Perpich through the eyes of a South student

Perpich through the eyes of a South student

Maddie Colbert, Staff Writer

After a 35-minute car ride, we finally arrived at the Perpich Center for Arts Education. Perpich is an arts focused high school in Golden Valley, with six different art areas, which include dance, literary arts, media arts, music, theater and visual arts. Perpich is a big, long, brown building with lots of windows, and geese covering the ground. Haley Richter, a former South student, proudly and excitedly explained which buildings were which, and showed me to the main door. When we walked in, no one checked our IDs, or questioned why I was there. It was assumed that we were responsible for ourselves.

8:40: AP Literature and Composition
Most classes start at 8:00, but since this class is a whole year long instead of a semester, it is shorter. The classroom had one orange wall, and one blue one. The rest were covered in posters and student made work. There were only about 12 students in the course. The class had written papers about The Awaking, and peer edited each other’s work to fit the criteria of the AP test. While the students were giving each other feedback, I doodled some moons and stars on the top of my paper. The boy sitting next to me had doodled a silhouette of a man and of wind, a doodle that would have taken me hours to finish.

9:35: Sociology
I was lucky Haley knew when it was time to change classes, because there are no bells at Perpich. In her next class, there was a substitute teacher. She handed out a packet, but looked surprised when everyone got up to leave and do their work outside of the classroom. “The teacher trusts us,” the class informed the sub. “If you don’t do the work in class, then you just have to do it at home,” they said. And the class dispersed throughout the school, to places like the Lit Loft, with beanbags and computers, or to different hallways that were decorated with student-designed murals. Haley had to grab some books from her locker, so she decided this was a good time for a tour. She showed me the art galleries, music rooms, the recording studio, and the print room. While we were on our tour, no one stopped us and demanded our passes.

11:10: CIS Spanish 3&4
Each passing time is 10 minutes, and since Haley’s second and third block (Perpich classes run in block schedules instead of classes, so instead of having 6 classes for 55 minutes each, they have 3 classes for about 85 minutes each) were close to each other, we got to wait outside her class and people-watch. I saw about 5 people that used to be South students; all were ecstatic about Perpich, but missed South nonetheless. Spanish was a small class again, no more that 15 students. Because of the small class, each student had a turn to practice their Spanish by telling the class what they did over the weekend. They were working on writing their own raps about the environment, as well as making Day of the Dead pictures. When I leaned over to Haley and asked to borrow a pass to the bathroom, she laughed and pushed me out the door. Instead of interrupting the teacher, students are free to go to the bathroom at their own will. Students are expected to come back, and from my observations, they did.

12:35: Lunch
As Haley and I waited for a friend of hers to get lunch, I got a look at the lunchroom. There were a variety of options for lunch, including a salad bar. Nearly all the tables were empty, as not a lot of people were eating in the lunchroom. Most of the students were scattered throughout the school or outside, on the cement, the grass, the picnic benches or the swings. Some students have an hour-long lunch, but Haley’s Spanish class cuts into her lunch, leaving her with only 20 minutes for lunch.

1:00: AP Music Theory
After lunch, Haley’s schedule switched from academic classes to visual and performing art classes. Because of her vocal skills, Haley chose to be in the music track, which meant the second half of her day was filled with music classes. I was warmly welcomed into Haley’s music theory class, and because I’ve played the piano for a couple years, I thought I might be able to understand what was going on. But by the second sentence the teacher spoke, I was completely lost. As a small class of about 12 people, every person was able to ask questions to work out any confusion they had their homework. The instructor heavily emphasized that she wanted the students to connect with what they were learning, instead of just being told what to do. As a boy walked in late carrying a bowl of oatmeal, the class groaned. When students come in late, or with food, or leave the practice rooms a mess, they are given a “red ball,” which means the practice rooms are closed after school. The ball colors are hung in front of the classroom. A green ball means the rooms are open, and a yellow ball means they are on probation, and have a couple days to fix their mistakes. The second half of music theory was ear training, where student were able to practice singing different notes. The class sang songs like Row Row Row Your boat solfège, which meant instead of lyrics, they sang do ray me fa so la ti do, depending on which note it was. It was quite impressive to hear!

2:25: Ensembles
For a less more than an hour, Haley is part of a three person music group. She and two guys, both who play the guitar and sing, come up with songs they want to perform, and during this time period they practice them. Haley’s ensemble has chosen to preform two covers and one song written by one of the guitar players. Haley’s ensemble practices in a corner of a hallway, because they don’t like their practice room. Because of this, people coming down the stairs would say, “I can hear this all the way upstairs, it sounds great!” Their music would draw many onlookers, creating a crowd. This was probably my favorite part of the day. As I sat there listening to them play their songs, I could see a gallery of artwork from the seniors last year, and the pond outside. There was something almost movie-esque about being able to hear the music they had created while surrounded by creativity.

I loved my day at Perpich. Whenever someone asked me why I was there, they all seem genuinely interested in what I had to say. I liked the amount of trust the students were given, and that no one seemed to abuse it. But when I came back to South the next day, I realized that I had missed it. Our building may not be as pretty, and the only grass we can sit on may be blocked off, but coming back to South felt like coming back home.