Arts, media, social justice, Summatech at North


The first students taking the newest North High School curriculum may focus their studies around arts and communications/media. And they could explore social justice issues as leaders in hands-on service. The second school focus, for the subsequent batch of students, will be on the once-popular Summatech or other STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) curriculum.

Dozens of people interested in education talked in groups and wrote down ideas Oct. 4 in the North High media center where the above recommendations were unveiled. They ranged from the most passionate of longtime Northside residents who fought to keep North High School open, to a couple who moved here from South Dakota, from politicians to current students and recent graduates.

The North High School advisory committee, assisted by consultants from ISA (Institute for Student Achievement), called the shots. Gerry House, ISA lead, said that while Superintendent Bernadeia Johnson will make the final decision, it’s likely the committee’s choices will stand.

The North High School building could hold four small schools of about 400 students each, the consultants have said. Current enrollment exceeds goals by 12 percent at 225 students now. Some advocated to start Summatech now, as its graduates are more sure to get jobs. Those favoring the communications, arts, and social justice emphasis made the point that those areas give valuable skills that underpin other areas in becoming job ready.

In reporting out the results of small group discussions, the idea that there have to be local feeder schools for Summatech surfaced a couple of times. That staff should be required to be culturally competent and/or “look like” the students also was mentioned.

ISA also gathered comments on what to look for in the school leader. Principal Peter Christensen says he’s committed to staying on “until these freshmen graduate, but we also need a long term committed driver for the new programs,” said one of the presenters.

Organizers also encouraged people to sign up to be mentors for the students. For more information on that opportunity, contact Scott Redd at:, 612-668-0641 or Peter Christensen at 612-668-1700.