DeBusk Enrichment Center for Academically Talented Students
Manuel Conrad DeBusk
June 13, 1914- October 24, 2011
Manuel Conrad DeBusk- Attorney, Politician, Entrepreneur, and Philanthropist, passed away of natural causes on Monday, October 24, 2011, at the age of 97. Manuel Conrad DeBusk was born in Grosvenor, Texas, and grew up in Idalou, near Lubbock. When he was 14, he entered Wayland Baptist College, now Wayland Baptist University, in Plainview, Texas. He received his bachelor's degree from Texas Technological College, now known as Texas Tech University, where he graduated with honors, at 18 years of age. Mr. DeBusk started his career in Washington D.C. as a messenger with the newly formed Federal Housing Administration. He attended law school at George Washington University during the first two years he worked for the FHA. In 1938, he was named office manager of the FHA office in Dallas. He moved to Dallas and received his law degree from Southern Methodist University, where he graduated and married a classmate, Edith Mann, in 1941. During World War II, Mr. DeBusk was a special agent for the FBI. On October 27, 1945, Mr. DeBusk resigned from the FBI and was issued a Certificate of Honorable War Service from J. Edgar Hoover, Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. After the war, Manuel and Edith DeBusk established a law office in Dallas that specialized in real estate matters. In 1951 he made an unsuccessful bid for the Texas House. After that, he devoted his political energy to party politics. He was Secretary of the Dallas County Democratic Executive Committee from 1956 to 1962. From 1962-1963, Mr. DeBusk was President and International President of Cosmopolitan International, a community service club. He was a longtime conservative who was active in politics from 1936 through 1980. He held numerous party offices with the Democrats, including Dallas County chairman in 1974. In 1963, Mr. DeBusk, as Chairman of the Texas Tech Board of Regents, supported the name change for Texas Tech University, formerly known as Texas Technological College. Mr. DeBusk said it was difficult to get the name change because the word, "Tech" was not in the dictionary. In 1970, he was commissioned as Chairman of the Coordinating Board for the Texas College and University System. He was also President of the Ex-Students Association. He was a delegate to the Democratic National Convention in Chicago in 1968. In 1974, he replaced Earl Luna as the Democratic chairman in Dallas County. In December 1979, Mr. DeBusk was asked by a reporter about his attendance at recent Dallas political meetings for Ronald Reagan's campaign (Independents for Reagan). and a gathering for California Gov. Jerry Brown, who was seeking the Democratic nomination. He told the reporter that he was likely to be found wherever there is a political meeting. Mr. DeBusk was a person who became a leader in everything he did. Before becoming a Republican, Mr. DeBusk was a conservative who found it hard to split with his Democratic roots, said longtime friend, Mike Tibbals. Mr. DeBusk and his first wife, Edith DeBusk, co-founded the DeBusk Foundation on March 5, 1979. Mr. and Mrs. DeBusk were both gifted individuals and knew they wanted to help exceptional children advance their skills by offering scholarships, giving first to individuals to continue in their studies. Mr. DeBusk's primary focus in his late 60's, 70's, and 80's was to lead the DeBusk Foundation as President, and then as a Director, to promote the summer programs that fulfilled his and Edith DeBusk's vision brought to fruition. DECATS (DeBusk Enrichment Center for Academically Talented Scholars) was developed and replicated in cities throughout Texas, including Dallas, Houston, & Tyler. The foundation has provided funding for programs that have benefits thousands of gifted scholars. The foundation continues his work today.
After Edith DeBusk's death in 1990, he continued their law practice and kept his many different businesses running. He played golf until his mid 80's and was a member of the National Association of Left-Handed Golfers and the Texas Association of Left Handed Golfers.
Background of the DeBusk Foundation DECATS and Senior DECATS
Mr. DeBusk and his first wife, Edith DeBusk, co-founded the DeBusk Foundation on March 5, 1979. Mr. and Mrs. DeBusk were both gifted individuals and knew they wanted to help exceptional children advance their skills by offering scholarships, giving first to individuals to continue in their studies. Impressed by the selection of their schools as National Exemplary Schools, Mr. DeBusk approached Dr. Sue Francis at Hamilton Park Pacesetter School in the Richardson Independent School District and Dr. Diane Cooper at Immaculate Conception Catholic School in Grand Prairie, to develop ideas for the educational outreach of the Foundation. Both Dr. Francis and Dr. Cooper currently sit on the Board of Directors of the DeBusk Foundation, as Director and Vice President, respectively.
The initial programs were the DECATS program held at Immaculate Conception School in Grand Prairie, followed by the DeBusk Leadership School in Richardson. Foundation giving soon evolved into funding entire summer programs at private and public schools located in Texas. The DECATS program has also been established in Florida and Ohio.
