Southwest High School (Minneapolis, Minnesota)

Southwest High School (Minneapolis, Minnesota)
Southwest High School
Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA
Type Public secondary (formerly 7-12)
Motto Inspiring Excellence in Arts and Academics
Established 1940
School district Minneapolis Public Schools
Principal Dr. William Smith
Faculty 75
Grades 9-12
Number of students 1,800
Campus Urban
Mascot Lakers (formerly the Indians)
Newspaper The Anchor (formerly The Southwesterner, The Channel, and The Arrow)
Distinctions Ranked 138th Best High School in the Nation by Newsweek

Southwest High School is a public high school in the Linden Hills neighborhood of Minneapolis, Minnesota (USA). It is part of the Minneapolis Public Schools. In 2010, Newsweek Magazine ranked the school #116 their "List of the 1,300 Top High Schools in America" [1] (2007: #146;[1] 2006: 260;[1] 2005: 296;[1] 2003: 112[1]). The school is a member of the International Baccalaureate Organization and is ranked among the Top 100 IB schools in both North America and the world.[citation needed] The current principal is Dr. Bill Smith.



Ground was broken for Southwest High School on November 12, 1938, at West 47th Street and Chowen Avenue South.[citation needed] The school was a project commissioned by the Public Works Administration and the Minneapolis Board of Education. The original building was built for a cost of $500,000.[citation needed] Southwest opened on September 3, 1940 with Casper C. Minty as its first principal, and a teaching staff of twenty-five. There were three grades that first year, 9-11, with students coming from Washburn, Edina and Richfield. Enrollment for the first year was 841 students, 141 more than expected.[citation needed] Two additions were made to the original structure, the first opening in 1956, and the second (Southwest Junior High School, to the east) in 1968.[citation needed]

The first graduating class, of about 183 students, graduated in 1942.[citation needed] In 1956, with the completion of the first addition, Southwest became a six-year high school, grades 7-12, with an enrollment of 1,400. In 1968, after the second addition, the school was divided into senior and junior high schools with a total enrollment of 2,114, the highest ever.[citation needed]

In 1974, Southwest Senior and Junior High Schools were merged into Southwest Secondary School. With the reorganization of Minneapolis schools in the fall of 1982, Southwest again taught students in grades 9-12, with seventh and eighth graders going to Anwatin or Anthony Middle Schools.[citation needed] Most of the students who attended West High School merged into Southwest when West was closed in 1982.

In 1987, the International Baccalaureate Programme began at Southwest. It steadily has grown since then and now between one-half and one-third of students are involved in IB.[2]

Currently, Southwest offers most students a choice between two Small Learning Communities (SLC's): Arts and Humanities, and the International Baccalaureate Programme, as they work to achieve a diploma. Although in 2006, a new program for deaf and hard of hearing was added. Starting in 2007, the Arts and Humanities program will offer only AP and pre-AP courses.[citation needed]

Mascot change

In 1987, Southwest High School was at the forefront of a debate among academic institutions on whether nicknames, mascots, and logos from Native Americans were appropriate. Phil St. John, a Sioux social worker, led a movement to change Minneapolis school mascots away from Native American images after attending a Southwest High School Basketball game and seeing a student in Indian dress.[citation needed]

The Minneapolis Board of Education ruled that nicknames that perpetuate racial or ethnic stereotypes no longer would be allowed in the city's schools. Southwest voted to change the nickname of the school from the Indians to the Lakers.[3] The debate was featured in Sports Illustrated, leading to similar debates at institutions across the country for the next twenty years.

Extra curricular activities

  • The school newspaper is The Anchor, and is a member of the High School National Ad Network.
  • Admission Possible, a Minneapolis group for juniors and seniors that meets at Southwest
  • Allianza (Latin Leaders), a student-led group that promotes diversity at Southwest
  • Amnesty International
  • Anime Club
  • Baseball
  • Bellydance Club, a student-led dance group that practices the ancient art of Middle Eastern bellydance while keeping the dance form contemporary.
  • Chamber Music
  • Chess Club, which won City, State, and Nationals in 2006, 2007, and 2008
  • Close Up, a national group that leads student trips to Washington, D.C.
  • Debate
  • Elevator Club
  • Gay Straight Alliance
  • Intercambios (Language Club)
  • Maple Tappers Union
  • Jazz Band
  • Southwest Kubb Club
  • Math League
  • Model UN
  • Mosaic (student literary magazine)
  • National Honor Society
  • Project Success
  • Quiz Bowl/Knowledge Bowl
  • Robotics
  • Southwest Singers
  • Speech Team
  • Student Council
  • Ultimate Frisbee (MÜS)
  • Upward Bound
  • Unhinged Theatre
  • Second Act Theatre
  • Yearbook



