MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Four years ago, there were 67 students enrolled at Minneapolis North High School, and the school was in danger of closing.

Now, there are more than 300 students and 90 percent of the senior class is expected to graduate on time. Also, the North football team could soon play for a Class A state title.

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It’s a perfect blend of athletics and academics that has led to achievements on and off the field. WCCO’s Reg Chapman went back to school to learn the secret behind their success.

Dr. Shawn Harris-Berry came to North High four years ago, when the school was at its lowest point. There was even talk of it closing.

“I had about 67 students,” Dr. Berry said.

Dr. Berry ushered in the new Arts and Communications Academy and partnered with teachers and coaches to create an environment where students could thrive.

“We’re very professional, but personal with our students. We’re hands on,” Dr. Berry said.

The hard work is paying off. This year 300 students go to North.

“It’s hard to get them to go home at night. They would stay here 24/7 because they know this is a safe place and they know people here really care about them,” Dr. Berry said.

A big source of pride on the north side is Polar Football.

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“I’m a product of this so to be able to be a part of this history and help build the legacy here athletically it just brings a smile to my face,” Coach Charles Adams said.

Adams isn’t only the coach, he is the school’s resource officer. Building relationships is key, and Adams says focusing on developing kids in this community is vital to the team’s success.

“I just put the effort and the faith into kids that are from north Minneapolis and try to mentor them and make them better,” Adams said.

Coach Adams says what North has is a perfect blend of academics and athletics. All of his athletes are A and B students. His seniors have offers to go and play at the junior college level, but some will go straight to four-year schools.

“I’ll be the first in my household to go to a public university. That’s something I can be proud of,” quarterback Tyler Johnson said.

Johnson says what he’s learned at North High has him ready for the next level at the University of Minnesota. He says this team has the drive to win both on and off the field.

“To play in the game it all has to start in the classroom and we all want to be out there playing in front of the community,” Johnson said.

North will play Braham in the state semifinals on Saturday in St. Cloud.

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Next year, North High School hopes to add 200 freshman to its new STEM academy that will steer students in science, technology, engineering and math.

Reg Chapman