Our School's Identity

Goal

The Benjamin Franklin High School Board will engage stakeholders in discussions about issues of inclusion, the school’s vision, and how it is advancing its mission. The results of this process will inform a broader strategy, and help chart how the school will serve its students and community into the future.

 

This is an extraordinary opportunity to reflect on our past and present and envision our future. At the end of this process, we will have a clearer picture of how you as students, alumni, parents/guardians, faculty/staff, and general community feel; what various perspectives and lived experiences are; and ultimately, what the school’s current strengths are, as well as if there are key issues that the Board should address. 

 

We will not know what next steps should be considered until the end of the stakeholder engagement process, which means that there are no predetermined outcomes. Next steps could include facilitating community forums, exploring a name change for the high school charter, adding or strengthening certain programs, creating new policies, or any action the data collection process shows the need for. That’s why it’s so important to hear from you. 

Context

In 2021, the Orleans Parish School Board determined that the name “Benjamin Franklin” did not meet their revised policy for building names. For most of his adult life, Ben Franklin enslaved people. Accordingly,  his name on school district facilities was removed by vote of the OPSB.  

 

The facility housing Benjamin Franklin High School was renamed for Katherine C. Johnson in honor of her legacy and lifetime achievements as a mathematician and NASA scientist.  NASA has noted her historical role as one of the first African-American women to work as a NASA scientist in addition to her critical and pivotal role in the success of the first U.S. crewed space flights.

 

Benjamin Franklin High School’s Board of Directors is seizing this moment as a catalyst to explore issues of inclusion, our values, identity, and legacy as a high-performing public school and how best to fulfill our mission of preparing students of high academic achievement to be successful in life. 

 

Through this process, broader and more meaningful than a name, we will actively engage and be informed by the school's many stakeholders, including students, faculty, alumni, and others.

 

Leveraging dedicated grant funds, the Board has hired an experienced consultant, K. Allen Consulting, to lead our community through this stakeholder engagement process. The purpose is to inform the charter school’s broader strategic plan. 

Where We are Now

A diverse group of BFHS stakeholders has been assembled to comprise a BFHS Stakeholder Advisory Committee to provide insight on the process, specifically advising on survey questions, messaging, and focus group preparations. This group is composed of BFHS students, parents, alumni, board members, and faculty/staff. Members are as follows:

 

  • Molly Irland, Teacher 

  • Stanley Taylor, Alumnus

  • Maria Do, Alumna

  • Donald Jackson, Assistant Principal, Parent of Alumnus and Current Student

  • Abigail Hu, Student

  • Dana Henry, Parent of Current Students

  • Alea Cot, Board President, Parent of Alumna

  • Wayne Collier, Alumnus, Parent of Alumni

  • Todd Ragusa, Board Marketing Committee Chair

  • Dr. Patrick Widhalm, Head of School

  • Alexis Ferrouillet, Board Member, Alumna

 

The first Stakeholder Engagement Steering Committee Meeting was held on March 29, 2022. The Committee has established an updated timeline for execution of data collection (surveys and virtual focus groups) and has reviewed and provided feedback on five different survey drafts that will be later distributed to BFHS stakeholders. There is a three-week survey window for completion (May 27 -  June 17, 2022).

 

We would love your input and feedback on the respective surveys below:

 

 

Optional virtual focus groups will take place the week of May 30 and the week of June 6. Here is the schedule for our optional virtual focus groups:

 

  • BFHS Current Student Virtual Focus Groups - June 1 (5 p.m. CT and 6 p.m. CT)

  • BFHS Alumni Virtual Focus Groups - June 2 (5 p.m. CT and 6 p.m. CT)

  • BFHS Staff Virtual Focus Groups - June 9 (5 p.m. CT and 6 p.m. CT)

  • BFHS Parent/Guardian Virtual Focus Groups - June 14 (5 p.m. CT and 6 p.m. CT)

  • BFHS General Community Virtual Focus Group - June 15 (5 p.m. CT and 6 p.m. CT)

 

To sign up for an optional virtual focus group, please use the following link: https://www.signupgenius.com/go/10C0F4DAAA72EA5FEC52-benjamin