North Community High School

North Community High School, or simply Minneapolis North, is a four-year comprehensive public high school located in Minneapolis, Minnesota, United States. The school has existed for over 120 years in several buildings all located on the North Side of Minneapolis. North once had a predominately Jewish student body but by 1982, the school and the neighborhood it is located in had become mostly African-American.[2] Desegregation efforts, such as magnet school programs, have attempted to attract students from throughout Minneapolis and nearby suburbs.[2]

North Community High School
Aerial view of the school
1500 James Ave North


United States
Coordinates44°59′39″N 93°18′03″W / 44.99418°N 93.3007°W / 44.99418; -93.3007Coordinates: 44°59′39″N 93°18′03″W / 44.99418°N 93.3007°W / 44.99418; -93.3007
TypePublic secondary
Established1888; 133 years ago (1888)
School districtMinneapolis Public Schools
PrincipalMauri Melander Friestleben
Teaching staff71.10 (FTE)[1]
Enrollment447 (2018-19)[1]
Student to teacher ratio6.29[1]
Color(s)Royal Blue and White    
AthleticsMinneapolis City Conference

In recent years, the school has been known for its boys' and girls' basketball programs. Both teams have had numerous state tournament appearances and state championship titles. North offers several college preparatory classes and operates, Minneapolis Public Schools' radio station, KBEM-FM.[3] The school has often struggled academically in terms of graduation rate and state standardized tests.[4] and suggestions by a Minneapolis City Council member to burn the school down.[5]


There have been four separate buildings in which North has operated. The first housed just three grades when North opened in 1888. Three years later the first class graduated in 1891.[6] The building grew to be too small for the school and a new building was built, opening in 1896 at a new location. On June 18, 1913 a fire burned down most of the building, forcing a new building to be rebuilt. A new building was built over the destroyed one and was completed in 1914.[7] Later additions were added in 1921, 1923 and 1939.[8] In 1963 it was determined that for the building was "to be retained as a secondary educational facility over a long period of time by the Minneapolis Public School system, it needs extensive rehabilitation and modernization to meet present day health, safety and educational adequacy.".[8] A new building was built on a new site and funded as part of a $18 million bond referendum in 1964, that funded improvements to North and several other Minneapolis public schools. The building was finished and opened in 1973.[9][10] The building is described as "resembling a giant bunker with few windows, double doors that are often locked from outside during the day to keep out unwanted visitors and painted-over graffiti on outside walls."[11] Another description calls it a "series of brick boxes arranged around a courtyard" that "doesn't allow it to connect well with the community".[12] The building used to house adult education classes, a school for teenage mothers and a separate charter school, Dunwoody Academy.[13][14] All of these programs have now relocated to other buildings.

The second building (1896-1913) to house North
The third building (1914-1973) which was built over the previous structure.

As the North Side neighborhood has changed, so has Minneapolis North. During the 1920s and 1930s the North Side was the center of Minneapolis' Jewish population.[15] In 1936 almost half of the students were Jewish.[16] The North Side has since transitioned into a diverse working-class neighborhood with the highest rate of housing foreclosures in Minneapolis.[17] North used to be a very large school and was overcrowded with over 2800 students attending the school in 1931.[18] Now, residents are able to choose which schools they attend, and as a result only about half of the North Side's students attend local schools such as North.[19] The Minneapolis Public Schools Board of Education's decision to close several North Side middle and elementary schools led to North's enrollment plummeting from 1,143 students in 2004-05 to 265 students in 2010. On October 11, 2010 Minneapolis Public Schools Superintendent Bernadeia Johnson recommend to the Board of Education the phasing out of North High Community High School beginning the 2011-12 school year.[20][21] However, this decision resulted in backlash from the North Minneapolis community. It was decided that North Community High School would remain open, but change its curriculum standards to focus more on arts and communications. It is now called North Academy of Arts and Communications (NAAC).

Student bodyEdit

In the 2006-2007 school year, 964 students attended North. North's minority enrollment has grown in the last twenty years despite attempts to keep it low.[2] In 1987 North's minority enrollment was 46%.[22] Minority enrollment continued to grow, becoming over 60% in 1991.[23] Today, only three percent of students are white, with the majority of students, 69%, being black.[4] Currently, 82% of students qualify for free or reduced priced lunch, an indicator of poverty. 16% of the students had limited English proficiency and 22% of students qualified for special education.[4]


During the 2012–2013 school year and with its inaugural class of freshman, North Academy of Arts and Communication (NAAC), began as a small college preparatory school.

