More than Symbolic: Madison School
Named for Dr. Virginia Henderson

by Cristian Cruz, age 17

Virginia Henderson was a founding member of Women in Focus. The Madison School Board recently voted to name a school for her.

Nothing will honor the Henderson legacy more.

I was 10-years old when I first met Virginia Henderson. I was a middle school staff writer at Simpson Street Free Press and Virginia was a member of our board of directors. She always took the time to talk with us and encourage us. And she always supported our work. I still remember how she would ask us, the students, about our articles and what we were working on. Dr. Henderson talked to us about the importance of writing and academic achievement; always with a warm and caring tone. Each year, at the Women In Focus – “I Have a Dream Ball,” Virginia would welcome us and make us feel special. For us, getting to see Dr. Henderson was always one of the highlights of the event.

[read more]

Why I Love Learning at Simpson Street Free Press

by Sol Saray, age 8

Hello, I am Sol. I am a writer at the Simpson Street Free Press.

Let me tell you how I started at the Free Press. When I was about to enter first grade, my parents sent me to summer school at Frank Allis but I didn’t want to go. So, my brother Brandon took me to the Free Press and I started to work. I started when I was just five; now I’m eight. My first articles were book reviews about Dr. Seuss books.

Now I also love writing about animals -- mammals, reptiles, any kind of animal. I also like writing about space because it interests me a lot. [read more]

Local Students Interview Negassi Tesfamichael

by Cris Cruz, age 17, and Josepha Da Costa, age 15

Negassi Tesfamichael is a former education beat reporter at The Capital Times. We recently had a chance to catch up with Negassi, who is finishing his first year at the Pritzker School of Law at Northwestern University. In his tenure at The Cap Times, Negassi covered important topics like the SRO debate, a changing school board, and the challenges of keeping teachers in the classroom. As students interested in media, we asked Negassi about his interest in the field of journalism. We were also eager to learn about his experiences in law school so far. [read more]

My ACT Experience

by Amie Kabera, age 17

As a junior at La Follette High School, the majority of my school year was focused on preparing for the ACT college entrance exam. The ACT test plays a big role in determining college acceptance, in addition to GPA and other factors. As a student, it sometimes feels like it determines your entire future. Achieving a high score on the ACT greatly improves a student’s chance of being accepted to tougher universities or colleges. High scores can also mean scholarships and more financial aid. For me, scoring well on the ACT would allow me to branch out, leave Madison, thrive in my potential field, and to reach my ultimate goal of becoming a lawyer representing underserved people from diverse communities. [read more]

Amara Stovall Finds Success As a CEO of Tomorrow

by Amie Kabera, age 17

Amara Stovall is an eight-grade student at Wright Middle School and student writer at Simpson Street Free Press. Amara has launched a business intended to change the lives of survivors affected by police brutality. Her business dream is now a reality.

At the age of 13, Amara Stovall joined a High School program called CEOs of Tomorrow. The program helps students create businesses that solve social issues. She was able to be in the program with a little help from her grandmother.

“Since I was ten, my grandma always knew I wanted to have my own business,” she said. I asked Amara what made her want to become an entrepreneur at such an early age. [read more]

Restorative Justice Alternatives Will Keep Kids in the Classroom

by Kadjata Bah, age 14

The way that behavior is managed in schools can be crucial, especially in this time when “school-to-prison pipelines” are realities for many students. Schools are often quick to impose suspensions that leave students out of classrooms during school-day hours. This problem, however, does not impact all students equally. Across the country, Black students are three times as likely to be suspended than white students, according to findings of the Civil Rights Data Collection. Research shows that placing law enforcement officers in schools only adds to suspensions, expulsions, and even arrests. One way to challenge school-to-prison pipelines is to replace zero tolerance policies with Restorative Justice alternatives. [read more]

Students Can Succeed in Advanced Classes if Given the Chance

by Enjoyiana Nururdin

Standardized tests are typically used to identify students intelligent enough for advanced learning opportunities. This is a problem. Standardized tests are not the most accurate tool for measuring student intelligence.

Countless factors contribute to the ability to perform well on tests. We do know that students from disadvantaged backgrounds, including Black, Hispanic, and low-income students often don’t score well on these tests in comparison to their White, higher-class peers. As a result, these students miss out on advanced learning opportunities. Previous efforts made to diversify advanced programs at the high school level have proven unsuccessful, so universities are changing the way they look at admissions. In an attempt to grant more students opportunities to excel in advanced programs, some prestigious schools are abolishing the use of standardized test scores as a necessary component of admissions.

