Arlington Senior High School

Coordinates: 44°59′11″N 93°06′38″W / 44.986428°N 93.110571°W / 44.986428; -93.110571
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Arlington Senior High School
United States
School districtSaint Paul Public Schools
PrincipalPatty Murphy
Color(s)Blue and White   

Arlington Senior High School was a public high school in Saint Paul, Minnesota, United States. It was located in the city's North End neighborhood, north of Downtown Saint Paul. Arlington opened on September 3, 1996, and was the districts first new high school since Humboldt Senior High School opened twenty years earlier.[2]

By 2010, the school enrolled only 875 students in grades 9–12, despite having operated near its capacity of 2,000 most of the years it was open.[3] The school consistently served a population that was around 95% students of color, 50-60% ELL, and 90-95% students on free/reduced price lunch.[3] The school was closed after the 2010–2011 school year.

Arlington was the only high school in Saint Paul with no attendance boundaries and enrolled students from throughout the city. Beginning in the 2009 school year, the school's main educational focus was "Bio-SMART," a program that emphasizes bioscience and the use of technology in health care. The school offered several Advanced Placement classes as well as several College in the Schools classes, in conjunction with the University of Minnesota.

Following the schools closure, Washington Middle School took over the school grounds and the school is now known as the Washington Technology Magnet School, hosting grades 6-12 and continuing the Bio-SMART program, fulfilling the ultimate goal of Arlington Senior High School.


As early as 1991 the school district began to plan for an additional high school. Initial projections were to add 2 new high schools to the then 6 operating by 2000.[4] However a lack of funds allowed the construction of only one high school. The increasing number of children who attend public rather than non-public schools was attributed to part of the need. In 1974, 53% of children born in St. Paul later entered kindergarten in the city public schools. In 1990, 67% of the city's children attended public schools.[5] Overcrowding was so severe that in 1992 a citizen's group recommended moving 9th grade back into junior high buildings.[6] The overcrowding was blamed on a surge in the birthrate in Saint Paul and a sudden influx of students from the suburbs, an unusual occurrence in an inner city school district. Plans for a "high tech" high school were put in place in as early as 1992.[7]


In order to accommodate an estimated 4,000 additional students, existing commercial buildings were sought to convert into high school buildings.[8][9] After scouring the city, two possible sites were chosen. One near the Minnesota State Fairgrounds and the other near the school's current location. The proposed area was the former site of an auto scrap yard. Officials were worried that the location would be polluted and would require an expensive cleanup.[10][11] As a result, the location was moved to a site approximately .5 miles (0.80 km) west. Of the current 29 acres (0.05 sq mi; 0.12 km2) acre campus, roughly 20 acres (0.03 sq mi; 0.08 km2) were from a failed housing project and the other 9 acres (0.01 sq mi; 0.04 km2) were from homes that were bought and cleared. Some of the soil on the site was unstable and was replaced.[12] Critics considered the location for being too close to Como Park and Johnson high schools and for being located in a residential neighborhood.[13] Original estimates for the project cost $54.3 million and as a result the Saint Paul school district authorized a $20 million bond. Knutson Construction Co. was chosen for the project.[14]


The high school was the first new high school to be built in Saint Paul or Minneapolis since the 1970s. The school district was also not expecting to build another high school for 40 years after. As a result, the competition to name the school was fierce.[15] The name Arlington High School was eventually chosen from a list of 85 suggestions.[16] Two names, Arlington and Mechanic Arts, were quickly favored. Mechanic Arts was the initial favorite after alumni of the former school campaigned for the name to be reused after the first Mechanic Arts High School was closed down in 1976 after operating for 86 years.[17] The alumni created a lobbying group and even enlisted the help of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Harry Blackmun, a 1925 graduate of Mechanic Arts. However, the school board's policy of naming schools after local neighborhoods and street names eventually won out with the name Arlington being chosen in a 5–2 vote.[18] The chosen school colors, blue and white, were the colors of Mechanic Arts.


In the spring of 2010 Saint Paul Public schools faced a $27.2 million budget shortfall. To save money, plans to close the school began. The school's projected enrollment would only be 650 students. 2009–2010 Juniors would have been allowed to graduate from Arlington as the high school's last class but only half of the required number of students committed to attending Arlington for the 2010–2011 school year. The district set a goal of 150 Junior students staying for a viable program. 2009–10 Juniors and Sophomores were required to transfer to other schools with Freshmen able to stay on as part of Washington Middle School's BioSmart program.

