Winners of September YourTurn contest

Congratulations to Vicky Coronado, Kelsey Johnson and Zoe Hoaglund, all of Faribault High School, for winning the September YourTurn contest! Their essays on President Barack Obama’s speech to students show what truly motivates teens today to do well in school.

Essay: Reporter Ariel Nash on mission to learn more about her black culture after reporting story about achievement gap

In my sociology class, our teacher suggested that Mr. Favor broke up the student body because of the achievement gap. We students argued that it couldn’t have been that bad.

The teacher went over to the computer and put up MCA-II math and reading scores broken up by race. The room went silent. In 2008, among Cooper students who took the statewide math test, 21 percent of Asian, 20 percent of Hispanic and 43 percent of white students scored high enough to be considered proficient. For black students, only 4 percent did that well.

After staring at the scores and waiting for the shock to wear off, my mind did a complete 180. I no longer felt that breaking the student body up by race was a bad thing. If I, as a senior, felt embarrassed for my peers to see that my race was at the bottom of the chart, imagine how the younger students would take it.

Divide to conquer achievement gap

A principal separates students by race to expose difference in test scores.

See video

Obama: dropping out of high school no longer an option

President Barack Obama is challenging students this year to get serious about school not just for their own good, but for the good of the country. Dropping out of high school? It’s not an option, but also Obama said all Americans need at least one or two years of schooling or training after high school. ThreeSixty interviewed area teens and educators about their reactions to the president’s statement.

Schools see growth in GLBT support groups

Homophobia hurts, which Helen Sarka knows first-hand. One day, Helen’s mother came to pick her up from school and her girlfriend gave her a goodbye kiss.

“These girls were, like, ‘Oh my god, ew Ugh. You’re going to hell, dykes!’ and they didn’t stop yelling ‘till I got in the car,” Helen said.

Discussion -- Obama's speech to students: There is no excuse for not trying

On Sept. 8, President Barack Obama challenged all students in America to “get serious” about their education. Obama said he’d already talked about government’s, and parents’ and teachers’ responsibilities to students, but that students need to take responsibility for their performance, too. He said no matter what, there is no excuse for not trying in school.

ThreeSixty Journalism wants to hear your reaction!

Study abroad down, economy a suspect

If Renee Huset, a junior at the University of St. Thomas, hadn’t gone on a study abroad trip to South Africa, she wouldn’t have had a huge herd of zebras surround her on a safari.

“If that wasn’t cool enough, my friend Rachael told me to look to my left and I saw what looked like a scene from ‘The Lion King.’ Around a big watering hole were zebras, gazelles, wildebeests, and likely more animals I didn’t recognize running around carefree. It was amazing,” Huset said.

Despite schools' attempts, immigrants continue to struggle

In Minnesota, the immigration population has been rising. They come from the lush hills of Laos, from the dust-covered streets of Somalia, from the quaint villages of Mexico, and for many of them their destination is the state of Minnesota.

A lot of those new Minnesotans are children who need to go to school. And when their first language is Spanish, Hmong, Laotian or Somali rather than English, there are challenges to integrating them into predominantly English-speaking schools.

Why the Achievement Gap? Need to work limits study time

I think one of the most important reasons for Minnesota’s big racial gap in graduation rates and test scores is the economic situation in many families. Like the majority of the Latino immigrant students I know, I have to work after school to help my family here and in Mexico. Consequently, I don’t have enough time to study or to do my homework in the evening.

May Your Turn winner

I always loved learning new things until my freshman year in Geometry. I was the only 9th grader and I even had some seniors in my class. I was uncomfortable at first about being so young and I didn’t know anyone in the class.

On the first day my teacher asked if anyone knew what the Pythagorean Theorem was. I looked around the room and no one was paying any attention. I raised my hand and told him what I knew and a senior girl next to me just scoffed and said, “Look at this little freshman tryin’ to be all smart.”

CHECK IT OUT: Minnesota's must-pass math test goes by wayside

Editor’s note: If you’ve been freaking out about the math tests every Minnesota student was going to have to pass in order to graduate, check out this story from Minneapolis’s Star Tribune.

The path to high school graduation for Minnesota’s next few graduating classes got significantly easier this month.

Secret of two Sams' perfect SAT score: Joy in learning

To get a perfect score on the SAT test, most people believe that you have to spend an unusual amount of time studying.

That wasn’t the case for Sam Peterson, the Chaska High School senior who scored a perfect 2400 on the SAT last year. “I bet I spent about 15-20 hours preparing for the SAT,” he said.

What Peterson doesn’t mention is that he loves learning and has been taking Advanced Placement classes and doing a lot of homework since sophomore year.

Park Senior High School

There is such a diverse range of students at Park High School. One can find people from all types of groups, backgrounds, and personalities. The students at Park High School are focused on academics, activities and sports. A great deal of school pride exists- people are always sporting their green Park apparel and go all out at pepfests and sports games.

VIDEO -- First in the family: Navigating college without a compass

Being the first in your family to go to college means entering an uncharted world. There is help around for first-generation students, but as for all college students, there are many ways to get off course quickly: academically, financially, socially. Some don’t make it through.

Saint Paul Academy and Summit School

SPA is a competitive school where students value learning. There are a lot of workaholics, but a lot of laid-back students as well. Students are opinionated and thoughtful, but sometimes very cynical.

Starting from behind: Going to college sometimes means catching up

This is my last semester at Normandale Community College, where I am going to be the first in my family to graduate with an associate degree.

Next year, I plan to continue my studies at the University of Minnesota. I have a B average, but getting here hasn’t been easy for me.

Letter to my high-school self: There's no coasting in college

I regret to inform you that despite what you think, you do not have it all figured out.

Sure, you’re a good writer. And your 3.5 GPA isn’t too shabby. Sure, you’re going to graduate high school with honors and get a full-tuition scholarship.

Adjusting to College

For high school seniors, May is the time to choose a college and start making plans for next fall. From roommates to classes, the adjustment can be a challenge.

This month, ThreeSixty writers offer lessons they’ve learned about making the jump to college without falling on their faces.

Working with deaf toddler teaches passion and love


Starting fresh: an inside look at fresh-started schools in Minneapolis

In ThreeSixty’s March issue, teen reporters from around the Twin Cities investigated what impact the federal No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 was having at their schools. We thought the package important enough to repost it in our April issue.

Two schools — Edison and Washburn High Schools — were fresh-started, which means all their teachers were fired and had to reapply for jobs. More than 60 percent of teachers at Washburn are new.

These fresh-starts happened because student test scores on the Minnesota Comprehensive Assessment test, or MCA, weren’t high enough for a number of years. Many other schools in the Twin Cities aren’t making the grade too.

ThreeSixty covers this story from all angles — find out what you need to know about fresh-starting.

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