When people hear that my daughter attends Davenport North High School, it sometimes seems as though they feel the urge to extend their sympathies.
It’s usually unspoken but you can see it in their eyes. “She goes to North? I’m sorry. You know, with open enrollment, she could go to a better high school.”
No, she couldn’t. Because I really don’t think there is a better high school in the Quad-Cities than Davenport North.
There’s this stigma about North that is totally unfair and unwarranted, based on myths, exaggerations and superficial judgments made by people who have no idea what they’re talking about.
This is one of the underlying aspects of the current debate over open enrollment in the Davenport public schools. People who live in the northern part of Davenport want to retain the ability to send their kids to Central or West or other schools outside the district.
They’ve been misled. There’s no need for them to look elsewhere. They have a great high school right there in their own neighborhood. In this case, perception is not reality.
It seems as if people judge a school by its football team or its athletic programs in general. If that’s your criteria, then sure, North leaves something to be desired. My daughter will graduate this spring having seen her high school win just one football game in four years. Some of the school’s other athletic teams aren’t significantly better.
It’s largely a product of the philosophy that if you can’t beat them you should join them. Many athletes who live within the North district have decided they can’t beat the other high schools in the Mississippi Athletic Conference in their chosen sport so they’ve defected. They’ve taken the easy way out.
That’s why the proposed tightening of the open enrollment rules is a good idea. If all the athletes in the north part of town actually attended North, the sports programs wouldn’t need to take a backseat. As a sportswriter, I’ve seen how open enrollment can create an unhealthy imbalance in the on-field success of teams.
But athletics aside, North doesn’t take a backseat to anyone.
I have had two kids go through this high school, 10 years apart. I’ve never feared for their safety. I’ve never doubted that they were receiving the proper level of discipline and guidance. I’ve never had the slightest question that they were getting the best education possible.
My son, Ryne, graduated from North in 2003 after competing in three sports there and being part of a show choir that finished second in a national competition in his junior year. He is well on his way to a solid career in law enforcement.
My daughter, Emily, is a senior at North and has had a great four years of high school.
She’s a three-time member of the All-Iowa Honor dance team, one of two from North to make it this year and one of three to do so last year.
She was All-State in chorus, one of seven North kids to make it. (No Davenport high school had more than that. Davenport Central had four. West had two.)
She is the captain of the dance team, two-year captain of the colorguard, dance captain in a tremendous show choir program.
She has earned a Distinguished Scholar Award to attend Northern Iowa and has been inspired enough by the teaching she has received that she aspires to enter the profession herself.
Enough parental bragging. Here’s the point: In the past four years, Emily’s natural abilities have been identified, nurtured, encouraged, enriched and enhanced by the teachers and administrators with whom she has come into contact.
And isn’t that what we want from a high school? Isn’t that what we should expect?
There’s no need to sympathize. If I had a third child, I know exactly what high school I would send them to. And I wouldn’t need open enrollment to make it happen.
Don Doxsie is sports editor of the Quad-City Times. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.