Conversations involving both Central and Stevens High Schools frequently pit the two against one another. But are the schools as different as stereotypes suggest?
Central High School: home of the Cobblers, student population,1,911; school colors, red and white; school song, “Huckleberry Hound.”
Stevens High School: home of the Raiders, student population, 1,548; school colors, blue, white and silver; school song, “Love is Blue.”
Their home town is Rapid City, South Dakota.
These cross town rivals are pitched as polar opposites, but are they really? What makes these schools different from one another? What do students like about their respective schools, and what do these schools have in common? We wanted to know, and we found through interviews with students and teachers that when you strip Central and Stevens down to their core, there are more similarities than differences.
We began with academics. It’s a common myth that Stevens has smarter kids than Central, but is this true? The only significant differences we found were in the Smarter Balance testing scores, taken by juniors from both schools. According to the official school report cards, in math Stevens scored almost 21 points higher than Central. In English, Stevens scored 20 points higher. In both categories Central was about five points below the state average. Central Principal Mr. Michael Talley believes Central’s lower scores are especially a result of the school’s high mobility rates, a term that describes kids who are in school sometimes and aren’t in school other times, due to attendance or because they’re moving around a lot. Between 35 and 40 percent of Central’s students are considered mobility students. Talley also said many kids are in and out of school enrollment, and that another factor to consider is how important the test is to students. For example, students who aren’t college bound tend to provide work that isn’t their best.
Strengths and Weaknesses
Beyond test scores, one way to understand the heart of these two “rival” schools is by starting from the elected homecoming queens, Alivia Olson and Dana Jones. Homecoming is an essential part of every high school. It builds school spirit and brings the entire student body together to kick off a school year packed with activities.
We begin with Alivia Olson of Central High School. She is the co-President of National Honor Society, Drama Club Vice-President, theatre extraordinaire, a four year drumline participant, and self-proclaimed “bounty hunter.” When asked to rank her school spirit on a scale of 1-10 she says 12 without hesitation. The Queen was overjoyed to share what she thinks about her respective school. “Central is unlike your stereotypical high school. We dismiss social cliques and everyone comes together to support one another.” Every high school has it’s strengths and weaknesses, and Alivia expresses Central’s strengths as the accepting environment, support from the staff, and support by certain activities for other activities. Alivia involves herself in pep band and theatre, which both love cheering for any team at Central. In her opinion the weaknesses are the parking lot and harassment from other students, unfortunately. (The harassment issue boils down to kids at Central calling other kids nasty names.) Besides the little negative things about Central, Alivia’s experience has been amazing and she was happy to share that she made great friends along the way too.
“My experience at Stevens has been pretty good. I have a lot of great friends and all the support I need.”
From Stevens, we spoke to Dana Jones, who is the student body Co-President, National Honor Society member, violinist, church volunteer, extreme snowboarder, and a bright light to the world-sweet- lady. She was eager to represent the positive aspects of her school. “Classes at Stevens are short. There are so many different classes and you can take whatever. This enables you to explore many interests and there’s something for everyone. My experience at Stevens has been pretty good. I have a lot of great friends and all the support I need. The strengths of Stevens is the support system from peers and teachers.” While these are just some of the many things Dana enjoys about her school, just as with Central, Stevens has its strengths and weaknesses. “The weakness of Stevens is a pretty prominent one. It’s been ongoing ever since I was freshman. The biggest problem with the school is the division between the underclassmen and upperclassmen, but I’m trying to break that stereotype.” As Dana attempts to change her student body for the better, she’s bringing Central and Stevens closer in their similarities. Central has combated the problem of the division between upperclassmen and underclassmen with their Cobbler to Cobbler program. This program seems to be working well, as it lets the freshman out of classes to bond with and meet qualified juniors and seniors.
