Don’t let anybody tell you that kids today lack ambition. Judging by Hillcrest High School senior Leon Solimani, our civic future looks bright. Solimani’s many achievements were recently crowned with his election as president of the Dallas Teen School Board.

Solimani’s political career is developed well beyond what may be expected of a near high school graduate. Involved in student government for years, he serves as president of his class in addition to his leadership role at the Teen Board. And while he also plays football, soccer and baseball, politics are his passion.

“When I was younger, I thought I wanted to be president of the United States,” Solimani admits. His current plan is only slightly less ambitious: “I would like to have some sort of political career,” he says, “First I would like to be mayor, then move up to senator, and if that goes well, we’ll see how the presidential scene is looking.”

You may be tempted to smile at Solimani’s confidence; that is, until you see how much experience he already has gained.

The Dallas Teen Board serves as a liaison between students and the school board, and Solimani became involved last year while serving as Hillcrest’s junior class president. Undaunted by the board’s policy that juniors were too inexperienced to be president, Solimani began his campaign one year early, like any seasoned politician would, by pressing the flesh.

“I made it known that I wanted to be president the next year,” he says, “and through the different seating arrangements at each meeting, I managed to meet every junior president there and explain my situation.” One year and a short campaign speech later, Solimani was elected.

The board also plans community service projects.

“So far, we have successfully completed our first project, a sock drive that benefited the Buckner Children’s home and the Clay Company,” Solimani says. “Next, we will have a teddy bear drive to benefit the Dallas Police Department. They give the bears to children involved in domestic disturbances. And our third project, which we are still working on, is to paint a neglected elder’s house in South Dallas with help from [Board member] Ron Price.”

Solimani also gained valuable political experience from his participation in Boys State, a one-week political boot camp bringing more than 1,000 Texas boys together in Austin. Upon arriving, the boys are divided into cities and political parties, within which each participant may run for various political offices, “from mayor to city dogcatcher,” Solimani says.

“Since no one was familiar with each other yet, there was a lot of politicking,” he says. “I was elected city, county and district delegate, party whip and associate justice of the Boys State Supreme Court, and I also passed the Boys State bar exam on my first try.”

Lest you think Solimani too serious for a high school student, rest assured he is also just a regular guy. Describing his initially negative impressions of Boys State, he says, “The first three days were terrible. We had to wear these Boys State shirts, walk in lines everywhere,” and worst of all, “we couldn’t talk to any of the girls at UT orientation.”

His situation improved considerably once he and some new friends learned an essential skill for any aspiring politician these days: “We made up skits and cheers to put down the other political party. It turned out being a lot of fun.”

Solimani plans to attend college after graduation, and he is waiting for decisions from several schools.

Can we expect “Solimani for President” in our future?

“I think I should take politics one step at a time,” he says. “But be looking out for me in 2024 and 2028.”

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