Standardized tests should not be used as the only benchmark to compare students. The reason: not all students are given the same resources. Most high schools already deal with the inequities of socio-economic status, education, and opportunity. These inequities mean some students excel while others fall behind. Sometimes location has a lot to do with the “pre-determined success” of a student. For example, Wisconsin is ranked as one of the worst states for African-American (Black) achievement. These factors can make it harder for a Black student in Wisconsin to excel as opposed to a Black student from New York City. There is a gap in the amount of funding and resources available and some students get more attention than others. This is an example of how inequalities can shape a student’s experience in school. High-achieving students are often those who get more resources. [read more]

Learning to Be a Journalist at
Simpson Street Free Press

by Abigail Comerford, age 14

I remember the first time I entered the Capital Newspapers building next to my school. I remember seeing professional journalists at work and thinking about how I could be like them one day. At James Wright Free Press I received constructive criticism on my articles from editors and volunteers. This was hard to take at first. My ambition was to be a writer and, at the time, I thought I was fairly good at it. However, with time and effort, I was producing one or more articles every month, and this summer I produced even more.

I will admit, it did take some time to get used to not being able to choose what write about. Free Press editors usually pick assignments for our newer student reporters. They want us to write about things we study at school. But as I gained experience, the editors gave me the freedom to choose my own topics. [read more]

