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Beth Reflects on the Blake Exchange for April 30th


Beth Reflects on the Blake High School-Patrick Henry High School Exchange


Read original Star Tribune article on The Blake School Patrick Henry Exchange Program


            On April 9th, 2013, five very open-minded and willing young students from Blake High School made their way through Patrick Henry High School. Of course, we all knew that there would be somewhat of a difference between our schools. Blake High School was a well known, and strongly recognized private school that accepted everyone with high expectations. It was a high school that we, the five students from Patrick Henry High School, would never expect to experience in such a short time, or be given the opportunity to. We were all students who had wanted such a better life, a life that didn’t have everyone spying and patrolling on. As I guided and led my assigned Blake student around our school, a lot of what I did not expect, happened. A lot of their reactions and thoughts of our schools were very positive and exceptional. It was a chance that none of us really thought to have, the chance to hear what the differentiated society thought of our school and community.

            The Thursday that followed, went very similar to what had happened on Tuesday. As I walked across the parking lot and into the Blake High School building with the other four Henry students, everyone was appalled. We glanced at students and their fashion, gazed over the lounges, and even stood glaring at the fact that their art was so much better than ours by almost a mile. It left an impact on me so much so that I continued to ask questions over and over again, trying to pull out as much as I can in knowledge and opinion. As the day went by I continuously realized that life had a way of leaving a strong impression on the few who aimed bigger than what they had. I saw myself in the shoes of the Blake students’ parents working harder, spending more time, giving more effort, and recognizing stronger points in life.

            When I look at the way Blake students live and how Henry students live, I sometimes thought of how students could be looked down on so easily by people around them. How, on one side of the city, students are seen as mature, responsible, young adults. And on the other side, students are seen as constant trouble makers who needed to be watched every time of the day and every day of the week. The life of a Blake High School student was so great, so mesmerizing, that I wanted to be a part of it as well. We walked around, minding our own business, feeling like college students who worked hard at school and did homework on our free time. In more ways than one, I felt envious and angered at the fact that life had to be hard for me before it got easy. “I’ll have to work harder”, I told and thought to myself.

            All day long, I reflected on how every student that attended Henry could be depicted through race and class. That it was that one aspect of every high school student that brought all of us together. The Blake students all took life easily and comfortably grew little by little everyday, never worrying about race and discrimination around them. On the other hand, Henry students, sometimes, gave up on overachieving and setting big goals, some even only looked at what they saw in the next two years or so. There are those, however, that work hard to achieve what’s farther than the reach of their actual goals: to be secure, to hold onto something that others had already been living with. Some of us have to dream bigger to be in that position, where we won’t have to worry about long term hardships and sacrifices.

            Through the Blake students’ eyes, life could be much harder by living up to the expectations of parents, teachers, and the community that looks upon them. They weren’t aware of what was happening under the radar, those who worked hard for things in life that they saw as what they are supposed to be given. An example of that was the topic of Prom, where Henry students had to work hard for a dress and tickets, but Blake students weren’t as worried because their parents took care of it for them. I saw this as a way of recognizing what was happening on the other side of the city and how I would be able to live to watch my children one day working hard independently with no worries.

            This experience was truly one that I would encourage many others to try and enjoy. Go and see for yourself, the life of the opposite society and recognize, like I have, the change that could be made with the effort that you include into your daily life. Setting goals, making effort, and building relationships could easily put you in a life position that is better than what we have now. It will forever stay in my agenda, to build up my courage and make my future the best that I can.