Against a backdrop of the under-construction Crosstown Concourse, prospective Crosstown High School
(XTH) students, their parents, and XTH board member Michelle McKissack held a press conference on Thursday afternoon to show support for the proposed high school inside the Concourse building.
The nonprofit behind the school, Crosstown High, Inc., has submitted a proposal to Shelby County Schools (SCS) to operate the high school. If approved by SCS, they have a goal of having it open by the 2017-18 school year.
McKissack said the proposed school, which would have an independent board but still fall under the purview of SCS, would differ from more traditional public schools in that each student would have a personalized learning plan and students would interact with employees of the other businesses within the Concourse building as part of their education.
"Our school will be distinguished by its use of project-based learning, in which teams of students working under the guidance and supervision of adult mentors will research real-life community challenges and develop solutions. Students will benefit from relationships with employees of Methodist Healthcare, Church Health Center, ALSAC, Crosstown Arts, Christian Brothers University, and many other Crosstown partners and tenants," McKissack said.
Students would also have two-week long elective courses in areas of their personal interests, such as art, music, athletics, or internships. The school would host a maximum of 500 students in grades 9-12.
"We believe that student potential is found, not only in a test score, but the talents and passions inherent in every individual," McKissack said. "There are so many types of learning, and we're going to be tapping into that here at Crosstown High. From where and how we recruit our students to assuring that our student body reflects the population of Memphis and Shelby County in all ways — raciallly, econonomically, socio-economically, ethnically, and by learning styles and differences."
Memphian Nicole Dorsey attended the press conference with her daughter Vera, who will be starting seventh grade at Colonial Middle School in the fall. Dorsey said she opted to put Vera in Colonial, an optional school, even though they live in Midtown. But if XHS becomes reality, Dorsey said she'd much prefer for Vera to attend school much closer to home.
"As a Midtowner, this gives me another high school option that is equivalent to all the many high schools in East Memphis," Dorsey said. "I'm not a fan of the optional program, but I'm a fan of integrated learning from all levels, which is what this school is hoping to do."
Crosstown High has a new website — crosstownhigh.org
— and more of their plan can be found there.