North's framework is based on the Seven Guiding Principles of the Institute for Student Achievement (ISA):[24]

  1. College Preparatory Instructional Program
  2. Dedicated Team of Teachers and Counselor
  3. Distributed Counseling
  4. Continuous Professional Development
  5. Extended School Day and School Year
  6. Family Involvement
  7. Continuous Organizational Improvement

The school has an Advanced Placement program that offers several different courses.[25]

North is slated to open a second academy in the fall of 2016: N-STEM (North Academy of Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) which is an iteration of the school's successful Summatech program which was closed in 2007.[26]

North's low academic results have led to criticism. In February 2007 Minneapolis City Council member Don Samuels suggested burning North down. "My children will not darken the door of a Minneapolis public school in this city at this time under these conditions. I've said burn North High School down! I can't be paying as a taxpayer for the education of my neighbors and 72 percent of them are failing—meaning black boys. Something worse than vouchers could come along. If it works, if it sacrifices the entire school system, fine! Get rid of the damn thing! It hasn't worked!"[27] His suggestion caused uproar in the community, and his remarks were heavily criticized.[28][29][30] Samuels later apologized for the "extreme language" but stated that he did not regret making the comments.[5]

Radio stationEdit

North High School is home to KBEM-FM, a radio station owned by the Minneapolis Public Schools. The station signed on the air in October, 1970, and moved to North in 1983 when the Minneapolis Area Vocational Technical Institute, where the station had been located from its launch (as Vocational High School), closed and the building sold. Students are responsible for much of the station's operation, and 35 hours of airtime a week is devoted to student programming. Approximately 150 students are involved in the radio station's operation, with the majority attending North.[3] Students typically enroll in the program as ninth-graders and are prepared for on-air duties by their junior or senior year.[31]

The station broadcasts traffic reports for the Minneapolis-Saint Paul metro area with data provided by the Minnesota Department of Transportation. From 1989 to 2005, the station was paid approximately $400,000 by the DOT for this service.[32] MnDOT had planned to cancel the contract, but due to public demand the state continued the relationship.[33][34]

Extracurricular activitiesEdit

North offers a variety of musical programs. A beginning band, concert band, Jazz ensemble and drum line are offered. Choir, varsity choir, vocal ensembles and a gospel choir are available.[25] Other extracurricular activities include a variety of academic competitions, a chess club, culture-specific clubs including an award winning Asian Club,[35] debate and mock trial teams, a school newspaper and yearbook, science club and student government. North's Math team competes in the Minnesota State High School Mathematics League. The school has a chapter of National Honor Society.[25]


North Side High School varsity football team

North is a member of the Minnesota State High School League.[36] North offers eleven boys' and twelve girls' varsity sports.[37] These include football (boys), wrestling (boys), tennis (boys and girls), basketball (boys and girls), baseball (boys), softball (girls), golf (boys and girls), soccer (boys and girls), volleyball (girls), swimming (boys and girls), gymnastics (girls), badminton (girls), ice hockey (boys and girls), cross country (boys and girls) and track and field (boys and girls). North has Adapted Bowling.[38] Both boys' and girls' teams are called "Polars". All of the sports teams participate, like all public high schools in Minneapolis, in the Minneapolis City Conference. North has won the state title in Boys' Track and Field in 1943 and 1948.


The boys' basketball team was dominant in the 1980s. Coached by Tony Queen, the team won eight of ten Minneapolis City Conference championships and went to the state tournament eight times, winning in 1980 and placing second in 1984 and 1985.[39] In 1988 Queen was suspended from coaching for one year following attempts to recruit basketball players, which is illegal under Minnesota State High School League rules.[40][41] He lost a battle to be rehired in U.S. District court.[42] Queen was fired in 1990 for having sex with a student in the early1980s.[43][44] In the mid-1990s the boys' team had a dominating resurgence. Led by Khalid El-Amin, North tied a state record with three state championships in a row, from 1995 to 1997.[45] The boys' teams have also won championships in 2003, 2016, and 2017.