Students Supporting Students
We understand that both schools have a tight support system. This can enable kids to follow their dreams and make those dreams a reality. At the end of the long school day, we can take both of those schools and agree that the support system is what keeps driving these schools to succeed at an excellent rate. One of the support systems is the students. That’s a similarity that leaps all other differences.
Next, we interviewed a different set of student-leaders in the school. Both of these individuals are officers of their respective theatre departments: Brennan Brink, President of Central High Theater, and Brady Schaat, Treasurer of Stevens High Drama.
Brennan has been involved in Central High Theater since he was a third grader in the spring musical, Miss Saigon. He enjoys how Central is laid out, with one major hallway that branches off into smaller departments. He would accredit Central’s strengths to our ROTC and theater programs and how we accept and celebrate diversity throughout the school. Being president of the largest after school club in the state, Brennan says, “I use my position to express my feelings of love to all our drama kids so that they then may express those feelings to other groups they are involved in.” Brady Schaat is also involved in AP physics and is president of the Econ Club. “I believe that Steven’s strengths lie in students who go above and beyond to find their passion. Students at Stevens will devote endless hours to their passion.” Brady since being involved in so many activities uses his positions and knowledge of business to increase a clubs profit margin. Brady is an example of someone who is passionate for business and accounting, which has led him to watch closely over his club’s’ financial accounts. Through these activities, Brady has improved his school and shared his knowledge with the rest of Stevens.
A Teacher’s Perspective
As Brennan and Brady show, both of these “rival” schools have pivotal students who generate and share kindness, love, and compassion for every single person who goes to that school. On top of these influences, there is one crucial reason the schools are succeeding: it’s due to the teachers that bring the student body together. To help us compare the two schools, we turned to a teacher who has been present at both.
Mrs. Severson-Stover was a student and counselor at Stevens. She is now a teacher at Central and has taught at Central in the past. “I worked with great people and kids at Stevens,” she says. She also believes the most important aspect to look at when comparing both of these schools is the diversity in kids. I would have to agree with her because kids often judge others solely on appearance; it’s that way everywhere you go. Both of these schools have a labeled stereotype where Central consists of stupid kids and thugs, and at Stevens they’re rich and smart. The stereotype arises from gossip among all the schools in South Dakota. We have to remember that we can’t just base all of our opinions on the stereotypes that the school is presented as.
“That’s all the rivalry is—a stereotype, a rut.”
“That’s all the rivalry is—a stereotype, a rut,” Mrs. Severson-Stover explains. “Each school has a reputation, it was that way even when I went to Stevens. I think what mostly stood out to me as a counselor was that kids seem to have a harder time fitting in at Stevens than at Central. The reason for this I think is because there stereotype is so perpetuated it gives kids a reason not to be their most awesome selves.” Mrs. Severson-Stover shared with me that since she was a part of such a unique aspect at Stevens, she got to see a side nobody else sees. “There’s those kids that people don’t talk about over there. Like homeless kids, kids with no food, kids that do drugs…” She went on to tell me that the simple fact is that kids struggle and kids flourish. I believe that any high school you go to you will find this is a factor. When you look at it from this perspective you can see that Stevens is not all that different from Central at all. The strongest aspect that both schools flourish in is their teachers. These teachers help the schools bring up the very best kids. Both schools are known for this and it’s these individuals that keeps Rapid City afloat and a striving, beautiful community everyone is happy to be a part of.
A Common City, A Common Goal
Central High School, Stevens High School; red, blue; Cobbler, Raider: we use these labels to divide us, but at the end of the day we’re just two high schools full of teachers and students trying to do their best for their school. While our rivalry is fun to take part in at sporting events, it’s important to remember that the guy dressed in the other color is someone like you: a student who wants to do better for their school and most importantly, another human wanting to do better for their community and for themselves. It’s also important for us not to judge the other guys because of stereotypes we have in our heads. Remember who you are, who the schools are, and who you are representing. While the two schools have their differences we are one in the same.
Go Rapid City.