Southwest currently has two major bands: Concert Band and Wind Ensemble; both under the direction of band director Keith Liuzzi. Concert Band consists mostly of freshmen and sophomores with a few upperclassmen. Wind Ensemble is the reverse with mostly upperclassmen and few underclassmen and is an auditioned ensemble.[citation needed]

Southwest also has two smaller bands made up of all band students. Marching Band routinely plays in the yearly Holidazzle Parade, the Minnesota State Fair, as well as other parades. Pep Band performs at sporting events, school events, and other such activities. Other musical groups include the Chamber Orchestra, Jazz Band, Orchestra (a mixture of wind and string instruments), and a Pit Orchestra that plays during musicals and plays.[citation needed]

Southwest High School has many opportunities for students to be involved in vocal music with many choirs, some requiring an audition and some not. Some of such unauditioned groups include Concert Choir, World Music, and Treble Choir/Men’s Choir, each one open to all students. The Southwest Singers, however, is an auditioned group that performs in events and concerts all around Minneapolis and it is open to all students. A smaller ensemble, the Southwest Chamber Singers, is an auditioned group among the Southwest Singers.[citation needed]


Southwest has a number of dance companies available for students of all ages and talents. The easiest dance company, Beginner Dance, is mainly to help students choreograph their own creations, learn the capabilities of their bodies, and learn dance as an art form (Modern, ballet, jazz), as a cultural form (African, tap, Dances of Mexico), and as a social/recreational form (swing, social, and folk dance).[citation needed]

The next companies, Dance Company One/IB Dance and Dance Company Two, mainly add and branch off the lessons in Beginner Dance, focusing on technique, elements of dance, and learning new knowledge of choreographic principles.[citation needed]

The fourth dance company, New Moves, mainly focuses on the health of the physical body through nutrition, yoga, and different exercises.[citation needed]

Visual Arts

Southwest High School also offers students to express themselves through forms of visual art, including painting, drawing, stenciling, and other art forms. Currently, Ben Zhao and Cecily Spano teach Visual Art.[citation needed]


Southwest also offers a strong theatre program that puts on annual plays and musicals as well as a theatre company called Unhinged Theatre Company. More recent productions include South Pacific, Grease, and 42nd Street, and Les Misérables.[citation needed]


Different sports have succeeded and reached the Minnesota State High School League post season competitions in recent years.[citation needed]


With one of the biggest rivalries in the city against South High School, the soccer program at Southwest High School has a reputation for being one of the most competitive teams in the state. Fans gather each year for Soccer Saturday, an all-day event ending with the boys’ and girls’ varsity game. Fans have been known to be rowdy at South/Southwest matches. In 2006, the Southwest soccer team beat Edina in section finals to advance to State, where they took fourth place. Throughout the season, Southwest was consistently ranked among the top five teams in Minnesota as ranked by the Coaching Alliance.[citation needed]

In October 2010, the varsity soccer team was undefeated for the season with only two goals against them. The Lakers entered the section class AA tournament ranked second and after beating Moundsview, they advanced to State quarterfinals at the Metrodome in downtown Minneapolis. The team came out victorious against the Stillwater Ponies and advanced to the State Final championship in November 2010 against number one ranked Apple Valley. However, the Lakers lost the game with an upset of 3-0. The Lakers ended the 2010 season as second in state and first in their section.


Hockey has been a staple among the Southside schools for many years and Southwest has always been one of the major contenders in this sport. Southwest won the High School Boys State Championship in hockey in 1970. In 2006, the Minneapolis Public Schools hockey program was reorganized and Southwest hockey players began playing on the newly formed Minneapolis West hockey team alongside students from Minneapolis North, Patrick Henry, and Washburn High Schools. The West team finished the season with a record of 10-15-2. In the 2007-2008 season the team was renamed the Minneapolis West Mustangs and compiled a 13-10-2 record. The Minneapolis West Mustangs in the 2008-2009 season won one game and lost twenty-six. In the 2009-2010 season, West won nine games while losing eighteen. West eventually was eliminated in the section playoffs by eventual State runner-up Minnetonka. In 2010, West merged with East to form only one hockey team in the city of Minneapolis. In May 2010, Shawn Reid was named the head coach of the combined Minneapolis Varsity Team, now called the Novas.

Swimming and Diving

While swimming at Southwest was at its peak in the 1970s, during the past six years swimming has begun to rise once again. In the 2001-2002 season, five men's swimming records were broken. In the 2005-2006 season, two women's records were broken, and the men's team took second place in true team sectionals, and captured the Twin City Championship for the first time in forty-five years. In the 2007-2008 season, four women's records and four men's records were broken, the men won the Twin City Championship once again, and one woman and three men went on to compete at State.[citation needed]

In 2009-2010, the men's team broke both free relay school records, sent two individuals to state, two relays to state, 200 free relay swam the second day, placed third at True Team Sections, fourth at Varsity Sections, Twin City Champions, and Conference Champions.

