My son is a senior at Southwest. He has had an incredible experience at Southwest because of the great leadership (Dr. Bill Smith), great teachers and parents who care so much about this school. We live in the neighborhood and the school is such an anchor for the community. I'm not really pleased with the IB curricula but other than that, I am very pleased with the school and glad my son was able to attend Southwest. If you're looking at Minneapolis schools and trying to decide on the best, I wouldn't hesitate to send my child to this school--he or she will receive a great, well rounded education.
It was okay. My daughter would have done well at any school, however. In regard to the IB program - it is a failure, considering what it is supposed to accomplish vs what AP can accomplish. In the end, they both have the same result. The problem with IB is that you have to actually GET the grad certificate for it to mean anything. And less than 5% do. My daughter's class had 200 IB students - at graduation, 7 of them received their diplomas. When considering the cost of the program, training & time needed to implement, it is, in fact, a failure. On the other hand, my daughter completed one full year of college before she graduated, no thanks to IB. She was in the Arts & Humanity side (when they had one) and she excelled as did many of her classmates. All IB courses were available to her - but so was a huge amount of everything else. She was confined and she was freer to explore her options.
I am responding to comments from another parent. The IB program provides two opportunities. First, classes and exams can be taken for possible college credit, if sufficiently high scores are achieved. IB grades on both coursework and the exam score and I believe it more accurately reflects the student's work, where AP is solely based on the test score. Colleges seem to warming up to IB, but historically like AP better. Students can do a combination of both. Second, IB students can earn an IB Diploma. I do not believe AP offers any opportunity like this - although AP does have different levels of AP Scholars based on how many tests are taken and scores received. Both are good programs, and both are done well at Southwest. As far as the school itself, the physical layout is difficult, especially for the large enrollment. The short passing time between classes, lack of study halls, and tight busing schedule makes it hard for students to socialize during the school day. Kids are very welcome (starting at 6:00am) to come early for activities or to stay late (many activities after school and even into the evening). These are the real social time opportunities.
The Community Ed summer programs that share the campus in the summer are very well organized and run. Although it is not a part of MPS, perse', being there for longer periods of time and considering SW for my 8th grader now did shed some keen parent observations. The school layout itself is haphazard and diced up. A lot of doors meant he need for consistent security measures. Children then, are not able to really mingle and may in part account for the culture of cliques and a sense privilege that is clearly palpable. Children routed here from Lake Harriet Upper /area private schools may feel this is diverse, but really, its not culturally and socioeconomically when compared to the TC we live in. The IB program is misrepresented. It is actually the test at the end of your child 4 years that qualify for college credit - unlike the AP pathway, most do not make it. The IB pathway is much more stressful for the child & families during the already tough years of teenage development and learning. Surprisingly, we actually preferred South! Re: the revised bus zones...Curious... For the east side of the Isles to get MPS bus, but not East Lake Harriet only a stones throw away ?
My husband taught there, one of our children graduated from and now teaches, I've worked there. It's a strong faculty that embraces a broad spectrum of educational opportunities, skills and styles to give students every chance to learn and grow.
I'm recent graduate who attended a highly-ranked east coast liberal arts college after high school. I was as well or better prepared academically as my college classmates who went to very expensive, very well-regarded prep/boarding schools. Southwest introduced me to the 'real world' and helped me learn how to get along with all types of people from all sorts of backgrounds. The teachers and administrators know how to empower students. Many of the teachers are gifted and dedicated (although, like anywhere, there are some duds). Likewise, while Southwest has its share of pettiness and cliques, the friendships I made there were stronger than the ones I made in college, and the people were on the whole much nicer and more accepting than those I've met since. Simply put, although I wasn't 'popular' and did undergo difficult patches, I loved and grew from my experience at SW.
As a graduate of the IB program in 2006, I felt that SouthWest prepped me just as well as the high powered prep school i attened for 9th-11th grades. One might have to be a bit more self motivated, but the teaching staff is superb, the athletics programs are good, and welcoming of all talent, and the student body is vastly diverse and overall of good character. Southwest prepared me well for college, and I am glad to be an alum of this great Minneapolis institution.
Both my daughter and my son attended Southwest Senior High, but for only a few years. Both of them transferred to South High after being constantly harrassed by the student body. They both greatly enjoy South High much better because the students and staff were so much more accepting, and although the school may not be as glamorous as dearly beloved Southwest, it is a much better environment and I am very glad that my children attend a school where someone's individuality is not harrassed, not only by the students, but by the teachers as well, like it clearly was at Southwest. Southwest has been given the reputation as a great school, with a fantastic acedemic program, and this may be true, but i find that the students and staff play a huge role in whether a student is able to learn and succeed, and that wasn't possible at this school.
The best school in the Twin cities as far as I am concerned. I wish I would have been able to attend this school myself.The teacher are great, the athletic department is great. Ryan runs a fabulous program. My daughter is in the Arts and Humanities program and we love it. The kid's are involved in some way with all the activities at the school. Wether it be in a play, sports, science or musicals. Southwest has my highest regaurds. I would not have sent my child to any other school. I know I went through 4 terrible years at South with my oldest child. At southwest you get the respect you deserve from the teachers and the rest of the staff. Thats as a parent and a student. The coaches treat you like an individual, and with the highest respect. I hope that other schools in the metro would learn by example. Kudos to Southwest High school.