Being one of seven children, Julius’s perspective of life is sometimes different from others. With the many priorities and responsibilities of his family life, he has always felt the need to place others' needs before his own. That worldview flows over into school life.
A leader in his senior class, community and family, a member of the student council, and change-advocate for students from all different backgrounds, Julius Mims is featured here for his work on curating student voice and using his life experiences to shape his learning at St. Anthony Village High School.
“At football games, I usually lead the student section in cheers. Sometimes it’s difficult because a lot of people don’t see the reason to go out when their peers don't do it too,” Julius said.
In this, Julius believes that to make a difference in schools, it takes proactivity in the groups that are working towards a solution.
“School is all about making the active choice to have fun, to have the perspective that you have the choice to make your time at school the best it can be,” Julius said.
In addition to being involved in social activities, Julius also takes advantage of the connections he has to other grades. His sister is a junior and his brother a freshman. Julius recognized that the current sophomore grade (then freshmen) didn’t have quite the same experience coming into the high school as other grades did, due to the pandemic. Julius actively reached out to those groups to “create a melting pot of ideas, with all voices being heard and coming together to create the best one.” He wishes other students would do the same, creating a more unified community between each grade level.
Julius exemplifies how we want our students to view their learning experience at St. Anthony - New Brighton Schools. Good grades are just the tip of the iceberg.
“I think doing well in school isn’t just a measure of your grades but a measure of the learning that you’re doing. Not necessarily in a strict educational sense, but in a life understanding sense,” Julius said.
When a student can take the material they’ve learned in class, make it relevant to their personal life experiences and bring it out of the classroom into real life, we have then achieved true learning.
Nowhere is this more evident than in Julius' love of nature, especially plants. He wants to combine his love for plants into his possible college career as an civil engineer with an environmental focus.
“One thing that particularly sparked my interest in engineering was my environmental education science class last year.” His class went on a trip to the Mississippi watershed, and it opened his eyes as to what is possible when little changes are made with big impact.
“It's important for students who might not have the facilities to get one of their opinions or needs voiced, if at the very least I can get what you need said to the person who needs to hear it, that feels like a task that someone needs to take responsibility for,” Julius said. “If that needs to be me, I can do that.”
Over the years, St. Anthony - New Brighton Schools has created new inclusive practices that have allowed all students to show up authentically. For example, during Ramadan, the district creates a separate space for students practicing the fast, a practice that Julius mentions is a “step in the right direction, but obviously, we could be doing more.”
A suggestion for administration? Create an African American literature class.
“As our student body becomes more and more diverse those classes should be accessible. There are tons of uncredited politicians, historians, really important historical figures, that aren’t white, that get a lot of their credit taken away. This change can help.”
Julius’s story is just one example of the incredible lives our students lead in and outside of school. By allowing students to engage with others at the heart level, staff open up possibilities for students to be their authentic selves. Our staff and leadership teams see students for who they are, not how they perform academically in class or activities. We hope that the perspective shift in how students view school curriculum will extend to others, leading to student’s finding their purpose, voice and choice at St. Anthony - New Brighton Schools.
- Ever Brighter