Change Can Happen

By Naomi Dillon

Humboldt Senior High is like many urban schools. Its building is old, almost 100 years in some parts. Its student body is diverse -- 41 percent African American, 20 percent Latino, 19 percent Asian, and 40 percent English language learners. And its academic challenges are high -- less than a third of 10th-graders possess solid reading skills.

What’s most typical about this St. Paul, Minn., school are its cliques. Differentiated often by language, culture, or interests, students filter into a myriad of social subgroups -- and usually stay there. Stratified and segmented, Humboldt’s informal hierarchal system is a reflection of American society, where shifting demographics have created new realities while reinforcing old stereotypes.

But things can change.

Last year, Humboldt and the surrounding community became a model of solidarity, rallying behind an event that hadn’t occurred in decades: The boys’ soccer team was on a winning streak.

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