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Minneapolis North High Is On A Major Rebound

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) -- It is the first week back to school in Minneapolis, and there is a buzz about North High School that's all good.

The school had just 62 students enrolled five years ago, and there was talk of shutting it down -- but the community fought back.

More than 400 students are enrolled at North High this year. A mix of academics and athletics is making the school an attractive option.

North students were getting on buses to go across town for school two years ago. But they're walking through the doors of a school this year that is right in their own neighborhood.

"So far, the third day we have over 373 students that have reported to school," said Principal Shawn Harris-Berry.

She says parents now see North High as a school with strong academics, smaller class sizes and two academies: one for arts and communications, and the other for science, technology, engineering and math.

North High School Classroom
(credit: CBS)

"I have hired experts. Not only are they experts, but they know how to build relationships with kids," Harris-Berry said.

Those relationships helped 64 students graduate last year, and 90 percent of those graduates applied for college.

Dr. Harris-Berry believes the success of its athletic program -- first in the state in basketball and second in football -- has also helped rebuild the school.

She says some of the highest academic performers at North are part of Coach Larry McKenzie's basketball program.

"The academic success along with the athletic success is what's really turned North High around," McKenzie said.

He says North High's success is good for students and the community alike.

"In light of some of the challenges that's happened in the community over the last couple of years, north Minneapolis needed this, you know what I'm saying?" McKenzie said. "I mean, they needed the success of the football program, they needed, you know, what we were able to do as a basketball program."

North High School will graduate students from both of it's academies in 2020.

Both the basketball and football coaches say keep an eye out this year, because their student athletes are better prepared than ever to win.

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