MINNEAPOLIS - Isaac Johnson is a proud senior and basketball player at North High School.
School officials say he is the face of the new North.
The school is celebrating a 81.5 percent graduation rate, which is an increase of more than 39 percent over the last two years.
In the district overall, more than 67 percent of Minneapolis students graduated within four years, the highest four-year graduation rate in a decade.
North High School is known for its athletics. Recently it won the Class A State Championship in Boys Basketball.
However, North has also been known for declining enrollment and poor test scores, and alumni and the community have fought the idea of closing the school.
Back in 2010, school officials told KARE 11 the school was on the brink of shutting down.
"The superintendent is going to recommend phasing out the North High School program over the next few years,” a district spokesperson said in 2010.
From 2004 to 2010, North’s enrollment went from 1,100 kids to under 300 kids in the entire school.
That number has gone up and down throughout the years, but school officials say it seems to be leveling out.
New Minneapolis Public Schools Superintendent Ed Graff says a new program that caters to each student's needs is a big reason for the success.
"What we've been doing specifically is ‘On-Track’ program,'" Graff said. "We take information of freshman students and really closely monitor that, making sure they are on track to graduate on time."
He says MPS’ “On-Track” system has shown a significant decrease in the number of courses failed by ninth-graders.
"Taking a look at their course failure rates, taking a look at their attendance, any kind of certain challenges they may be having and then put supports on that," Graff said. “And one of the benefits at North right now is that it’s become a smaller learning community where many of the students are known by all their teachers on a first-name basis and they have a real strong personal connection.”
Graff says this year they implemented “On-Track” at all schools.
North High School has a rich history. It has been around for more than a hundred years with alumni like Star Tribune sports columnist Sid Hartman and high school basketball phenom Khalid El Amin.
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