The high school was closed for the 2010–2011 school year with Washington Middle School's grades 7–10 taking over the school's space. Eventually Washington Middle School took over the space, and the former Arlington Senior High School is now known as the Washington Technology Magnet School, hosting grades 6-12.[19][20][21]


Before the school was built many of the high schools in the Saint Paul Public Schools District were not up to date in technology. Consequently, an emphasis was placed on technology being built into the school and providing the ability to add to the existing facilities in the future.[22] The school has extensive high tech facilities.[23] The entire campus comprises 29 acres (120,000 m2) in a residential neighborhood. The outside of the building is composed of tall narrow windows and a curving facade which has led to one architectural critic comparing it to a suburban office park. The "houses" that the freshmen and sophomores are divided into can be seen as wings projecting from the building. The houses were planned to separate the school into manageable sections so that the school does not seem as large to the students.[24]


Students were enrolled from throughout the city. Often the school was used to reassign students who could not be enrolled into other high schools.[23] As of the 2006–2007 school year, Arlington enrolled 1,825 students. The plurality were Asian, at 48%, with Black, 35% and Hispanic, 11% being the other major ethnic groups. 5% of students identified as White. The school had the highest rate of poverty in high schools from the Saint Paul Public School system with 89% of students qualifying for Free and Reduced Price Lunch. Free and Reduced Price Lunch is the measure of poverty for the district. The school had a large percentage of students who have limited English proficiency (58%). 14% of students qualify for special education. The school had an Adequate Yearly Progress graduation rate of 83% while roughly three out of five students who initially enrolled graduated within 4 years. 35% of students had grade level reading proficiency and 13% of students had proficiency in mathematics.[25] Enrollment dropped considerably in the last years with only 875 students enrolled in 2010 and projections of only 650 for 2011.[1]


As the first new high school built in several years, many unorthodox ideas were suggested.[26][27] After many of the ideas were criticized the school district requested parental input on the direction of the school's curriculum[28][29] and held meetings around the city to show their plans for the curriculum.[30] School officials wished to create a balance of college prep classes and vocational programs.[31] The school was planned as a citywide magnet school with no attendance boundary.[32] An emphasis on technology was integrated into the plans for the school.[22]

Arlington offered language classes in French and Spanish. The school also participated in the University of Minnesota's College in the Schools program.[33] Advanced Placement classes were also offered. Arlington used a teaching program called "Small Learning Communities". These smaller learning communities separated particular student interests into different areas of the school. They provide goal- or interest-oriented learning. Freshmen and sophomores were separated into "houses" of smaller learning groups. Upper classmen followed specified career paths.[34] Originally the school was opened with four focus areas; liberal arts, medical and environmental sciences, informational technologies and communication and policy-making and government but beginning with the 2008–2009 school year those career paths had changed.[18]

In October 2007, the school received a three-year, $6 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education to help transform the school. The grant was used to create a "Bio-Smart" school for grades 11-12.[35] The money was used for hiring additional staff and adding more high-tech equipment and supplies to the school's "extensive" existing facilities.[23] Students were to choose between three career pathways: bioengineering and technology, bio-business and marketing or biomedical and health sciences. Students would take elective classes related to their pathway as well as core classes, such as math and English. The grant was sought to help reinvent the school. Arlington had the lowest test scores and highest concentration of poverty for Saint Paul Public Schools.[23] In addition, the school was described as an "academically struggling high school".[35] As a result of not meeting Adequate Yearly Progress as a part of No Child Left Behind Arlington faced restructuring. However, the school's restructuring was already underway with the biotech program.[36]

Extracurricular activities[edit]

In 2006, the Saint Paul Neighborhood Network's youth department produced a short video, reporting on Arlington's diminishing financial support for its art program, a video that would win SPNN the 2007 Alliance for Community Media Hometown Video Award for Visual Art-Youth entry.[37] Arlington was one of three schools in Minnesota and one of two in Saint Paul to have a Naval Junior Reserve Officers' Training Corps unit.[38] Arlington's NJROTC unit was named a Distinguished Unit for the fifth consecutive year. Only 20 percent of units earn the Distinguished Unit recognition yearly.[39] The Mural is the school's student published newspaper. Issues are published monthly.[40] A number of partnerships with community organizations are offered. Local colleges such as Saint Paul College, Century College and the University of Minnesota's Carlson School of Management. Internships with local multinational conglomerate 3M are also offered.[41] The school also participates in Upward Bound with the University of Minnesota, Advancement Via Individual Determination Program (AVID) and Admission Possible, a program that helps low-income students attend college. The school has a Multicultural Excellence Program (MEP) that gives guidance to students of color who wish to earn a college degree.[42]


