Did you start your school day with a choreographed routine to a Justin Timberlake jam, an empowering pledge that starts out with "I believe in myself; I play big; I refuse to let anyone define me" and a dedicated time for fostering positive relationships among students? Us neither, but if you think it sounds awesome ... it is. Dallas ISD's Solar Preparatory School for Girls kicked off with kindergarten, first grade and second grade last fall (it'll add a grade level each year, through eighth grade) and the little girls that skip through the former James B. Bonham campus get things done. The curriculum is STEAM focused: You'll find pig-tailed kiddos coding, engineering lemonade stands and planning guerrilla art projects — and that's before lunch. There's also an emphasis on socio-emotional learning, allowing girls space to build self-esteem and support each other. The mean girl ethos that can so easily upend female confidence is not a thing here. Instead, girls focus on the Solar Six: curiosity, self-awareness, empathy, humility, leadership and grit. In the hallways and classrooms of Solar Prep, there's a joyful and palpable energy among the diverse students. It's like they know that someday, they're gonna run this motha.

Best Gallery for Local Artists
Kathy Tran

Since 2005, Kettle Art Gallery has given Dallas-based up-and-coming artists a place to let their work shine in a city synonymous with stuffy art galleries and constant importing. In the heart of Deep Ellum, Kettle is by artists, for artists, and a place for the underrepresented to feel acknowledged. "Godfather of Deep Ellum" Frank Campagna owns the volunteer-run gallery that first opened its doors when Deep Ellum's popularity and revenue were at a standstill. His persistence and dedication to the job and the gallery's mission to be a welcoming venue for area artists of all styles make Kettle Art Gallery the top locally driven arts destination.

Best Hire
Stephen Young

He started the job only in January, so maybe nine months is a little premature to make this call. But so far, T.C. Broadnax, former city manager of Tacoma, Washington, has yet to make any splashy headlines. By Dallas standards, that's a pretty good record for a city manager. There've been no reports of secret deals with drilling companies to plant rigs in city parks. No conspiracies with cab companies to use the cops to harass ride-sharing outfits. No major audits under his watch showing that scads of money have disappeared into the ether. No one's tried to gin up fake felony charges against sitting City Council members. The tide of bullshit flowing from City Hall has abated somewhat. In fact, things have been remarkably quiet under Broadnax's leadership. Maybe too quiet. Uh-oh.

Best About-Face
Flickr/Paul Sableman

The deal was all but done. Under a plan pushed by Mayor Mike Rawlings, the City Council looked set to hand over management of Fair Park, home of the State Fair of Texas and one of the largest collections of decrepit Art Deco buildings in the country, to a private entity led by the mayor's pal, Walt Humann, along with $20 million a year in city money to Humann's group, the Fair Park Foundation. Dallas was between city attorneys at the time, and the interim city attorney signed off on the deal. Then two things happened: Dallas got a new city attorney, Larry Casto, and mayoral adversary, lawyer and all-around sweet guy, City Councilman Philip Kingston, asked a question. Can the city really just hand over a major hunk of city property without seeking competitive bids? Casto had an answer — and a pair of big ones, considering the way City Hall works: No, it can't. The city has to put out a request for proposals for bidders if it wants to hand management of the 277 acres of city property over to a private entity. That opens the door for other groups to bring fresh ideas for rebuilding the park in a way that might help lift the blighted South Dallas neighborhood around it. If that happens, and that's a pretty big if, whichever group wins the bid can erect a small bronze plaque commemorating Larry Casto in some corner of the park.

Best Rebellion
Elroy Johnson

Odd thing about the Texas GOP: It's all for small government and local control except when its philosophy runs up against one simple fact. Texas' largest urban areas tend to be Democratic strongholds. They also tend to have sizable populations of Latinos. So when Senate Bill 4 came up before this year's legislative session, the party faced a philosophical conundrum. Can right-thinking Republicans support a bill that threatens criminal penalties for local officials who refuse to act as federal proxies in enforcing immigration law? You bet they can. When it comes to immigrant-bashing, there's no low that the party of Donald Trump won't sink to. Under SB 4, local sheriffs and police chiefs are forbidden from adopting any policy that might hinder the enforcement of federal immigration laws, even if that means local immigrant communities are less likely to turn to the police when they're victims of crime for fear of being deported. Texas' major cities aren't taking that lying down. Dallas joined Houston, San Antonio, Austin and other communities in a federal lawsuit challenging the bill, which means that eventually a federal court will determine for Texas whether its state government can order local government to act as proxies for the federal government. The word you're looking for, by the way, is "hypocrites."

