North Gwinnett High School Hidden Literacies

The above North Gwinnett insignia is the first things students see when they walk into school. The entrance has a vaulted ceiling and then drops to a normal height past the doorway. This emblem is located on the wall where the drop occurs. I would say, for the most part, the administration, teachers and students have a lot of pride in their identity as a school and their place in the community. There is a lot of school spirit and everyone is very proud to be a North Gwinnett Bulldog. Because of this, this NG symbol, as you will see, is found in variation around the entire building. The red and black school colors are also found on almost every surface they could possibly put it on including door labels, the yearbooks, t-shirts, and art.

If you look immediately to your left as you enter the building, you will see these Broad Prize for Urban Education posters. I was unsure what this prize was awarded for, but upon further research found that "The $1 million prize—which since 2002 has been awarded to public school systems that have demonstrated the greatest overall performance and improvement in student achievement while narrowing achievement gaps among low-income students and students of color" (Broadfoundation.org). As North Gwinnett is a mostly affluent and white school, this award originally confused me, however I also learned that this award was given to the entire Gwinnett County School District, not just one school.

If you continue walking, you will come across this very impressive trophy and award case. Here, the school displays the accomplishments of athletic teams and other clubs. While it's not actual words, I think that in addition to the awards at the front door, it says a lot about how much North Gwinnett values achievement. They want to show off all that their students and faculty have accomplished. I don't think this is necessarily a bad thing, because I think that if you've done something great for the school, you should be recognized for that. However, I do wonder how it affects those students that are not involved in extracurriculars or are not super high achieving. This constant reminder of success and the pressure to do "well" may make these students feel inferior.

These paintings, and several similar pieces, are also located in the main entrance way. The visual art department has a small hallway right off the main office, and so these colorful bulldogs are representative of those classes. It still speaks to the pride in the school mascot.

The Bulldogs are everywhere. This bulldog, located at the entrance of the media center, is inspired by those bulldog statues found around Athens. He is painted with patchwork designs that represent the major curriculum areas of NG.
As a general rule, nothing is hung directly on the walls of any hallways. I'm not sure of the exact reason behind this, but I assume it has to do with residue from sticky substances. Instead these cork board strips are hung every few feet for clubs and activities to hang their advertisements. These are what was hanging up in mid November. I really appreciate the diversity of activities featured here and how the represent different areas of the student body. For example, you will see one sign reading "pepero day" and is advertising a place for students to buy Pepero to give to their friends. Pepero day, as I have learned, is a South Korean holiday similar to Valentines Day in which people give pepero (cookie sticks coated in chocolate and candy) to loved ones. North Gwinnett has a high Korean population, so it's nice to see their culture celebrated school wide. You will also see posters for an author talk in the library, the performance of "How to Succeed in Business", a Gay-Straight Alliance meeting, and a dance performance of a Jazz version of the Nutcracker. These corkboard strips are one of the main ways that students get information about what's happening in the school because they did away with morning announcements. Announcements are now posted digitally to the website and on the NG app in order to save instruction time.
This is a poster that caught my interest fairly early on in the year. It simply features photos of students (the bottom right is actually one of my students) and claims that NG is delivering on the Promise of Gwinnett. I had no idea what this "promise" was and so I also had to look it up. The promise.gwinnett..k12.ga.us website states, "Public education is a cornerstone of America, playing a key role in building a strong community and strong nation, working to ensure a future filled with promise for all. In recognition of the promise in every child, Gwinnett County Public Schools is celebrating 2016-17 as a Year of Promise for our students, for our staff, and for the community at large."

Much of the text that occurs in the hallway tells students that success, school pride, and involvement is valued here.

Other things you may see in the hallways are locker covers, like the one on the far left, that honor seniors. These covers are made by sports teams to celebrate their seniors. The covers are then left up all year. The cheerleaders were the first to get their locker covers and all of them are this purple paper featuring pictures of the student. The football schedule on the top right is in the hallways, common spaces, and several teachers' classrooms. Again, we can also see the NG logo on every nameplate by a teacher's door. In this section of the school (the newer building) there are no bulletin boards on the walls that I could find.

This is my MT's bulletin board in her classroom. She doesn't like to change it very often, so it's typically generic. This year, she went with Dr. Seuss quotes. I'm not sure if the kids have taken the time to read all of them, but I'm sure that some use them as a distraction during instruction time. My favorite one is the little blue one on the left that says "kid, you'll move mountains." I think it's really encouraging for students to read and know that they can do great things. Since we teach exclusively seniors, there are also several of these posters that have to do with going places and making memories.

Carvings in desks are pretty standard for most high schools, I would say. I'd never noticed this one before until I started moving the desks around for an activity. I don't think it was done this year, but I couldn't help wonder which of my students has been looking at this all semester. Are they also bored? Do they trace the letters with their pencil to make them darker? I don't have access to every classroom on campus, but how many more similar carvings are there in the school?

On Wednesdays, we wear North Gwinnett advisement shirts.

When I started at NG, my mentor teacher made sure that she ordered me an advisement shirt because teachers can wear jeans on Wednesdays if they also wear this shirt. Wednesdays are when students go to advisement and so every year, the shirt reflects the advisement curriculum theme. When you think about it, NG students see "this is North" and "great by choice" on every teacher and faculty member they see that day. You once again see the school spirit in the front of the shirt with the bulldog and color scheme. But then the back reinforces that expectation for all students at this school to be great. Greatness in this context isn't specified, so I think it's just a call for the students to be the best they possibly can. We choose to reach our own potential (in a way).

Made with Adobe Slate

Make your words and images move.

Get Slate

Report Abuse

If you feel that this video content violates the Adobe Terms of Use, you may report this content by filling out this quick form.

To report a Copyright Violation, please follow Section 17 in the Terms of Use.