Arlington is a member of the Minnesota State High School League.[43] The school's athletic teams compete in the Saint Paul City Conference. The first year the school opened the athletic teams only competed in junior varsity competitions. The following year the school competed fully with varsity teams.[44] The school has won two boys Cross Country conference championships in 2001 and 2002.[45] The school has also won three boys track and field conference championships in 1998, 2000 and 2003.[46]

Arlington offers nine boys' and nine girls' varsity sports. These include football (boys), wrestling (boys), tennis (boys and girls), basketball (boys and girls), baseball (boys), softball (girls), golf (boys and girls), soccer (boys and girls), volleyball (girls), badminton (girls), cross country (boys and girls) and track and field (boys and girls).[47] Sports that are not offered at Arlington are played in co-ops with other Saint Paul City Conference members.

In popular culture[edit]


  1. ^ a b "ARLINGTON SENIOR HIGH 2010" (PDF). School Report Cards. Minnesota Department of Education. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2011-09-28. Retrieved 2010-10-14.
  2. ^ Burson, Pat (January 31, 1995), "Arlington Backed For School Name" Saint Paul Pioneer Press
  3. ^ a b SPPS Data Center(October 1, 2009) "Class Size - Senior High"
  4. ^ Walsh, James (September 21, 1993), "St. Paul high schools are running out of room" Star Tribune
  5. ^ Livingston, Nancy (May 21, 1991), "Growing Enrollment May Force St. Paul To Add Two High Schools", Saint Paul Pioneer Press
  6. ^ Livingston, Nancy (July 15, 1992), "School Space Panel Favors 9th Grades In Junior Highs", Saint Paul Pioneer Press
  7. ^ Livingston, Nancy (November 11, 1992) "School Face Crisis In St. Paul, Officials Warn//Board Members Weigh Plans To Build, Expand", Saint Paul Pioneer Press
  8. ^ Livingston, Nancy (February 2, 1993), "Board Seeks Building To Convert To High School//Additions Planned At Existing Schools", Saint Paul Pioneer Press
  9. ^ Walsh, James, (February 2, 1993), "Existing buildings sought to turn into high schools", Star Tribune
  10. ^ Livingston, Nancy (October 29, 1993), "Possible Site For New St. Paul School Splits 6 Board Candidates", Saint Paul Pioneer Press
  11. ^ Walsh, James (July 20, 1993), "City narrows high school site choices to 2 - 2,000 students to start in 1996; second school planned by 1998", Star Tribune
  12. ^ Baker, Ann (February 23, 1994) "Hearing Set On Plan For New High School" Saint Paul Pioneer Press
  13. ^ Livingston, Nancy (March 3, 1994), "High School Slated For North End//Board Must Buy Site", Saint Paul Pioneer Press
  14. ^ Burson, Pat (April 20, 1994), "Bond Sale Approved For School//2,000-Student Building Set Near Rice, Arlington", Saint Paul Pioneer Press
  15. ^ Burson, Pat (September 26, 1994), "What's In A Name? It's All Academic// Citizens Grapple With Issue Of Naming New High School", Saint Paul Pioneer Press
  16. ^ Burson, Pat (December 7, 1994), "Five Make The Cut For New High School's Name//St. Paul School Board To Choose Name, Colors Soon After 1st Of Year", Saint Paul Pioneer Press
  17. ^ Burson, Pat (December 12, 1994), "Machinations For School's Name, Colors, Hit High Gear//Mechanic Arts Favored For St. Paul High School In The Line Reader Poll", Saint Paul Pioneer Press
  18. ^ a b Burson, Pat (February 22, 1995), "Arlington High It Is! Mechanic Arts Fans, Alumni Disappointed", Saint Paul Pioneer Press
  19. ^ "Washington Technology Magnet School / Homepage". Retrieved 2022-05-14.
  20. ^ Belden, Doug (April 14, 2010). "St. Paul Arlington High's closing urged - Dozen other schools shuffled, programs eliminated in $12.5M cost-cutting plan". Saint Paul Pioneer Press.