The DeBusk Foundation currently provides scholarships to 8 Texas private and public schools for gifted and talented children during the summer. More than 12,000 children have benefitted from the scholarships awarded to children ages 12 and under. They attend dynamic classes learning about arts, sciences, mathematics, robotics, computers, literature, and more, with an emphasis on leadership skills, ethics, community service, and personal growth.
DECATS, first at Immaculate Conception School in Grand Prairie and later at Christ the King School in Dallas, was first directed by Dr. Diane Cooper, and grew exponentially over the years with several talented directors adding their ideas to the program. That same DECATS program is now known as Junior DECATS, directed by Mrs. Jodi Sheffield at Mary Immaculate School in Carrollton.
Dr. Marty Webb, who currently sits on the Board of the DeBusk Foundation as Director and Grants Chair, replicated DECATS in Houston at Corpus Christi Catholic School. Current DECATS programs in Houston include St. Rose of Lima Catholic School with an additional campus at St. Pius X High School, and directed by Mr. John Barone. DECATS at the Holy Spirit Episcopal School in Houston is directed by Mrs. Virginia Goble. DECATS has now branched to several other schools in Houston, Sugar Land, and Tyler. Austin schools also have recently replicated the program. Mrs. Debra Haney directs DECATS at St. Laurence Catholic School in Sugar Land. DECATS at All Saints Episcopal School, in Tyler, is directed by Mrs. Gloria Zapalac. The Austin DEEP program is hosted by the Holy Family Catholic School in Austin, and directed by Mr. Keith Youngpeter.
While the DeBusk Foundation's Mission is to enrich gifted and talented students ages 12 under, innumerable requests for a summer DECATS program in Dallas for middle school gifted students resulted in a companion program developed by Dr. Cooper and Mr. Ron Accommando in 1993, which continues today as Senior DECATS, under the direction of Mrs. Pat Shotland. Pat was one of the original teachers employed with Senior DECATS and after Ron Accomando left in 1995, moved into the director’s role. Senior DECATS is a part of the DeBusk Coalition and enjoys the collaboration and cooperation of the Junior DECATS program in Dallas. While the curriculum content is different in Senior DECATS, the philosophy of the program remains the same.
Senior DECATS Today:
For three weeks each June, qualified students take enrichment classes from 9am until 4pm, Monday through Thursday, and from 9am until noon on Fridays. Each student chooses a “major” from nine possible courses of study: Fashion Design, Culinary Arts, Drama/Musical Theater, Journalism, Mock Trial, Psychology, Rock Opera, Science, and Visual Arts. Students spend approximately ten hours per week (30 hours total) exploring their chosen majors with teachers who are experts in their respective fields. Exploratory overview classes (“electives”) are offered the remainder of the day. Students can choose up to 9 different electives. These classes meet for 4 days one hour each day and change each week. So, a student is challenged and offered opportunities to explore a wide range of subject areas.
The Senior DECATS community is especially nurturing to students and facilitates an environment of acceptance and positive leadership. The program has shown itself to have a lasting effect that benefits both participating students as well as their communities. One of the cornerstones of the program is community service.. All graduates are required to participate in a community service project that includes planning and implementing a fundraiser dance and other student generated activities. Typically, Senior DECATS students have continued in leadership roles in high school, showing a strong awareness of community service and civic responsibility. The students have gone on to specialized leadership programs with representation in National Hispanic Institute, African American Peace Program INTERACT, Asian Community Future Business Leadership Program as well as in Key Club, National Honor Society, Student Council, and National Merit Finalists. Self-awareness, leadership and responsibility to the community are all qualities that need to be explored and nurtured in order to maximize human potential. The Senior DECATS program fosters these qualities and fine-tunes skills that young talented and gifted adolescents need in order to contribute to a complex and changing society.
In 2013 there was a total of 261 scholars: 128 (49% of student body) rising 7th graders, twelve years old or younger 95% (120) of the sixth graders attending the program had attended Junior DECATS and were continuing the DECATS experience begun in third grade. Approximately 15% (24) of the seventh and eighth grade students were returning to the program after taking off a year and approximately 18% (50) of the students were attending a DECATS program for the first time. It is accurate to say that a vast majority of the Senior DECATS scholars participate in both Junior and Senior DECATS, creating a six year experience with far reaching results. Representatives from 28 schools in the Dallas Diocese attended.
Based on the results of Iowa Test of Basic Skills (ITBS) achievement test, nominees must be in the 97th percentile or above, in two or more of the curricular areas (Vocabulary, Reading, Language, Math, Science, Social Studies) and achieve a minimum composite total of 115 on the Cognitive Abilities Test (CogAT). Additionally, current teachers must rate behavior and attitude of students using a 1-5 scale. Finally, artistically talented students (Visual Arts, Drama or Music) can apply with a letter of recommendation from a current teacher that describes the student’s outstanding talents. Students that qualify in this way are considered only if there is room in the program.