A yellow school bus emblazoned with the hashtag #rethinkhighschool parked outside of the Civil Rights Museum in downtown Memphis on Monday.
Community members, educators, students and people just passing by were invited to hop on the bus, try on virtual reality goggles, contribute to a mural representing Memphis students, peruse iPads filled with information about the challenge, and record some of their own thoughts about improving high schools
The tour made its stop in Memphis as part of the XQ Super School Challenge. The challenge was started by Laurene Powell Jobs, wife of Apple executive Steve Jobs, to reimagine high schools in America. Supporters of a new school in Memphis, Crosstown High School, submitted an application for a $10 million grant through the competition.
Crosstown’s application team aggregated opinions from more than 150 Shelby County Schools students and used their perspectives to create a model for what the new school could look like. The XQ bus will also hold a student roundtable Tuesday and a discussion Wednesday with the application team.
For now, XQ bus staff are collecting opinions about high schools more broadly. They will announce the five winners of the grants in August. Cierra Locket, who graduated from Craigmont High School this spring, offered her insight Monday. She said she wished she would have had more opportunities to apply her classroom learning to her future studies in screenwriting.
Locket is headed to Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles in the fall, but if she could have reimagined her high school experience it would have been less focused on tests, and more on being well-rounded.
“It’s not all about the tests and passing and what you’ve learned and gotten in this class, but what are you learning in classes and in your extracurriculars that bring it full circle,” Locket said.
Disclosure: Chalkbeat receives support from the Emerson Collective, which launched XQ.