PENROSE – “You look like you too bad to go to Soldan, maybe you need to go to Vashon or Roosevelt,” a Soldan International Studies High School student said Friday in passing to an eighth-grade student at Yeatman Middle School, 4265 Athlone Ave.
That snotty but friendly exchange is an extension of the swaying dialogue used by various area high school reps attempting to attract scholarly middle-school students to their high schools, during the sixth annual Rejuvenation/Recruitment Rally.
Scores of the eighth graders sat cross-legged on the gymnasium floor, listening as the visiting school reps and presenters took their turns on stage to pitch to them.
Schools wooed the young students with everything from stellar academic performance, law and business to a school mascot, complete with such extracurricular options as sports superiority, ROTC, chess, drill teams, pompon squads and cheerleaders.
A choir from Soldan crooned a choral, classically cadenced version of En Vogue’s “Never Gonna Get it,” and “Bills, Bills, Bills,” by Beyonce.
The middle-schoolers clapped, cheered, raised their hands – and sometimes expressed disinterest with silence, folded arms and paying no attention.
Mentioning of “the V,” short for Vashon High School, drew plenty of applause.
“If you a real hooper, you’re gonna wanna come to Vashon, because no one can beat us,” a very confident girls basketball player asserted.
She was joined by the school’s Wolverine mascot and cheerleaders chanting, “It’s going down … don’t mess around … don’t stop – get it, get it!”
A Vashon senior and student organization president said that the school was known for its longtime basketball prowess and other sports, plus ROTC. She noted that “the V” was the only full-service community high school in the St. Louis Public Schools district.
Yeatman, too, is a full-service community school. (The others are Oakhill and Walbridge elementaries.)
A football player from Vashon, who had graduated from Yeatman, touted brotherhood at Vashon. He told the students that one of the high school’s graduates had played at Mizzou and had gone on to the NFL.
Northwest Academy of Law High School reps told the students of offerings beyond law: classes in business, social justice, discipline and student government, complete with national competitions and annual field trips to Washington and New York. The reps also touted its teaching of cosmetology, culinary arts, yoga and chess.
“It’s been cool. My high school has some very smart kids,” one student said, adding that when he “went in I was going to be alone, but the teachers really care about you and put in an effort.”
Another Yeatman grad and current student at the law-focused high school said: “I’m a senior and I have all of my credits, and I have colleges looking at me.”
Before introducing the next school, a Yeatman administrator (and Yeatman’s Full Service School coordinator), Melissa Nash, used the student’s remarks as a teaching moment.
“You have to have a certain amount of credits. … The student has all of his credits, which means he will be graduating in May,” Nash pointed out.
Soldan International Studies High School academic and career advisor Briana Dalton also took advantage of the teaching moment.
She asked the students how many had post-secondary plans, and many raised their hands. Then Dalton told them to develop good study habits, talk to counselors and mentors, do their homework and ask teachers for help in studying for tests.
“Those are things that you need to do in high school, but even after high school,” Dalton advised. “You also need to do your best in your subjects.”
She continued, “The last thing I need you to figure out in order to know what you want to do when you get out of get out of high school and become a grownup is to ask your parents, aunts, uncles … ask your people around you – family, teachers – what they had to do to get the jobs that they have.”