Hello, I am Sol. I am a writer at the Simpson Street Free Press. Let me tell you how I started at the Free Press. [read more...]
Thanksgiving morning in 2019 was very cold. But for me, it ended up being heartwarming. Along with several of my Simpson Street Free Press colleagues, I made the trek to Fitchburg. We were not there for turkey--that was still in the oven. Rather we were there to volunteer for the Berbee Derby, a 10-kilometer race that winds its way through Fitchburg every Thanksgiving morning. Even though I spent much of the time wrapped in a warm blanket, I still got to participate and help out. And I still got to have fun. [read more...]
Negassi Tesfamichael is a former education beat reporter at The Capital Times. We recently had a chance to catch up with Negassi, who is finishing his first year at the Pritzker School of Law at Northwestern University. [read more...]
Virginia Henderson was a founding member of Women in Focus and soon the Madison School Board will vote on whether or not to name a school for her. Nothing would honor the Henderson legacy more. [read more...]
Some students don’t get the opportunity to show they’re advanced, at least not outside the realm of standardized tests. But there are other strategies that can help more students show their true potential. Studies suggest that low-achieving students perform better academically when they attend classes with their higher-achieving peers. This implies that students from disadvantaged backgrounds have the same potential to be advanced learners as their White peers. So, why aren’t there more students of color in advanced programs? [read more...]
The term "Doom Loop" describes a vicious cycle. An attempted solution makes a situation worse by not addressing the root of the problem. In finance, this refers to the boom-bust structure that leads to economic crises. Sometimes Madison uses the same doom loops many times before learning hard lessons. [read more...]
The forefathers of our democracy believed that “all men are created equal” and “are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights.” While today these words incorporated into the Declaration of Independence might sound outdated, they are just as important as ever. [read more...]
After 4 years on the track, Kiara Lee has been breaking both school records and personal records. [read more...]
A growing debate in today’s education system concerns the idea of Advance Placement (AP) courses and whether they are actually beneficial to students or simply funding College Board, the organization that founded the AP system, at the expense of student learning. [read more...]
Most of us consume plenty of good food on Thanksgiving Day. Luckily, Dane County has the perfect balance for all the calories. At the annual Berbee Derby, we can all get some good exercise Thanksgiving morning, and then enjoy the rest of the day with family and friends. [read more...]
Five local student reporters were recently promoted to teen editor positions at Simpson Street Free Press. All are veteran Free Press staff writers. These young journalists take on crucial jobs in Free Press newsrooms. High school-age student editors manage our various sections, assist younger writers, and organize summer book clubs. [read more...]
Madison Area Technical College (MATC) first broke ground on the South Side of Madison over a year ago. Now in this coming week, the college’s new comprehensive Goodman South campus will open, catering to the needs of MATC’s students and the surrounding community. [read more...]
SSFP develops young journalists. Now we share exciting news about two of SSFP editors. Deney Li and Enjoyiana Nururdin are writing bold, new chapters in their journalism careers. [read more...]
Yoanna Hoskins is an eighth grader at Sennett Middle School and a reporter at Simpson Street Free Press. She is also a karate champion. In September she took part in the WAKO World Championship For Cadets & Juniors in Jesolo, Italy, and came home with a bronze medal. [read more...]
Author Min Jin Lee says, "You can hear the crackle of heat and the roar of a powerful fire burning..." through the pages of Kate Wisel's first short story collection, Driving in Cars with Homeless Men. Out of 530 applicants for the Drue Heinz Literature Prize, the Boston-born Monona writer won the honor along with $15,000 and publication by the University of Pittsburgh Press. The prize, one of the most prestigious in the country, was started by the former publisher of The Paris Review and co-founder of Ecco Press, Drue Heinz, in 1981. [read more...]
Amara Stovall is an eight-grade student at Wright Middle School and student writer at Simpson Street Free Press. Amara has launched a business intended to change the lives of survivors affected by police brutality. Her business dream is now a reality. [read more...]
The Mellowhood Foundation’s Summer Initiative is a paid summer program in the southwest Madison Meadowood neighborhood that teaches a large age-range of children about independence and real-world responsibilities. The initiative draws on the knowledge students already have from school, while also teaching them skills such as independence and self-determination. Mellowhood student Amaria has learned valuable lessons through the program, such as “working hard, getting good grades, and failing from time to time.” [read more...]
The UW Extension FoodWIse nutrition and education program focuses on helping the community, specifically limited-income families, choose healthier food options. It is federally funded by the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program-Education (SNAP-Ed) and the Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program (EFNEP). [read more...]
Thanks to the new “Scholars of Promise” program, 150 students at Madison Area Technical College have access to new opportunities. Created by Madison College along with University of Wisconsin-Madison, qualifying students who complete their associate degree will be admitted to UW-Madison, free of cost, to continue pursuing their education. [read more...]
Journalist and former teacher Amber C. Walker is leaving her position at The Capital Times to earn her Masters of Fine Arts Degree in Digital Journalism at New York University this fall. [read more...]
Kwame Salter is an educator, mentor, and civil rights leader. He will be speaking this year at the 6th Annual Charles Hamilton Houston Institute Awards Luncheon. [read more...]
After the recent events in Florida, a group of students at Ray F. Sennett Middle School decided to speak out and teach people to be mindful and understanding about gun violence and school shootings. These students created a group called “Stop the Gun Violence” or S.T.G.V Power. [read more...]
My name is Aissata Bah, and I am seven years old. I love to color and draw. [read more...]
Simpson Street, the road on which Simpson Street Free Press was established, was once a corn field and the Royal Airport. The area around Antler’s Tavern—a beloved institution—has been through many challenges, but it’s always had a strong sense of community. [read more...]