  21. ^ Belden, Doug (May 22, 2010). "Senior year at Arlington High School nixed, after all - Not enough juniors signed up to stay". Saint Paul Pioneer Press.
  22. ^ a b Burson, Pat (July 4, 1994), "Schools Play Catch-Up With Technology", Saint Paul Pioneer Press
  23. ^ a b c d Walsh, James (2007-10-14). "A Saint Paul school looks to biology to find new life Struggling Arlington High School is reinventing itself as a bioscience school to give its students a new direction". Star Tribune. pp. Metro 1AA. Archived from the original on 24 December 2007. Retrieved 2007-12-21.
  24. ^ Millett, Larry (2007). AIA Guide to the Twin Cities: The Essential Source on the Architecture of Minneapolis and St. Paul. Minnesota Historical Society Press. p. 511. ISBN 0-87351-540-4.
  25. ^ Arlington Senior High[permanent dead link] Minnesota Department of Education. Retrieved on February 27, 2008
  26. ^ James, Walsh (July 30, 1993), "School in a class by itself - But St. Paul parents want more of a say", Star Tribune
  27. ^ Livingston, Nancy (August 1, 1993), "Plans For New St. Paul High School Draw Criticism", Saint Paul Pioneer Press
  28. ^ Livingston, Nancy (August 24, 1993), "District Asks Parents' Ideas, Support Of New High School", Saint Paul Pioneer Press
  29. ^ Staff Writer (August 27, 1993), "St. Paul / Hearings set for proposed high school", Star Tribune
  30. ^ Burson, Pat (April 25, 1994), "Public Gets Early Chance To Have Say In High School", Saint Paul Pioneer Press
  31. ^ Smith, Maureen M. (October 2, 1994), "A new school means new things to learn - St. Paul invites public to help select curriculum, name for high school", Star Tribune
  32. ^ Burson, Pat (September 19, 1994), "Planning For School Turns From Bricks To Books// Educators Begin Shaping New High School's Identity", Saint Paul Pioneer Press
  33. ^ College in the Schools - Participating Schools Archived 2006-02-11 at the Wayback Machine College in the Schools
  34. ^ Burson, Pat (April 4, 1994), "From Ground Up, St. Paul High School Will Have New Look", Saint Paul Pioneer Press
  35. ^ a b Belden, Doug (2007-10-12). "Arlington Receives Biotech Grant". Saint Paul Pioneer Press. pp. Local B2. Archived from the original on 2008-05-15.
  36. ^ Belden, Doug (August 5, 2008) "4 St. Paul schools must 'prepare for restructuring'" Saint Paul Pioneer Press
  37. ^ "2007 Hometown Video Award Winners". Archived from the original on 25 August 2007. Retrieved 2007-08-29.
  38. ^ NJROTC HOST SCHOOLS Archived 2007-06-11 at the Wayback Machine Naval Junior Reserve Officers' Training Corps Retrieved on March 5, 2008
  39. ^ "Arlington JROTC honored by U.S. Navy Archived 2011-07-10 at the Wayback Machine" (July 8, 2008) East Side Review
  40. ^ The Mural Archived 2008-02-18 at the Wayback Machine Arlington Senior High School Retrieved on March 5, 2008
  41. ^ Partnerships Archived 2008-02-21 at the Wayback Machine Arlington Senior High School Retrieved on March 5, 2008
  42. ^ A little bit about ourselves... Archived 2008-04-23 at the Wayback Machine Arlington Senior High School Retrieved on March 5, 2008
  43. ^ Saint Paul Arlington High School Minnesota State High School League
  44. ^ History Archived 2008-09-08 at the Wayback Machine Saint Paul City Conference Retrieved on March 5, 2008
  45. ^ Boys' Cross-Country Champions Archived 2008-03-17 at the Wayback Machine Saint Paul City Conference Retrieved on March 5, 2008
  46. ^ Boys' Track Champions Archived 2008-03-17 at the Wayback Machine Saint Paul City Conference Retrieved on March 5, 2008
  47. ^ Arlington High School Athletics Archived 2008-03-05 at the Wayback Machine Arlington Senior High School Retrieved on March 5, 2008

External links[edit]

44°59′11″N 93°06′38″W / 44.986428°N 93.110571°W / 44.986428; -93.110571