Family, friends and Chicago officials gathered Wednesday for an emotional ceremony to remember a fallen police officer and dedicate a new, state-of-the-art high school in his honor.
Eric Solorio Academy High School, at 5400 S. St. Louis is a new, environmentally sustainable high school built for 1,200 students. It has 25 classrooms, six science labs and a six-lane pool.
But it's the man behind the name of the academy -- Eric Solorio -- that meant so much to those gathered Wednesday. Solorio grew up in the Back of the Yards neighborhood that was infested with gangs. But instead of choosing a life of crime, he decided to help others and pick up a career in law enforcement.
He died at the age of 26 in a car crash with his partner during a chase in February 2006.
"When Eric died, we didn't just lose an exceptional police officer. We lost a remarkable person," recalled former Chicago Police Sup.t Phil Cline during Wednesday's dedication.
Solorio's sister said her brother lived a short life but had great impact on those around him. She said he would have been honored by the dedication.
"Curiosity and quest for knowledge helped him to achieve academically. He loved learning and he excelled in school," said Richelle Solorio.
"Eric Solorio created the legacy of a man worthy of inspiring and guiding Chicago's children in this state-of-the-art facility," said police Supt. Jody Weis.
Three hundred students have already begun orientation at the school. Classes are set to start next Tuesday.