The Southerner

Mayor and interim superintendent visit college bound seniors

Anna Kleven, Sports editor

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Seniors Nate Mamo, Victor Flagg, Emilio Reyes, and Nasir Abdulkadir load their plates with La Loma food. Bowdry, who is headed to Northwestern University in Roseville, MN, credits his academic success to the "family" atmosphere created by his sports teams and friends.

Seniors Nate Mamo, Victor Flagg, Emilio Reyes, and Nasir Abdulkadir load their plates with La Loma food. Bowdry, who is headed to Northwestern University in Roseville, MN, credits his academic success to the “family” atmosphere created by his sports teams and friends.

Minneapolis mayor Betsy Hodges and interim superintendent Michael Goar ate lunch with south seniors in the media center last Thursday, April 28th.

Two days prior was national College Signing Day, part of Michelle Obama’s “Reach Higher” campaign. Her initiative boosts the president’s college graduation goals. The group of seniors, selected by principal Ray Aponte were asked to wear gear with the names of their future colleges. South employees also sported shirts and jackets from their alma matters during the school day.

Goar said that the purpose of the event was “making sure that we set aside a day celebrating student success and also recognizing students that are college bound…encourage sharing information, encourage youngsters to go to college.”

Hodges opened the conversation as students started hungrily on their tamales and guacamole. “I’m interested in hearing what your thoughts are, as people who have been through the school system and decided on a school,” she said. “What made you think about college, what made you decide on the college that you chose, and how do you feel like the school has prepared you for that?”

Senior Payton Bowdry is headed to Northwest College in St. Paul to study ministry. He credits his success in high school to people with whom he surrounded himself. He called South is a “family based school.”

“I might be failing a class and say ‘man, this is too hard.’ But then I look at my friends and they say ‘you got this.’” A starting running back and varsity basketball forward, Bowdry was pushed by teammates and coaches to be a “real student-athlete.”

Senior Miracle Adebanjo reflected his transition from England to America in 9th grade. He became involved with Upward Bound. “The fact that everyone there had the same goal as me to go to college was pretty nice….I could share some of my experiences which really helped,” he said.

Senior Emilio Reyes spoke next. “I have a different look on it. I’m Native American and I’m Mexican…I’m already faced with these stats,” he said, referring to the low graduation rates of Latino and Native students. “I look around in my community and there’s not a lot going on that’s good. I’ve seen a lot of stuff that I don’t really want to see,” he said.

Hodges asked him how the district’s fixation on the achievement gap impacted students like Reyes. “If you hear us saying all the time, ‘well, native students have low graduation rates,’ is there a way that we can talk about that would make it better or worse?”

“It fuels my motivation to graduate…I actually want to be somebody that shows everyone that they can do all of this,” he responded.

When Hodges opened the floor for questions, the students took advantage of the power in the room. Senior Emily Cherne asked the superintendent about the ACT test, which she views as inaccurate and biased. She wrote her college essay about her personal struggle with the test.

Goar responded that most schools are viewing standardized test scores as a small piece of an application, and that extra-curriculars and rigor of courses matter more to admissions than they have in the past.

The mayor leaves with her staff. She attended Wayzata High School, then Bryn Mawr College for her undergraduate degree and University of Wisconsin Madison for graduate school.

The mayor leaves with her staff. She attended Wayzata High School, then Bryn Mawr College for her undergraduate degree and University of Wisconsin Madison for graduate school.

Hodges also asked what changes students wish to see in South. Senior Mia Richie immediately said she would like to see more teachers of color, which was met with nods all around. Senior Brigie Donovan added that South has a near absence of teachers of color and a majority non-white students.

Goar spoke briefly about a program that trains MPS employees to be teachers, which graduated 30 people this year. He said that nearly all, if not all of them are people of color.

Hodges was presented with a South windbreaker and the group photos began. 

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About the Writer
Anna Kleven, Sports Editor

Tanya Hodge is one of many teachers who has noticed the mental health of their students worsen over the past few years. Her students have reached out to...

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