Tuesday, May 10, 2011

North High WILL Have a Freshman Class in 2011

Photo from Minnesota Public Radio.

Photo from Minnpost.
Post by the Hawthorne Hawkman, photo credits linked above.

The Star Tribune recently reported in error that there would not be an incoming freshman class at North High this year.  However, a proud North High parent posted to the Minneapolis Issues Forum an email from Superintendent Johnson that indicates the exact opposite.  Organizers who have recruited new students repeatedly say that the number one barrier to getting committed students, parents, families, and other supporters is the concern that North High will close.

Since Johnson specifically stated on May 9, 2011, "I am pleased to announce that North High School will welcome a ninth-grade class in the fall of 2011," we need to spread the word that our North High Polars will indeed have a freshman class this year.

Superintendent Johnson's email is reprinted in full after the jump...

From: Communications Department
Sent: Monday, May 09, 2011 4:17 PM
To: undisclosed-recipients
Subject: North High to welcome ninth-grade class

Dear Friends of North High School,

I am pleased to announce that North High School will welcome a ninth-grade class in the fall of 2011. Previously, North High was prepared to accept a freshmen class for the 2011-12 school year only if 125 students were registered to enroll at the school by the end of April. This new recommendation will officially come before the Board of Education on Tuesday evening.

Much has changed since the initial requirement for minimum enrollment was made. My decision to accept a freshmen class comes with thorough consideration and reflection on the developments of the past six months.  In my role as an advocate for students, I continue to keep my eyes and ears open in order to be able to adapt and respond to the needs of our students. This means staying focused on their best interests.

I am driven to lead our efforts to raise academic achievement for all students. I have been clear that focus and coalition-building are critical components of this work. I now have the utmost confidence that students at North High School can and will be successful because of the strong partnership of the school district; the community; North High; and the Institute for Student Achievement, a nonprofit school turnaround organization that has a strong track record of successfully transforming underperforming high schools into new academically rigorous and personalized schools.

I am committed to the future graduates of North and enthused by the work that we have begun with ISA. A study conducted by the Academy for Educational Development, a nonprofit organization working to create solutions to critical health, education, social and economic development problems, found that ISA students have higher attendance, course accumulation, grade promotion and graduation rates than comparison students. By grade 12, approximately 93 percent of ISA students pass each of the required high-stakes exams. These are the types of successes we are poised to see for all North High students.

ISA has graciously agreed to begin early implementation of the redesign work in order to support the new ninth-grade class. Although the full implementation of North's redesign will take hold in the fall of 2012 as planned, our goal is to ensure that every student graduates and has the support necessary to be successful.

We feel strongly that the success of our students lies in the hands of many individuals. As part of the ISA model, every ninth-grade student, like colleagues in the older grades, will have the support of a school staff member who will serve as an in-school advisor to provide academic support and assist in meeting students' social or emotional needs. Each student will also have a community mentor with whom to meet on a regular and consistent basis. The school district and North High School will continue to strengthen our partnerships with businesses and civic organizations to increase students' internship, service learning and workforce-related experiences.

North now has a strong and experienced leader, Principal Peter Christensen, who is committed to North and will continue in his position through the transition to the new North. Principal Christensen will play an instrumental role in leading North staff while supporting students to stay focused on academics during the transition and engaged in the process of redesigning their school.

Now more than ever I believe that the incoming freshmen class will have a high quality high school experience. I believe that the trajectory for incoming and current North students has changed drastically and is now moving in a very positive direction. I am grateful to those who work to ensure that students' voices are heard and represented during important conversations. Thank you for your continued advocacy on behalf of Minneapolis students.


Bernadeia H. Johnson
Superintendent of Schools

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