Student For a Day: Niles North Edition


Senior Yourtana Suleiman of Niles North participates in NWN's Student for a Day crossover.

Michelle Carrillo

By Divitya Vakil, News Editor

Niles North: our sister school and rival. Despite both schools being situated in the Niles Township area, the school layouts, student bodies, and atmospheres are completely different, creating disparate high school experiences.

Upon entering Niles North, it was clearly evident just how different life for the North student body is. As students flowed into the building, the front desk personnel barraged the kids with the same phrase: “IDs please.” It seemed as though students were not permitted to enter the school without them. Sure, at West, it is technically necessary to have an ID, but we only have to present them to security when entering the cafeteria. If it is forgotten, a “temp” can be bought for 50 cents. Our crew from West was asked to present our IDs to a security guard approximately eight times during our time at North.

The Main Lobby was filled with comfy couches, where we waited for senior Yourtana Suleiman, the North student we would shadow for the day. But before Suleiman arrived, North Broadcasting teacher Ivan Silverberg escorted us to the North Star News room. Stylized neon signs illuminated the main corridor, guiding us down the narrow hall past the library, and the Point, which is North’s version of the Literacy Center.

The broadcasting room at North featured twenty desktop Macs. In contrast, the Niles West News room only has five PCs and two Macs — significantly fewer than North. There were several places and rooms designated for filming, one of which had huge, stand up lights, similar to those found on runways or professional photo shoots. The professional grade equipment alone made the room impressive.

As we were scheduled to meet Suleiman in her second period class, we attempted to navigate the building, which proved to be amusingly difficult. Late and confused, we circled–more like squared– around the confusing hallways to find the one main staircase in the building that could take us to the third floor.

Suleiman’s first class of the day was Journalism, a class with seven students. At West, journalism is a top choice as an elective and is maxed out when it runs. News Production has so much interest that more students want to enroll than there are seats in the room. Some students even elect to audit the course.

English teacher Jean Ordonez seemed energetic and passionate about teaching journalism, particularly in today’s climate.

“I like the transformation [of students]. Some of them didn’t really know what they were walking into. I like the camaraderie and their intensity. It’s nice to see them involved in our communities, and I hope it lasts. I want them to know that the role of a journalist is pivotal to upholding a democratic society,” Ordonez said.

After journalism came Sulieman’s third-period broadcasting class, where several students oversee content and mentor newer students.

“I think the broadcasting program has given me a voice to chase my future career in film-making. The curriculum is very flexible so it has given me this opportunity to explore [my options],” senior Ethan Soo said.

Since North was on an assembly schedule, there was no homeroom. However, Suleiman explained how homeroom was vastly different compared to West.

“Every Tuesday and Thursday, we go on the morning announcements and run down through a list of happenings at the school. It’s me and three other students, and we also emcee the pep assemblies,” Suleiman said.

After Broadcasting came Conversational Spanish, where the students were watching a soap opera and were truly engrossed in the drama that was unfolding. The curriculum of Spanish classes at West also includes dramas on Fridays.

Suleiman then had two, back-to-back free periods, one of which was spent back in the Broadcasting room. While I was expecting a totally new group of students in the classroom, this was not the case. Apparently, Suleiman was not the only kid who chose to spend their free periods working on their videos. It was beginning to get clearer why North’s Broadcasting program was thriving and constantly producing quality content.

Later, Suleiman went to meet some of her friends, the self-proclaimed “Lunch Bunch,” in a theater room. It was nice to see that the cafeteria wasn’t the only place that students could eat lunch. At West, students gravitate to the cafe, student commons, and Literacy Center.

Suleiman is involved at North, taking full advantage of the opportunities provided, particularly theatre.

“I think that something that our school does well is its arts programs. We have eight theatre productions, a bunch of choir, orchestra and band concerts. Our facilities are so amazing, and I don’t think people realize how lucky we are,” Suleiman said. “[North has] such an amazing staff who are experienced in their fields. [There are so many] resources we have available. I mean we have two separate theaters, and professionals come in to help with hair, makeup, and choreography. It’s really amazing that we have these opportunities and resources since a lot of schools generally don’t.”

Senior Esho Rasho agreed that the magnitude of the arts programs at North was why he enjoyed coming to school.

“I love it because of the really good arts programs, like theater. It really prepares you for a professional career. That’s something that I love about Niles North,” Rasho said.

Since the members of Viking Voice, the broadcasting group Suleiman is a member of, also emcee the Pep Assembly, she was excused from the rest of her classes to practice the script and set up. Students at North were seemingly able to orchestrate the whole event on their own.

Student activities director Caroline Benjamin was very supportive of Viking Voice running the show, rather than having her organize everything.

“Student life is very exciting and vibrant at Niles North. I get excited to see students run our programs. Most of it is written, run, and directed by students. It’s great to have them kind of at the forefront of a lot of the work that we do. I just get excited to kind of guide them,” Benjamin said.

The pep assembly was vibrant and full of spirit; so many students filled in bleachers that it was like a mosh pit. The music thumped in chests while students cheered for recognized peers; the whole atmosphere felt like one in a movie. Even though we have a similar black-light assembly at West, North’s felt more fun because it was organized by students, for students.

The day at North was a culture shock. Rules and security are more heavily enforced at North, leading to a more rigid environment. The involvement in North’s broadcasting program is comparable to West’s News Production, but North’s resources outweigh ours by a landslide. While a lot of people are under the impression that all high school experiences are the same and that two high schools in the same district must be replicas of each other, this was certainly not the case. While the crew and I were impressed by a variety of aspects at North, we still believe that “West is Best.”