Art department struggles to reflect South’s diversity

Nico Mercadal, Staff Writer

Over the last several years, the South High arts department has been taking steps to better reflect the diversity of South in the various arts programs South offers. South is well known for the varied student population, however the diversity in the Arts department has changed, better reflecting the diversity of South.


Prior to South High Theater’s production of Hairspray, there was a lack of participation from African-American students. Ellen Fenster, director and coordinator of SHT has addressed the diversity gap.

“[We’re taking] really active steps to increase the diversity. Three years ago, SHT did not reflect the diversity of South High.” states Fenster. SHT has been producing more racially diverse plays and bringing in multicultural leaders and coaches to increase the diversity of the theater. Accessibility is a large obstacle for many students involvement in many extracurriculars. To address this, new theater classes have been added during the seven period day.

“Having theater during the day would engage students who normally wouldn’t be able to participate in theater.” says Fenster


“I want to make the music program  reflect the diversity of South” Eric Sayre, the band director and music coordinator says. “[Right now], it reflects the diversity of Minneapolis Public Schools’ feeder programs.”

The music program has undergone some significant program changes. Addition such as music theory and guitar have been added to increase the appeal of the music department to more student.


The newly added guitar and piano classes feature several students from the Newcomer program.

“Every human being is creative and musical” describes Sarah Minette, the new beginning band/piano/guitar teacher. “We learn a lot about each other [through music]. It helps bridge cultural gaps.”


Further additions are planning on being added in the next 5-10 years, including courses in modern music history and music technology, with the hope of attracting more students to the music department. Mr. Sayre further expresses his ambitions for the music department.

“Music is life changing for everyone. Music can be culturally relevant for everyone.”


The ultimate goal for the departments is to reflect the diversity of South high school as a whole. Progress has been made in both departments, but there is still a ways to go.


The theater department is looking to reach out to more Somali and Native American students, by approaching South High magnet programs and Affinity groups.


Caption: Nisa Khairunnisa (left) and Nohemi Hernandez (right) practice a student original composition


Headline: Reflecting South in the Arts