School notebook

Blake recognized for AP scores, Southwest student heads to D.C.

Blake leads in AP English

Lowry Hill’s Blake School outperformed all other schools its size in the nation on the Advanced Placement English Literature and Composition exam in 2006.

Of the 385 students on its Upper School campus, 107 scored a 3 or higher on the exam. A score of 3, 4 or 5 on an AP exam will often earn a student college credit.

Upper School Director Marc Bogursky said the results reflect the rigor and high expectations built into the course. Three years ago, Blake made AP English Literature and Composition a required course for all juniors.

“I think it says a lot about our English curriculum,” Bogursky said.

The College Board, which administers the test, rated Blake against other “middle-size” public and private schools with 300-799 students in grades 10-12.

High school student presents project to Congress

A Southwest High School sophomore presented her award-winning National History Day project Feb. 8 to members of Congress in Washington, D.C.

Sophia Naylor, 16, won second place at the 2006 National History Day contest for her 10-minute documentary, “The Minnesota Semi-starvation Experiment: Taking a Stand for Nonviolence and Hunger Relief.”

Naylor said her documentary told the story of conscientious objectors who, during World War II, volunteered to go hungry for a University of Minnesota study. The study’s findings were used to help rehabilitate the malnourished following the war, she said.

Naylor was drawn to the topic of conscientious objection because she is a Quaker and a pacifist. The most exciting part of the project, she said, was meeting and interviewing several of the participants.

Sen. Norm Coleman was among the members of Congress who saw Naylor speak about her project during a breakfast seminar. Naylor later visited the office of Sen. Amy Klobuchar and met with Rep. Keith Ellison and Rep. Tim Walz.

“I am so proud of Sophia,” Ellison said in an e-mail. “Tomorrow’s leaders are often drawn from our nation’s social studies programs and her winning National History Day project is only an example of the potential to be tapped if we invest wisely in our students.”

Minneapolis skiers have best finish ever

A cooperative Minneapolis alpine ski team that draws skiers from several Southwest schools had its best finish ever this year, with the boys taking third place in the state tournament Feb. 15 at Giant’s Ridge in Biwabik.

“It’s a huge milestone for the kids,” said Mark Conway, president of Minneapolis Alpine Ski Team (MAST). “They gained a lot of experience going to state.”

Southwest High School senior Patrick Conway earned the team’s best individual finish, taking second place in the slalom competition.

MAST is a nonprofit and does not receive funding from Minneapolis Public Schools. The team relies on volunteer coaches, donations and off-season fundraising to compete.

Team members come from Washburn, South and Southwest high schools, as well as several area middle schools.

Head Coach Phil McClure was one of the team’s founding skiers back in 2000. Then a Southwest High School senior, McClure had been lobbying since his freshman year for a varsity alpine ski team.

“We kept pushing and pushing and kept getting ‘No’s from the School Board,” he said.

“We decided to fund it ourselves,” he said. “It was basically our only option at the time.”

To this day, skiers raise much of their funds by serving Dome Dogs at Twins games and sponsoring car washes in the summer. With no activity bus available, skiers carpool to after-school practices at Hyland Hills in Bloomington.

“It really does take a lot of determination even to get to practice for some of these kids,” McClure said.

Patrick Conway said that contributes to a rivalry with better-off suburban ski teams. The urge to prove themselves may have propelled the MAST racers to their first-ever appearance at state, he said.