Dance studio gives Norristown students a glimpse of the frontier – The Mercury


Editor’s Note: Journalism students at Ursinus College, supported by a grant from the Pericles Project, spent a semester interviewing students in public high schools in Montgomery County to get their perspective on the impact of inequitable school funding. of Pennsylvania on their education.

NORRISTOWN – You could say that Layla Chaaraoui lives between two worlds.

She attends Norristown High School, one of the lowest-ranked schools in the county, according to US News & World Report. But she lives near the dividing line, and dances in a studio where she is the only student in her school, and where other dancers come from higher-ranked schools.

With one foot in each world, Chaaraoui sees how the other half lives, and learns.

At Norristown High School, Chaaraoui is an active and successful student. She is a member of eight clubs and ranked high in her category as a junior.

But despite its successes, one of the hardest parts of going to school is the reputation that comes before it.

Chaaraoui believes that foreigners pass judgment without knowing or understanding the school community. They think the school is full of incapable students, but she thinks many of the challenges Norristown faces could be solved with more funding.

For example, Chaaraoui believes that Norristown’s poor standardized test scores could be improved if the school had better programming to better prepare students who speak English as a second language. She thinks the school’s performance under the circumstances is admirable. “We take what we get and we do so much of it and I feel like a lot of people are forgetting that,” she said.

Chaaraoui also believes that students who attend Norristown have some advantages over students she knows who attend other schools in the county.

Norristown is one of the more diverse school districts in the area compared to some of its neighbors like Perkiomen Valley and Spring-Ford.

“I feel like [Norristown] is very mixed and I have the impression that if you start driving ten minutes away you lose it all, ”said Chaaraoui. Norristown students have an advantage in entering the adult working world because they have met people from all walks of life, she said.

That’s not to say that Norristown students don’t have preconceptions about their wealthier school counterparts.

Friends from both parts of his life attended Chaaraoui’s 16th birthday party.

She felt like the two groups had made up their minds about each other before meeting them, and didn’t have much interest in becoming friends, as they didn’t think they would have much in common. But at the party, they got together and hit it off. Perhaps, she said, what we initially think about others is not always true.

Chaaraoui said she was extremely grateful for the time spent at Norristown High and in her dance studio. She notes that she was treated with respect and that she has good friends from both communities.

She said she wanted more people with the power to make change to listen to people in her community.

“The government could help schools like us a lot better, but it is what it is, it shouldn’t be what it is, but there’s not much we can do yet. “

Norristown, said Chaaraoui, is a proud community and they want people to make the positives the center of the discussion, rather than focusing on the negatives.

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