Banard Field occupation in cold temps shows community dedication


It may have been below zero, but these South High students, coaches, parents, staff, and alumni braved the cold to show not only their want, but need for a new athletic field. Bundling up, Hot Chocolate, and a sense of school pride kept everyone on the field nice and toasty. Photo: Izzy Willette

Friday, January 6th — A large amount of people crowded South High’s Barnard field after school to raise attention to the school’s new for a new athletic field and track. The site, in possession of the Minneapolis school district, has had controversy regarding its ability to fit not only a new athletic field for South, but also a new building for ABE and Transition Plus.

“Occupy Barnard field” was organized by South High community members who had strong feelings about the plans for the reconstruction of South’s Barnard field, or, as track star and soccer captain Emma Schluter put it, “unusable” field. Both the track and field’s size and condition make it hard for South sports to hold athletic events on their own home turf, and the South High community is fed up.

“We’ve been promised a new track, and we’ve watched everyone else get tracks and we keep not getting them. My kids run Cross country and track, and we need a track,” South High parent Kathleen Devore explained.

South currently has one field, Barnard field, that is used for football, but track and field athletes have to practice elsewhere because of the field’s inadequacy.

While MPS – the Minneapolis school district – has for several years been developing plans for a new field, the district also has to incorporate a new ABE (Adult Basic Education) and Transition Plus building on the land North of Barnard field. This has caused confusion on what the plan will now be for the new field, but those who gathered at “Occupy Barnard field” wanted to make it clear that the field is in “desperate need of change,” according to Mark Gross South High cross country and track coach.

The occupation was organized by Anita Newhouse, a parent at South, who mentioned: “We need them to build the new building for the Transition Plus and the ABE program because that would be good for us, but we have to have a field too. We don’t want to be the only metro high school field that isn’t a regulation field.”

Newhouse continued: “We want to turn people out so they start talking about it so we start a community discussion, and so the district sees it and knows that we’re willing to show up in negative degree weather because we’re that serious about acquiring our field.”

Newhouse wasn’t the only member of the South High community out on the field to show their support, there were teachers, students, athletes, coaches, South staff, and alumni outside on a day with a high of one degree fahrenheit showing their dedication to the new field.

DeVore continued by saying the occupation was meant to“bring attention…I won’t lie, this is my opinion, [but] shame to the district leaders a little bit because we need to get more support for South.”

The gathering out on Barnard field provided a clear message that the South High community wants a new field and wants to know what the plans for it are. As Gross put it: “We do need a new field, and we do matter.”