Best State Representative
Can Turkyilmaz

During what was otherwise a desultory session of the Texas Legislature, several Dallas reps stood out by sticking up for their city. Freshman Victoria Neave repeatedly stood up for women and immigrants. Eric Johnson, West Dallas' rising star, worked hard for criminal justice reform and proposed innovative solutions to smooth out the effect of gentrification in his neighborhood. In a session notorious for its ugliness toward Texas' immigrant community, however, Rafael Anchia's voice was essential. Anchia, head of the Mexican American Legislative Caucus, couldn't stop Senate Bill 4, Texas' sanctuary cities bill, but he made sure those who fought for it couldn't do so in the dark, calling out the bill for cranking up the fear in Latino communities around the state and turning Texas cops into immigration officers. If Texas' demographics ever prove to be destiny, Anchia will be a progressively more powerful figure as the state gets bluer.

Best Protest
Paul Wingo

When newly elected President Donald Trump announced he was banning travelers from seven Middle Eastern countries, effective immediately, at the beginning of January, sympathetic North Texans flocked to D/FW Airport to show their support for those who might be stuck there, as well as those who might be arriving from one of the banned countries. Lawyers helped stranded travelers free of charge, and Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings and Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins showed up to take a stand with the immigrants and against Trump. Eventually, thanks to help of a couple of court orders, those detained were released and reunited with their loved ones. During the first domestic crisis of the Trump administration, Dallas stood up.

Best Petty Fight
The View via Youtube

Glenn Beck and Tomi Lahren deserve each other. That's what made it so sad when the two right-wing yakkers, thrown together at Beck's The Blaze, went through such an acrimonious divorce earlier this year. The Blaze froze Lahren out after she went on The View and told the world that, as a civil libertarian, she was pro-choice. Lahren sued the network for wrongful termination. Beck fired back that Lahren was a nightmare to deal with on staff and that she hadn't been fired; she just wasn't going on the air anymore. Eventually, the parties settled. Lahren got her Facebook page back, and Beck got Lahren off his network for good. The Blaze is getting along just fine in Lahren's absence, and Lahren's profanity-filled tirade about activist Dominique Alexander's spot on a community panel interviewing Dallas police chief candidates got more than two million views on Facebook, so everybody seems to have come out OK.

At least one vote took place last November that left us not appalled, but applauding. After careful consideration and a review by a church committee, Wilshire Baptist Church's congregation took a vote on whether to accept LGBT people as full members, meaning they can serve in church office as lay leaders and clergy and even get married there. It was a gut-wrenching vote for the church, led by the Rev. George Mason, but in the end the congregation voted 577-367 to welcome LGBT people as full participants in the church. The vote was a rare move by a Baptist congregation, and it cost the church some longtime members, gained its others and led to the its break from the Baptist General Convention of Texas. But in the end, when asking the question WWJD, Wilshire came back with a compassionate and loving answer.

Best Lucky Dog
Courtesy of Carrollton Police Department

In late February, Dallas' broadcast airwaves overflowed with the tragic tale of Lucky the 4-month-old Chihuahua mix who ate a bag of heroin as he sat in the parking lot while his owners ran a pricetag switching scam inside a Carrollton Home Depot. Luckily for Lucky, cops busted his owners and found him in the scammers' truck just after his overdose. Doctors at the North Texas Emergency Vet Clinic saved Lucky's life, and he headed to rehab for a couple of weeks at Carrollton Animal Control Services Center. A Carrollton couple and their 5-year-old granddaughter adopted Lucky on March 8.

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