A rousing welcome back to school

Shukri Ahmed leads the 3 Strings Guitars
Southwest High School’s Shukri Ahmed leads the 3 Strings Guitars group in a song to kick off Minneapolis Public Schools’ staff assembly on Aug. 14. The group is raising money for an upcoming trip to Florida to perform at the National Association of Music Education convention. Visit tinyurl.com/three-strings-guitars to learn more. Photos by Nate Gotlieb

Hundreds of Minneapolis Public Schools principals, department heads and teacher-leaders celebrated their return to work Aug. 14 during an assembly at Justice Page Middle School.

Staff heard a performance from Southwest High School’s 3 Strings Guitars, a rock band composed of students with cognitive and physical disabilities. They also listened to speeches from Superintendent Ed Graff, at-large school board member Kimberly Caprini, retired Minnesota Supreme Court Justice Alan Page and Ahmed Ali, a nonverbal Minneapolis student who spoke using a piece of computer software he helped develop.

Ahmed Ali
Minneapolis Public Schools graduate Ahmed Ali delivers a speech to educators at the assembly.

“You are the most important people in our country and world,” Ali told the educators.

The assembly came six days before teachers were slated to return to work and nearly three weeks before the first day of school. Schools are slated to hold open houses the week of Aug. 26.

The 3 Strings Guitars
The 3 Strings Guitars entertained the crowd with songs such as “Stars Tonight” by Lady Antebellum and “Walking on Sunshine.”
Ed Graff
Superintendent Ed Graff said the district cannot “accept as reality” the fact that half of black male students don’t graduate on time from several Minneapolis high schools.