Normandy High School | St. Louis Public Radio

Normandy High School

Claudia Graham and Cassidy Stokes, both age 15, pose for a portrait at Normandy High School.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Cassidy Stokes thought it would be him, not his younger brother, who’d be the first to encounter a bullet.

“It just scared me, traumatized me,” the 15-year-old said about the time his brother accidentally wounded himself with a gun he’d picked up.

Claudia Graham, also 15, relies on prayer to get home safely every night. Her sister was shot and injured by an upset boyfriend “basically for no reason.” Guns scare her. People shoot before thinking, she said, but as a young woman, she’d carry one for protection.

Nayla Nava and Maya McGregory pitch Afrospanic Atmosphere  for the St. Louis Metro Youth Entrepreneurship Challenge. May 5, 2019
Chad Davis | St. Louis Public Radio

Nayla Nava and Maya McGregory took to the stage at the St. Louis Science Center on Tuesday to pitch their business idea for Afrospanic Atmosphere. It’s a plan they’ve been working on since the beginning of the year.

“We’re an apparel and accessory line that encourages black and Hispanic communities to pursue STEAM careers,” McGregory said. “We want to inspire black and Hispanic people to just go after their dreams and pursue their goals.”

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Nov. 21, 2011 - A former cheerleader at Normandy High School says a man who coached football there in 1984 sexually assaulted her -- and she made the charge on national television.

Goldie Taylor, now 43, didn't name her alleged abuser when she was interviewed on MSNBC's "The Last Word" this week, but later, on her website  she did: Pat Sullivan, a longtime coach at high schools in the St. Louis area and member of a statewide coaching hall of fame who just completed his last stint coaching boys and girls in cross country at Clayton High School.

Entrance to Normandy High School campus
Google Maps screen capture

Updated at 2:16 p.m. Wednesday with withdrawal of suit: The mother of a student at Normandy High School who filed suit in federal court challenging the suspension of her daughter after a fight at the school last month, which involved adults as well as students, has withdrawn her suit.

The lawsuit filed on behalf of Jennifer Williams and her daughter, a freshman  identified only by the initials J.M., says she “was summarily barred from attendance at the school without notice of a hearing and for no substantive fault of her own” after the fight on May 23. But her lawyer, Robert Herman, said Wednesday that because alternative arrangements for her daughter's education have been made, the lawsuit has been withdrawn.

Robert Dillon, director of innovation for the Affton School District
courtesy photo

Racial disparities are a huge topic in education. And Missouri schools — specifically those in the St. Louis area — have been singled out as having some of the nation’s highest rates of suspensions that are disproportionately allocated to African Americans. 

Over the next few weeks we’ll be bringing you stories of people directly participating in that system. This week, we spoke to educators, who shared their own journeys of grappling with issues of race, poverty and discipline in local schools. 

Opera Singer Denyce Graves rehearses with the Normandy High School Choir
Willis Ryder Arnold | St. Louis Public Radio

World-renowned opera singer Denyce Graves entered the choir room at Normandy High School Friday morning with a bright and forceful “Good morning, everybody!” She was met by resounding applause and a collective “whoo!” of excitement from the choirs of Normandy and also Central Visual and Performing Arts High School.

Timothy O'Leary, left, Duane Foster and Jermaine Smith discuss #WithNormandy, Sunday's community concert at Normandy High School.
Erin Williams / Opera Theatre of Saint Louis

“We are all one in song,” said Duane Foster, which is the idea behind Sunday’s #WithNormandy: A Concert for Peace and Unity.

The Normandy High School Choir, directed by fine arts teacher Foster, will participate in the concert at the school, along with an all-star cast of performers that includes Denyce Graves, Christine Brewer, Julia Bullock, Erika Johnson, Derrell Acon and Jermaine Smith.

The Normandy High School Chorale performing in February 2014.
Tim Lloyd |File Photo | St. Louis Public Radio

We confront trouble in various ways, and the most destructive of them and wasteful of them is violence. Certainly, tragically, the death of Michael Brown Jr. on Aug. 9 in Ferguson was a mean-streets example of the most malevolent sort of violence, a violence that generates an expanding circle of suffering, one affecting exponentially the lives of a huge and diverse population.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Sept. 16, 2013 - When classes began last month, Normandy schools lost more than 1,000 students who decided to transfer to accredited districts nearby. The district also lost a former valedictorian who had come back to her old middle school to teach.

Destiny Esper, who had studied journalism and public relations before deciding  to go into education, started her career teaching English at Normandy Middle School last year after going through the Teach for America program.

Editor's Weekly: A smooth start on student transfers

Aug 23, 2013

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Aug. 23, 2013 - Dear Beaconites - Last month, I worried that the school transfer issue could evolve into a perfect storm of our region's most emotional and intractable problems. Urban-exurban resentments, timid leadership, educational inequality and race -- all potentially feed the mix.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, July 3, 2013 -  David Glaser wasn’t in St. Louis three decades ago during the height of public opposition to the region’s first interdistrict school desegregation program. He’s learning about some of the old outcry as emotions rise in St. Charles County where the Francis Howell District is preparing to take students wishing to transfer there from Normandy.

Francis Howell is acting in the context of a state law requiring districts to educate students wishing to transfer out of unaccredited school systems.

Normandy High School Students Caught With Guns

Mar 13, 2013
Entrance to Normandy High School campus
Google Maps screen capture

Four suspects, including three students, have been arrested for allegedly exchanging guns on a suburban St. Louis high school parking lot.
 
Police were called Tuesday afternoon to Normandy High School after a parent reported seeing people inside two SUVs exchanging weapons. Officers say they found two guns.
 
Three of the four male suspects attend the high school.
 
The Normandy School District says it is committed to maintaining a safe and secure learning environment for all students.
 

This article originally appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: Destiny Esper says she never watched "Welcome Back, Kotter." Now, she’s living the sequel.

Four years ago, Esper was the valedictorian at Normandy High School. After graduating from Franklin College in Indiana, where she studied journalism and public relations, then going through intensive training with Teach for America, she began her classroom career this week as an English teacher at Normandy Middle School, where she once was a student.