World-class students and schools

Spring is a great time to be Minneapolis Public Schools superintendent because I have the opportunity to recognize some of our many outstanding students. I want to offer my whole-hearted congratulations to the six students who have recently been selected as Gates Millennium Scholars. These students are among only 1,000 scholars nationwide to receive good-through-graduation college scholarships via the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. They are Fadumo Abdullahi and Abdullahi Ali of Edison High School and Doua Kha, Mai Vang, Soua Chang and Susan Vang of Patrick Henry High School. In addition to financial assistance, Gates Millennium Scholars receive academic support, mentoring and leadership training. As a result, recipients have an average five-year graduation rate of almost 80 percent, 45 percent higher than the six-year rate for all college students.

We’ve also received the first round of announcements (more are scheduled throughout the spring) of National Merit Scholars. Congratulations to Southwest High School students Ashley R. Bielinski, who was awarded the National Merit General Mills Foundation Scholarship, and Christopher J. Riddle, who received the National Merit Siemens Scholarship. Bielinski and Riddle were selected from students who advanced based on their PSAT scores to the finalist level in the competition and met criteria of their scholarship sponsors. Last fall, eight other MPS students were named semifinalists, including Samuel J. Calvit and Tyler Mahony of South High School; and, Isabella N. Dawis, Caroline A. Lauth, Mikayla M. MacNally, Rose E. Milavitz, Ruth L. Styles and Mark B. Ulrich of Southwest High School.

I would also like to personally congratulate the high school staffs of Edison, North,
Washburn and Roosevelt who have worked extremely hard to become our new fully authorized International Baccalaureate schools. Beginning September 2010, they will offer the International Baccalaureate (IB) Diploma Programme, designed to increase all students’ learning with a global perspective. Most colleges and universities award college credit for IB courses or approved IB exam scores.

These schools are already authorized IB Minneapolis high schools, Southwest and Patrick Henry. Anwatin Middle School and Southwest have also received authorization to begin offering the first joint International Baccalaureate Middle Years Programme (IB-MYP) in Minneapolis. We are not only raising the bar but also closing the gap by providing this opportunity to everyone across the city. We have set a new standard for excellence and we intend to achieve it for each of our children.

We made a commitment in our strategic plan to provide increased opportunities and greater access to rigorous coursework for all students throughout our city, regardless of where they live. Other authorized IB programs include Elizabeth Hall International Elementary and Whittier International Elementary (IB Primary Years Programme) and Northeast Middle School (IB Middle Years Programme).

We are proud of the latest achievements at Minneapolis Public Schools and we expect more great things from our schools and our students in the future.

William D. Green is superintendent of Minneapolis Public Schools.