happen? What could have been done to prevent her death?

Fast forward 21 years and Senate Bill 9 is signed into law by Governor Greg Abbott in September. SB 9, or the “Christine Blubaugh Act” – went into effect December 2. The Act requires “public schools to provide instruction and materials and adopt policies relating to the prevention of child abuse, family violence, and dating violence.”

The passage of the bill was the result of the persistence of a dedicated team including the Blubaugh family, GPPD Assistant Chief Ronnie Morris, and State Senator Royce West. Young people across the state will now have the opportunity to educate and empower themselves about this preventable issue.

To honor Christine’s legacy and the far-reaching impact of SB 9, GPISD and the Grand Prairie Police Department will host a ceremony at South Grand Prairie High School on Monday, February 14, at 10 a.m.

  • WHAT: Ceremony to honor the legacy of Christine Blubaugh (the inspiration for SB 9)
  • WHEN: Monday, February 14, 2022, at 10:00 a.m.
  • WHERE: South Grand Prairie High School (main entrance), 301 W. Warrior Trail

Please contact Sam Buchmeyer, GPISD Public Information Officer, at (972) 237-5380 if you have questions or need any additional information.

GPISD to Conduct Public Hearing on TAPR Report

The Grand Prairie Independent School District Board of Trustees will conduct a public hearing to discuss the 2020-2021 Texas Academic Performance Report (TAPR) as part of its regular meeting on Thursday, February 17, 2022, at 7:00 p.m. 

The TAPR report is published annually by the Texas Education Agency.  The report includes student performance and profile information concerning students, finances, and staffing.

The hearing will be held in the Board Room at the Dr. Susan J. Simpson Education Center located at 2602 S. Belt Line Road in Grand Prairie.

WHAT: Public hearing to review the 2020-2021 Texas Academic Performance Report (TAPR)

WHEN: Thursday, February 17, 2022 at 7:00 p.m.

WHERE: Dr. Susan J. Simpson Education Center Board Room, 2602 S. Belt Line Road, Grand Prairie, TX 75052

For more information, please contact Sam Buchmeyer, GPISD Public Information Officer at (972) 237-5380.