Joel Luera | KERA News

Joel Luera

Lara Solt / KERA News special contributor

Going to school in a tough neighborhood has its challenges, even for a high-achiever like Joel Luera. The high school debater is headed to college in the fall, but the road to graduation hasn’t been easy.

Lara Solt

The Class of ’17 — a group of North Texas students that KERA began following three years ago — is wrapping up its junior year. And it’s crunch time, which means these students are starting to make decisions about what will come after graduation.

Stella M. Chavez / KERA News

Ninth-grader Joel Luera is a smart kid in a tough neighborhood. Sometimes other kids don’t get why he’s so studious. He loves to read – so much that he’s in a book club at W.W. Samuell High School in Dallas. Joel is the latest kid to join KERA’s series Class of ’17 – a five-year project following a group of North Texas students from eighth grade to graduation. It’s part of the national public media initiative American Graduate.

Stella M. Chavez / KERA News

When you think of book clubs, you don’t necessarily think of boys. And when you look at the most recent Nation’s Report Card, the scores reveal that boys don’t fare as well as girls on reading tests. Here’s one book club that’s bucking that trend.