The girls' team went to the state title game every year except for one from 1997 to 2005. They won in 1998, 1999, and had three straight wins in 2003, 2004 and 2005.[46][47]

Notable alumniEdit


  1. ^ a b c "NORTH ACADEMY SENIOR HIGH". National Center for Education Statistics. Retrieved May 11, 2020.
  2. ^ a b c d Tomson, Ellen (September 25, 1988), "PRINCIPAL WENT TO SCHOOL OF HARD KNOCKS//HERITAGE IS STRENGTH", Saint Paul Pioneer Press
  3. ^ a b Mission Statement Archived 2007-12-21 at the Wayback Machine KBEM-FM.
  4. ^ a b c Report Card Information North Senor High Archived 2010-05-24 at the Wayback Machine Minnesota Department of Education
  5. ^ a b Collins, Terry (February 3, 2007) "Samuels refuses to back down on North - The City Council member, who has said the high school should be burned, apologized for the language but not for his critique of the school's performance." Star Tribune
  6. ^ Alexander. Dave (February 25, 1988) "Younger North High graduates keep alumni group on move" Star Tribune
  7. ^ Historic images of North High School Minnesota Historical Society
  8. ^ a b North Senior High School: Planning for the Future Archived 2011-07-24 at the Wayback Machine August 1, 1963 History of Minneapolis Public Schools
  9. ^ Smetanka, Mary Jane (February 25, 1987) "Green says city may need more schools" 7B Star Tribune
  10. ^ Building History Archived 2002-12-02 at the Wayback Machine Minneapolis North High Alumni
  11. ^ Lewin, Rhoda (2001) The Jewish Community of North Minneapolis Arcadia Publishing pg. 121 ISBN 0-7385-0817-9
  12. ^ Millett, Larry (2007). AIA Guide to the Twin Cities: The Essential Source on the Architecture of Minneapolis and St. Paul. Minnesota Historical Society Press. p. 298. ISBN 0-87351-540-4.
  13. ^ Releford, Patrice (December 2, 2008), "school to share Minneapolis public school space " Star Tribune
  14. ^ Shah Allie (October 11, 2010) "Angry, sad over North High's decline[permanent dead link] Star Tribune
  15. ^ Grossman, Max From Washington Avenue to Plymouth Avenue Accessed: February 1, 2008
  16. ^ Lewin, Rhoda (2001) The Jewish Community of North Minneapolis Arcadia Publishing pg. 18 ISBN 0-7385-0817-9
  17. ^ Horsley, Scott (May 23, 2007) Foreclosures Hit Hard in Minneapolis Neighborhood National Public Radio
  18. ^ Fire Protection Engineering Report March 1 1931 Archived 2011-07-24 at the Wayback Machine History of MPS Facilities
  19. ^ Hawkins, Beth (November 16, 2007) North Minneapolis schools face crisis of confidence
  20. ^ Unknown(October 11, 2010) Superintendent Johnson to recommend phasing out of North Community High School Archived 2011-07-16 at the Wayback Machine, Minneapolis Public Schools
  21. ^ Denko, Paul (June 20, 2007) The Outsiders Archived 2011-05-29 at the Wayback Machine City Pages
  22. ^ Smith, Dane (March 14, 1987) "North's magnet classes draw Perpich's praise" 11B Star Tribune
  23. ^ Smetanka, Mary Jane (January 8, 1991) "Minorities now are majority in Minneapolis Public Schools" Star Tribune
  24. ^ "ISA | School Transformation | High School Reform". Institute for Student Achievement. Retrieved 2015-10-18.
  25. ^ a b c School Choice Data Archived 2006-10-09 at the Wayback Machine Minneapolis Public School
  26. ^ Summatech Archived 2005-05-05 at the Wayback Machine Minneapolis High Schools' Choice Center
  27. ^ The Great Black Hope? Archived 2007-02-05 at the Wayback Machine Mpls St. Paul Magazine
  28. ^ Tan, Mary (February 7, 2007) Activists Speak Out Against City Leader's Comments Archived 2008-06-15 at the Wayback Machine WCCO-TV
  29. ^ (February 15, 2007) Samuels Under Fire at North High KMSP-TV