Simpson Street editor Taylor Kilgore was driving home from our South Towne office the other day when she noticed something beautiful. Before her eyes, a group of artists, including teenagers, were working on a colorful mural on the side of the Well No. 3 Building on 6500 Raywood Road in Monona. [read more...]
Following a contentious 5-2 vote by the Madison School Board, James C. Wright Middle School will be the first school in the Madison Metropolitan School District to require students to wear uniforms. [read more...]
Hundreds of new college students will join Madison College’s new ‘Scholars of Promise’ scholarship program this fall. The program aims to help students from low-income backgrounds succeed as they pursue higher educations. [read more...]
Verona Area High School students camped out overnight last week to raise awareness about local poverty. [read more...]
Marianne Morton, Executive Director at Common Wealth Development, announced her retirement after 35 years working for the company. Morton began working at Common Wealth as a VISTA volunteer with the AmeriCorps program and was hired as permanent staff in 1983. From there, she rose through the ranks. [read more...]
Simpson Street Free Press editors applaud the Wisconsin State Journal editorial published on April 5. We challenge and question the subsequent guest column written by Allen Ebert and the Madison Central Consortium Project also published in the State Journal. Both op-ed pieces address the future of the Madison College downtown site. [read more...]
Sleep Inn hotel, tucked away at 4802 Tradewinds Parkway in south Madison, will soon receive an upgrade. Developers plan to nearly double the accommodations offered at this location with the construction of a MainStay Suites hotel. [read more...]
The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation announced recently that it will match any donation to the Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism, up to $1,000, through January 19, 2017. [read more...]
According to a 2003 study, more than 70,000 Dane County residents grapple with low literacy. Founded in 1974, Madison’s Literacy Network directly combats low literacy and provides free services for those hoping to improve their English language skills. [read more...]
If you’re ever looking for a sophisticated bite, look no further than Broadway. The teen editor crew and Assistant Editor, Aarushi Agni, from Simpson Street Free Press made the short walk from our West Broadway office to grab some grub at the newly renovated restaurant and bar, Off Broadway. Off Broadway is the reincarnation of South Bay Lounge, owned by Joe Klinzing at 5404 Raywood Road, Madison, Wisconsin. [read more...]
For years, Mayor Paul Soglin and the Madison Police have criticized the Penn Park shelter, located at the South Madison Park, 2101 Fisher St., citing inadequate design and questionable structure. There have been several proposals demanding for the demolition of the 1960s-era shelter. Some proposals called for replacement of the existing shelter with a new building complete with restrooms, concessions space, a meeting room and up to 3,000 square feet of covered area. [read more...]
After 39 years in business, the south side's beloved Badger Bowl is closing. Town Chairman Jim Campbell said the owners of the bowling alley and music venue decided to sell the property to a luxury car dealership, the Illinois-based Field Enterprises. [read more...]
Madison, Wisconsin’s very own One City Early Learning Center on the South Side of Madison will be the first US pilot site for the groundbreaking AnjiPlay curriculum. This preschool focused curriculum was developed over a 15 year period by Ms. Cheng Xuequin, Director of Preprimary Education for Anji County, China. It features minimally-structured, open-ended environments designed to allow more imaginative play and contact with the natural world. It places trust in children to take risks and to seek their own individual understanding of the world around them. [read more...]
In the 21st century, college students from low-income backgrounds often have trouble affording school and paying off student loans. Imagine adding unexpected bills to the mix. The Great Lakes Higher Education Corporation & Affiliates recently created the Emergency Grant Assistance Program to help these students pay for “unforeseen financial emergencies.” [read more...]
Completing college is a milestone that improves quality of life and future earning potential. But for many graduating high school seniors, high tuition fees are a barrier to attending college. To help bridge the gap for lower-income students, Madison College (MATC) has launched the Scholars of Promise program. [read more...]
Simpson Street Free Press staff writer and columnist, Enjoyiana Nururdin, was recently promoted to lead editor of La Follette High School’s student newspaper, The Lance. [read more...]
Madison Community Foundation (MCF) is a local charitable organization that creates grants for meaningful local initiatives. Madison College president Dr. Jack Daniels recently joined 16 other community leaders on the MCF Board of Governors. [read more...]
There is a new jewel on the Southside of Madison: the Goodman South Madison Library. Members of the South Madison Community love the new building space it provides. They also love the expanded resources and variety programs. [read more...]
Mount Zion Baptist church is a vital institution in south Madison. It has contributed in many important ways to the south side community. Any of us who have grown up in south Madison know Mt. Zion. It seems like the church has always been here. But, that is not the case. [read more...]
On a recent cold evening, a group of Simpson Street Free Press reporters gathered at the Goodman South Madison Library. We were in pursuit of a very hot story. [read more...]
As we Simpson Street Free Press reporters walked through the doors of Wright Middle School, we were thrilled and nervous to meet the former assistant principal of Hamilton Middle School, Dr. Angie Crawford. We are both former students of hers when she was assistant principal. Walking down the wide halls, we noticed many artworks done by students. On one side of the hall, we noticed an article about President Obama visiting the school's library, which really impressed us. As we continued down the halls, we finally arrived at Dr. Crawford's new, larger office, where she sat waiting for us. [read more...]
It was a bright and beautiful Wednesday afternoon when fellow staff writers, Antoneah Armour, Pallav Regmi, Victor Lien and I, went to visit Mahon Antique Restorations. Located less than five minutes from our south side newsroom, our editor told us this would be a good story. We weren’t sure why. We were anticipating a lecture about furniture, but instead we found something much more fascinating. [read more...]
Recently I enjoyed a delicious meal with several of my fellow staff writers at Carnival's, a local south side restaurant famous for its mouth-watering Baja fries. [read more...]
My parents have owned the Oriental Food Mart on South Park Street since September, 1, 2000. It has been a long journey to get to south Madison. [read more...]
“To live in a land of opportunity for both us and our children is all we want,” my parents told me when I asked about why they came to America. [read more...]