An inside look comparing five city schools: “What would it have been like if I had gone to . . . ?”
Roosevelt High School and FAIR Downtown
April 11, 2016
A link to the interviews of Washburn and Patrick Henry students can be found here.
We interviewed Declan Mcguire, a junior currently at South, who switched to South from Roosevelt his sophomore year.
What made you switch schools?
Ever since I’d started looking at high school I thought South was the place to be. For starters, most of my friends were going to South. I’ve been involved with South’s music program which was also a factor that drew me into South. South’s music program is extremely excellent and basically the best music program in Minneapolis Public Schools.
What classes or programs did they offer that are different from at South?
The academic programs at the two schools are very different. Roosevelt focuses on IB (International Baccalaureate). IB is a way to take advanced classes and challenge yourself as well as earn both high school and college credit.
Roosevelt has different programs from South. The Auto Program is very popular. Students at the Velt can earn high school and college credit through their auto classes.on two paths, Collision/Body and Engine. Students from Roosevelt can earn Auto Mechanical Certifications and start careers straight out of high school at car dealerships.
The Health Careers program focuses on Nursing and EMT training. Classes can lead to paramedic certifications and hands-on applied health experience. Both the Auto and Health Careers programs are legitimate and help students towards successful careers.
How does the learning environment differ at South from Roosevelt?
At Roosevelt, teacher to student interaction is highly stressed. The bulk of my class work load was completed in class, whereas at South, students are expected to complete assignments and read textbooks at home. I think this is partly fine. However the two schools have different general learning environments that could make it hard for some students to learn based on their learning styles.
South focuses a lot on social activism, what are some of the focuses at Roosevelt?
South definitely has a strong history of social justice involvement and students experience classes surrounding those issues. I have heard from friends from Roosevelt that this upcoming school year Roosevelt will offer a social justice elective class, largely examining and involving the Black Lives Matter Movement.
How did the staff treat students at Roosevelt?
Staff and students at Roosevelt have a very interactive relationship. All the teachers I encountered at my time there were extremely passionate about their students and jobs. Teachers regularly spoke to me and my classmates about our futures and steps we should take to be successful. I truly felt that the staff there wanted to connect to every student on a personal level and build a strong relationship. Principle Michael Bradley and the administration are active in school activities and can be seen in classrooms and in the hallways during passing time.
Were there security guards? How did they interact with students?
Roosevelt does not have security guards. They have a dean for every grade and a vice principal for every grade. Tardies and passing time are a major concern for the administration at Roosevelt. Promptness is stressed heavily. They have “hall sweep” where if a student is not in class on time they will be “swept” up and brought to detention. If a student accumulates enough detention they have to complete a Saturday school session. I think because there aren’t as many deans/ security guards at Roosevelt they get to know the students better and students I think feel they know them better.
We interviewed Rachel Smith, a current senior at FAIR Downtown. Smith does not and has not attended South High.
Why did you choose to go to FAIR?
I went to the FAIR middle school out in Crystal, and I liked my experience there and wanted to continue it at the high school, especially after the tour of it.
In your opinion, what is the best thing about Fair? Worst thing?
The best thing about FAIR probably has to be the amount of opportunities we’ve been given. FAIR+ is a collective of partnerships with various businesses sourced mainly in Minneapolis: 3rd Lair, Target, the Cowles Center, the Hennepin Theater Trust, the Loft, to name a few, as well as our close-ness to MCTC. We also have the 1:1 (1 to 1) program, providing one laptop per one student, which has been incredibly conducive to everyone’s learning experience.
The worst thing is our administration. Many students feel as though the people in the offices don’t care about the students the way they should, and that makes it difficult because their role is so instrumental to our day-to-day school experience as well as the big picture stuff. There is a large lack of communication from them to the families, students, and even the teachers.
Communication and organization are big issues with FAIR. There is also a lack of follow-through with promised/proposed ideas, which has brought down student morale on many occasions.
What has the school taught you besides the normal schoolwork?
Because of FAIR, I have learned the importance of independence in all aspects of my life.
How would you describe your school in 3 words?
Independent, community-driven, arts-oriented.
How is the learning environment at Fair?
The learning environment varies a bit from class to class, as there are a wide range of class sizes; I’ve had classes of over 25, and classes of 4 including me. Overall, teachers foster an environment that allows more creativity and is catered to students on an individual level.
Do you have security guards? If so, what is the relationship between them and students?
No. Our principal has made a point to keep security guards out of the school.
What is the relationship like between teachers and students?
There is a good variety of personalities rather than the stereotypical teacher vs. student dichotomy. I’ve had good relationships with nearly all of my teachers and I believe that everyone here has at least a few that they are comfortable with.
What kinds of classes are offered that you think are super interesting?
I love my Anatomy & Physiology class. It’s college preparatory so it’s very in-depth. There are many I haven’t taken but have stood out to me: stage fighting, recycled sculpture, screen printing, with good accommodation for independent studies if there isn’t a class suitable for you.
Anything else you’d like to say about Fair?
When it’s good, it’s really good, but when it’s bad, it’s awful. There isn’t very much grey area for the experience. I have learned a lot.