  30. ^ Volpe, Trisha (February 2, 2007) Group calls for resignation of Minneapolis city councilman KARE-11 News
  31. ^ Blake, Laurie (April 13, 1989) "Minneapolis students will broadcast traffic reports" 3B Star Tribune
  32. ^ Rybak, Deborah Caulfield (March 9, 2005) "KBEM reaches an agreement with MnDOT" 3B Star Tribune
    Gutknecht, Kevin (January 5, 2005) "Mn/DOT ends KBEM contract, traffic reporting" Minnesota Department of Education
  33. ^ "KBEM continues partnership with Department of Transportation". July 2006. Archived from the original on October 13, 2006. Retrieved 2008-01-31.
  34. ^ "Minnesota Department of Transportation - Office of Maintenance - Partnerships". Archived from the original on 2004-02-16. Retrieved 2008-01-31.
  35. ^ McNiff, Tim (January 14, 2008) To Kochul Thao, education and community are a priority KARE-11
  36. ^ Minneapolis North Community H.S. Minnesota State High School League
  37. ^ Athletics Archived 2013-06-22 at the Wayback Machine North Community High School
  38. ^ History of Adapted Bowling at North Archived 2008-01-25 at the Wayback Machine North Community High School
  39. ^ Pate, Eric T. (March 12, 1992) "Glory of `80s is long gone for North - Polars yearn for return to top echelon" 9C Star Tribune
  40. ^ Augustoviz, Roman (May 13, 1988) "Queen loses North basketball job" 1C Star Tribune
  41. ^ Fermoyle, Mike (May 13, 1988) "NORTH SUSPENDS QUEEN FOR PLAYER RECRUITMENT" Sports 5D Saint Paul Pioneer Press
  42. ^ Dalglish, Lucy (July 28, 1988) "NORTH HIGH COACH LOSES BID FOR REINSTATEMENT" Saint Paul Pioneer Press
  43. ^ Gendler, Neal (February 14, 1990) "Ex-coach fired on ground that he had had sex with a student" 1B Star Tribune
  44. ^ (February 15, 1990) "ACCUSED MINNEAPOLIS TEACHER IS FIRED AFTER YEAR'S SUSPENSION" Metro 2D Saint Paul Pioneer Press
  45. ^ Taylor, Kimberly Hayes (March 24, 1997) "Emotion replaces pressure as North celebrates another basketball crown" 1B Star Tribune
  46. ^ Schmid, Pam (March 13, 2005), "GIRLS' BASKETBALL 3A CHAMPIONSHIP - Polars persevere - North girls claim third consecutive state title", Star Tribune
  47. ^ Lissimore, Lisa (March 6, 2005), "State Girls' Basketball Tournament Minneapolis North Community, Hopkins return to defend 2004 titles; Seven teams making first appearances", Minnesota State High School League
  48. ^ GALLAGHER, William James, (1875 - 1946) Biographical Directory of the United States Congress
  49. ^ WIER, Roy William, (1888 - 1963) Biographical Directory of the United States Congress
  50. ^ Furst, Randy (August 18, 1986) "Floyd B. Olson / Governor died 50 years ago" 15A Star Tribune
  51. ^ Mitchell, Corey (October 9, 2010). "End of an era in north Minneapolis?". Star Tribune. Archived from the original on October 13, 2010. Retrieved October 10, 2010.
  52. ^ Polar Alumni G Archived 2008-06-16 at the Wayback Machine Minneapolis North High Alumni
  53. ^ Polar Alumni A-C Archived 2008-06-16 at the Wayback Machine Minneapolis North High Alumni
  54. ^ Polar Alumni H to Hol Archived 2008-06-16 at the Wayback Machine Minneapolis North High Alumni
  55. ^ D-F Archived 2008-06-16 at the Wayback Machine Minneapolis North High Alumni
  56. ^ Shefchik, Rick (May 15, 1988) "MORNING GLORY \ KQ'S TOM BARNARD HITS THE BIG TIME" 1D St. Paul Pioneer Press
  57. ^ Riemenschneider, Chris (January 27, 2006) "Rock 'n' Roll High Schools Archived 2011-06-07 at the Wayback Machine" Star Tribune
  58. ^ Justin, Neal (2019-04-08). "Minneapolis actor is a hit on Fox's sci-fi series 'The Orville'". Star Tribune. Minneapolis-St.Paul. Retrieved 2020-08-20.

External linksEdit