Brainerd High celebrates book challenge, field trips, Jazz-a-noo - | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Brainerd High celebrates book challenge, field trips, Jazz-a-nooga

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In response to recent negative publicity, Brainerd High School principal Uras Agee issued this open letter:

Here at Brainerd High School, students are our business. Our faces are marred by the dust, sweat, and blood of the Arena.

Like Martin Luther King, seldom do we pause to answer criticism of our work and ideas. However, we believe the Chattanooga NAACP has good will toward our school and students and their criticism is sincerely set forth. Every staff member at Brainerd is here because we believe in a vision and a blueprint for excellence set forward by our leadership. We choose to be at Brainerd because we believe in the inborn dignity of our students, and we fight each day to help empower our students to overcome the difficulties they face.

Nationally, the recent police violence has illuminated the issues we here at Brainerd fight against daily. More and more, society is struggling to recognize and accept the fallout born from urban youth feeling little social capital in high-risk neighborhoods and the expressions of anger resulting from experiences of neighborhood violence, racism and poor social support.

Here at Brainerd High School we use restorative practices to give our students the coping tools to combat these inequalities. We use a portion of state-mandated extended school time to teach resiliency skills and coping mechanisms. Our Academic Labs, In-School Suspension and Evening Schools focus on rehabilitation and reintegration. We have formed separate academies for smaller learning communities that support teacher-student relationships and the learning process. We are piloting a comprehensive behavior intervention model based on the cogent research trends and designed with the support of our Central Office and several support agencies.

Our blueprint is working. Our Algebra 1 and English 1 growth scores were #1 and #3 in the state, respectively. Our graduation rate has improved. Through a focus on rigor and professional development, our staff has improved. Through grants, local business support and hard work our school climate has improved. We suffer setbacks, but we do not throw students away or use meaningless punishment sadistically. We work daily to bring students back into our school that would be thrown headfirst into the school-to-prison pipeline anywhere else. Reintegration is a long and arduous process, and it takes years to break through with many students. The very students we work so hard to bring back into our school community sometimes drive our suspension numbers up, but rather than give up on them we take that hit to our numbers for their sake. We work tirelessly to find the balance between setting boundaries to prepare students for life and showing forgiveness and love, as any family does. As any family, we are not perfect. We welcome input; we welcome any agency to come alongside us in doing the hard work of breaking generational poverty and empowering adolescents with little hope.

We welcome positive action. 

Agee also singled out several classes for recent accomplishments:

The students in Biology 2, Anatomy, Physiology, and Health Science attended a field trip to Center for Disease Control in Atlanta, Georgia.  The David J. Spencer museum provides a historical look of the CDC.  Students were led on a tour by a microbiologist and were shown diseases the CDC worked on, what the function of the CDC is and all of the community outreach programs for health initiatives.  

Brainerd High music director John Rose commended Jalil Muhammad (Tenor Sax), Markell Davenport (Trumpet) or Dereke Townsend (Trombone) who performed with Jazzanooga's youth ensemble. Rose said, "They represented our band and our school with awesome stage presence and class."

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