Empowering Change: Renaming Schools, MPS Leadership Update, and LISC Twin Cities’ 35-Year Milestone

This week’s edition covers stories 
from November 16th to November 22nd, 2023.

Today’s issue is 630 words, a 4-minute read.

Mateo talks renaming of Patrick Henry High, MSP welcoming a new superintendent, and LISC Twin Cities’ 35-Year Anniversary Celebration

Hey readers, Mateo here. First and foremost, Happy Thanksgiving! I hope you can find some time to reflect on the year we have all had so far. As we gather with friends and family to share in the warmth of the season, let’s embrace the spirit of gratitude. Amidst the hustle and bustle, let’s take a moment to appreciate the moments of joy, the lessons learned, and the strength we’ve discovered within ourselves. I am extremely grateful for the growth I have experienced and the opportunities that I have earned throughout the past year. What are you grateful for?

As a former Minneapolis Public Schools student, I love to keep up with the happenings inside and around the district year after year. Dating back to when I was in high school, students at Patrick Henry High School in North Minneapolis have expressed a desire to change the name of the school. Patrick Henry, whom it is named after, was a known slave owner. Because of this, students have long felt that the name does not represent the school and community in a correct and respectful manner. In 2018, Patrick Henry alumni pushed back on any name change attempts, leading to further delay in the process. Finally, in 2022, MPS Board unanimously decided to rename the school. 

Patrick Henry students Davontae White-Sledge, left, and Jeremie Niyonkuru took part in the renaming effort 📸 Leila Navidi | Star Tribune 

Since then, students at Henry have formed a name change committee called “#WhatsMyName”, and have conducted community outreach, held discussions, and even tallied votes to narrow down the list of potential names. Following ranked voting, they narrowed the list down to five names. Of those five names, one name came out victorious: Camden High School. Camden is also the name of the neighborhood where the school is located. MPS Interim Superintendent Rochelle Cox made the official honorary recommendation following the community voting, and there will now be a vote to officially change the name at the upcoming Minneapolis Board of Education meeting in December. Following a decision, school board members will need to decide on branding.

Interim Superintendent Rochelle Cox 📸 StarTribune

On a related note, MPS may be announcing their next superintendent as early as December. Interim Superintendent Rochelle Cox has been leading the charge since Ed Graff stepped down last year. Recently, district officials put together a committee of 17 people, ranging from students and teachers to community members, to go through applications and ultimately recommend a few finalists for the position. Then, the board will conduct interviews in late November before voting on December 1st. 

Earlier this month, Local Initiative Support Corporation (LISC) Twin Cities hosted their 35th anniversary event, celebrating decades of community action and positive outcomes. LISC is one of the largest organizations supporting projects to revitalize communities and bring greater economic opportunity to residents. The host of the event, Jamez Staples, founded Renewable Energy Partners (REP) to promote solar energy and address economic and environmental injustices in his hometown of Minneapolis. REP, supported by various entities, won a contract with the City of Minneapolis to develop a solar garden at North High School for low-income households. Additionally, REP partnered with the University of Minnesota to enhance STEM education in North Minneapolis and create training programs for the growing field of clean energy. 

LISC TC Executive Director giving remarks 📸  Mateo Peralta

Jamez was later part of LISC TC’s 2021 Developers of Color cohort, which led to the acquisition of one of REP’s buildings, the Regional Apprenticeship Training Center (RATC). It was developed in North Minneapolis to provide training for emerging energy-related careers, and hosted LISC TC’s 35th anniversary celebration as its official inaugural event. The event was a surefire success, with a great turnout and a wonderful program of speakers and videos. Congratulations LISC Twin Cities on 35 years of dedication, commitment, and impact!

That’s all from me, we’ll see you next time.


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Hi, friend: Mateo and Isabella here! 
We’re Communications Specialists by day
and tricking turkeys 
by night!

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