Q&A with KIPP Indy Legacy High Junior Arianna Jenkins
The Mind Trust believes the perspectives of those most affected by education change should be valued and allowed to shape education innovation and transformation. No one is more affected than students who attend schools we have helped launch and continue to support. In light of that, The Mind Trust’s Students on the Mind series highlights the experiences and viewpoints of high school students across center township.
Arianna Jenkins, a junior at KIPP Indy Legacy High, sat down with us for a Q&A to share about why KIPP has been her school home since 6th grade, her dreams of becoming a marketing executive, and what sets KIPP’s teachers and leaders apart.
Q: What were some of the factors that made you choose to attend KIPP Indy Legacy High?
A: When KIPP announced that they were going to open a high school, I immediately thought, “Oh, I’m not going there.” I really did not have KIPP in mind for high school at the time. Ultimately, I did decide to go to Legacy because it’s where I felt most comfortable and at home. David Spencer, our principal, convinced me to give it a shot. He made it sound like it could be an amazing school and I wanted to be a part of the legacy they are trying to create here.
At first, I complained a lot about the rules and structures they had in place. But I grew into it, realizing they were showing us what it took to succeed in the real world. KIPP Legacy is somewhere I quickly came to call home, filled with people I call my family. It really is a community here.
Q: How does KIPP Indy Legacy High foster that sense of community?
A: They are always partnering with someone. We’re always doing something with somebody in the community. As a KIPP Legacy student, I’ve volunteered with Edna Martin Christian Center. I worked with children, helping them with their homework and talking to them. Also, the teachers are all people you can rely on. Mr. Spencer in particular is constantly checking up on us and showing us constant love.
Q: You’ve attended KIPP schools since 6th grade. Why has this been your school home for so long?
A: First, it’s really the people. Everyone I know has been here a long time and it’s like a close-knit family you can’t let go of. Second, we have top-tier academics. This is a school where I feel like I’m getting so much out of it. Those are the two things that are keeping me here.
Q: What subject do you enjoy the most?
A: AP US History. Ms. Michel was originally my 9th grade history teacher and I remember my 9th grade year I didn’t understand history and we didn’t connect well. I remember falling asleep a lot; I thought it was so boring. Now junior year she is my AP US History teacher and she is amazing. The way she teaches got me into history. She adapted to students like me to get us involved and excited. My test scores are way better than freshman year. I had the highest score in our class on our last test.
Q: Are you involved in anything outside of academics at KIPP?
A: Theater class. Mondays and Tuesdays we visit the KIPP middle school to rehearse with them since they will be in the show with us. I love theater, I’ve been in it since I was nine years old. KIPP having a theater program is amazing for me because I love acting. We are doing the Lion King. I’m Timon. You know, nothing major. I’m also a stage manager and director. I like bossing people around.
Q: What are some of your goals for after high school?
A: When the pandemic hit, I realized there was no way I wanted to be a doctor anymore. It’s too much. So, I started thinking more about what I wanted to do instead. I like money, I know math, so I considered pursuing accounting. But accounting doesn’t really sit with what I want to do for the rest of my life because I like talking to people and communicating too much. I kept asking, “How can I put everything together so I can do what I want to do?” KIPP brings a lot of professionals in so we can see what different careers are like. I landed on marketing, which interests me because I can use my communication skills and my creative side in that career. My goal is to become a marketing executive.
Q: Where do you want to go to college?
A: Butler University. I want to stay close to home. I’m at a 4.42 GPA right now and I believe I have a chance of getting a full ride. I also have a Plan B just in case but I don’t really look much at Plan B because Plan A is the only plan. That’s why my name starts with an A.
Butler’s academics are the biggest draw for me. And the small classrooms since it is what I’m used to here at KIPP. Going to Butler would be more of the same, I think. I don’t want a school that would allow me to slack off. I need a school that is hard on me so I can continue to thrive academically.
Q: What do you appreciate about the leadership of your principal Mr. Spencer?
A: Mr. Spencer is a wonderful principal because of his personality. You get many Spencers. We have the serious Spencer who stays on top of things, makes sure you are in school on time, no excuses. We have the Spencer who is kinda fun and shows a soft side. Then you have the Spencer who cares about you like a father and is a father-figure to pretty much all of us at KIPP. All of those combine to make a wonderful principal.
He genuinely cares about us, not just because he is supposed to for his job. He always has the best in mind for us. He’s the reason I came to KIPP Legacy. He’s not going around flaunting that he’s the best principal in the United States when he really is. He’s very humble. He probably does things for us that we never know about.
Q: Who has been a mentor for you related to academics?
A: I can’t just say one name. First, Ms. Baiyee. She’s my advisory teacher. We really connected starting in 10th grade. She has such a caring spirit. Her compassion is real and it shows. She is also so motivational.
Then we have Ms. Michel. I’ve watched her grow as a teacher since freshman year. She is really amazing at what she does. Academically, she stays on me, asking, “Arianna, what do your grades look like?” Because she doesn’t want to see me slip up. Also Mr. Wright, he works with each of us to apply to at least 10 colleges and takes time to figure out what options are best for each student.
And I have to say Mr. Spencer again. He’s never given up on us. I had an attitude in the 10th grade and was really going to transfer schools for junior year. I was going to go to Shortridge instead. But two days before the school year started I called Mr. Spencer and said, “Can I please come back?” I couldn’t leave. I love it way too much. KIPP is my life.
Q: What would you tell a middle schooler to convince them to come to KIPP Legacy?
A: I’ve talked to middle schoolers about this. I went to The PATH School recently to talk to their 8th graders and I was basically telling them they should come here due to our academics but also because we are a family and the staff here will always have their best interests at heart. The main thing I can say about KIPP is that we are one big family. Our love is enough to spread across the country.
In every way, Arianna represents excellence, resilience, and leadership. Watching her excel throughout high school has been a true blessing, and I cannot wait to see the lasting impact she makes on the world.David Spencer, KIPP Indy Legacy High School Leader
About KIPP Indy Legacy High
KIPP Indy Legacy High is part of the KIPP Indy Public Schools network, which emphasizes college prep and character development for all students. With a focus on college and career readiness, KIPP Indy Legacy High students are exposed to rigorous coursework, including AP classes, and a world-class college counseling program through KIPP Forward. The school is bolstered by deep partnerships with the Martindale-Brightwood neighborhood, especially Edna Martin Christian Center. KIPP Indy Legacy High was founded by David Spencer, an Innovation School Fellowship alumna.
About The Mind Trust
The Mind Trust is an Indianapolis-based education nonprofit that works to build a system of schools that gives every student in Indianapolis, no exceptions, access to a high-quality education. The Mind Trust does this by building a supportive environment for schools through policy and community engagement, empowering talented, diverse educators to launch new schools, and providing existing schools with the support they need to hire world-class talent and achieve excellence. Since 2006, The Mind Trust has supported the launch of 41 schools, 14 education nonprofit organizations, and has helped place more than 1,700 teachers and school leaders in Indianapolis classrooms.