Nordic Skiing

The Nordic team began in the 1976-1977 season as coached by Joan McNaughton. Before retiring from coaching after the 2001-02 season, she sent four girls’ teams, twenty-five individuals, and one men’s relay team to State competitions. Since 2003, English teacher James Dundon, has coached the team to many city and section championships. Kate Ellis has been the team’s assistant coach since 2003 as well. Southwest has produced a number of skiers who have gone on to compete nationally and internationally, including U.S. Biathlon Team Member Jacob Beste. In 2007, the girl's Nordic team won its section and advanced on to get fourth at state. In 2008, they finished second in the State. The 2007 team was ranked first in the state for both the boys’ and girls’ teams. Both teams advanced to the state meet, the boys getting second and the girls getting fourth, and Libby Ellis getting second for the second year.[citation needed]

Alpine Skiing

Alpine Skiing has brought recent success to Southwest. In the 2005-2006 season, junior Patrick Conway took the state individual championship for Southwest. In the 2006-2007 season, junior Brad West took fourth place individually.[citation needed]

Ultimate Frisbee

Currently known as the MÜS (Moose Ultimate Southwest) the Southwest Frisbee team was a founding team of the Twin Cities High School Ultimate League in 2002. The team has placed no worse than 9th in state over the past four years, taking 6th in state during the 2011 season.


The Southwest Tennis team has been successful in the past few years. They finished third in the 2003 AA State Finals. South and Southwest High Schools are usually the top contenders for the Minneapolis championship, Southwest winning that title in 2003, 2005, 2006, and 2007. In the fall of 2007, the Varsity team won the Twin Cities championship for the first time since 2003.[citation needed]


Southwest is part of the Southside Barbarians Rugby Club. Southside has won four state titles, 2006, 2008, 2010 and 2011 and has produced many division one college players.


Bellydance Club

This thriving dance club was created in 2007 by Isabel Hart-Andersen and Emily Cochrane. The current leaders are Katie Martin and Zoe Lancrete. They perform in Southwest High School's Winter and Spring dance concerts, as well as put on their own shows.

Quiz Bowl/Knowledge Bowl

Mrs. Stephanie Wegner currently runs the Southwest Knowledge Bowl team. They are currently scoring highly in league and extra-league meets. The team also took second in the 2009 WorldQuest Competition at the University of Minnesota.

Elevator Club

Founded in 2011 by Phillip Timmons, Maya Powell, Hannah Skibbe, Drew Chapman and Caleb Likely, the Southwest High School Elevator Club meets once a week for a communal elevator ride. One hundred and thirty two students have signed up for the new activity, although it is one of the least popular, and most pointless, clubs in the school.

Math Team

One hundred and eight students participated in math team this last year led by coach, David McMayer. After finishing tied for thirty-fourth place in the state rankings a year before, the team made some serious improvements this year, finishing in twelfth place overall out of one hundred seventy-three participating schools. The team looks to be as strong or stronger next year.

In the 2009-2010 season, Southwest ranked eighth in the regular season, and sixth at the state tournament. Jason Paller-Rzepka finished the season with sixty-eight out of seventy possible points, placing third out of three thousand six hundred individual students in the regular season. Rose Milavitz finished the season with sixty-one out of seventy possible points, placing fourteenth individually.

Math Competitions

David McMayer, Southwest Mathematics teacher, organizes teams and participants for a variety of contests during the year. Fifty-eight students participated in the AMC exam. One student, Nate Pasmanter, qualified for the AIME exam. Six students competed at Concordia Math Day, with one of the teams of three students winning first place with a lengthy romp through the consolation bracket and back-to-back wins over a previously undefeated team. Twenty-one students participated in the Power Contest, brainchild of an ARML head coach.

The following year, 2010, Southwest became the only team to have two consecutive first place wins at the Concordia Math Day tournament.


Southwest High School has a strong tradition in Speech, being the only Minneapolis school to compete has made Southwest the de facto representative of Minneapolis.

Notable alumni


  1. ^ a b c d e "The Top of the Class". Newsweek Magazine (Newsweek, Inc.): pp. 3. 2008. Retrieved 2008-06-16. [dead link]
  2. ^
  3. ^ Neff, Craig (1988-02-01). "Scorecard". Sports Illustrated (Time, Inc.). Retrieved 2008-05-16. 
  4. ^ Rippel, Joel; Michael (March 17, 2010). "TFD: Peter Graves was a two-time Minnesota HS state track champ". Minneapolis Star Tribune. Retrieved 2010-03-18. 

External links

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