Benjamin Franklin High School (New Orleans, Louisiana)

Benjamin Franklin High School (New Orleans, Louisiana)

: "This article is about the Franklin High School in Louisiana. For others of a similar name, see Franklin High School (disambiguation)"



Benjamin Franklin High School opened as a math and science-oriented school for gifted children in 1957 under the direction of School Superintendent James F. Redmond. Dr. Thomas Tews (Principal, 1988–2001) believed the school was founded as part of a nationwide push for elite science and math academies, prompted by the launching that year of Sputnik by the Soviet Union.Citation|last=Thevenot|first=Brian |title=Drawn Apart; New Orleans public magnet schools represent both an answer to failed integration and a new kind of segregation.| newspaper=The Times-Picayune.| date=2004-05-18] During the African-American Civil Rights Movement, a 1960 Time Magazine article stated that Redmond's "proudest memory of the first day of integration three weeks ago, when truancy was rife, is that 'my Franklin kids stuck with it.'"cite web|url=,9171,871912,00.html|title=Hot Seat in New Orleans|accessdate=2007-02-25|publisher="Time Magazine"|date=1960-12-12] Redmond referred to November 16, 1960, when 2,000 youths surged through New Orleans streets in demonstrations against school integration. Only 8 Franklin students were absent from class.Citation|last=Sitton|first=Claude|title=2,000 Youths Riot in New Orleans; Police Arrest 50 and Subdue Anti-Integration Mobs.| newspaper=The New York Times|page=pg.1, Special to The New York Times.| date=1960-11-17]

For over 30 years the school was housed in a historic courthouse on Carrollton Avenue in Uptown New Orleans. Built in 1855, the building had served as the Jefferson Parish Courthouse until the City of Carrollton was incorporated into New Orleans.cite web|url=|title=Images of the Month: April 2004|publisher="New Orleans Public Library"|date=2004-03-24|accessdate=2008-01-10] By 1987, the building had fallen into disrepair and lacked basic air conditioning.Citation|author=Associated Press|title=Heat is burning issue at Ben Franklin High.| newspaper=The Advocate (Baton Rouge, La.).| date=1987-05-21] Despite these conditions, Franklin maintained a reputation as a place of academic excellence.Citation|last=Marcus |first=Frances Frank |title=THE NATION: The View From America's Stranded Public Schools; Lack of Interest: In New Orleans, Many Opt Out.| newspaper=The New York Times| pages=Sec.4, Pg.4, Column 2.| date=1988-12-18]

In the late 1980s, the Orleans Parish School Board leased land from UNO and built a larger and more modern campus for Ben Franklin. Ben Franklin moved to this current Lakeview campus during the 1989–1990 school year.cite web |url=|title=Regional History - New Orleans Collection|accessmonthday=March 1|accessyear=2007 |publisher="Southeastern Louisiana University: Center for South Louisiana Studies"| archiveurl=
] The building was designed by E. Eean Mcnaughton Architects and received an honor award from the American Institute of Architects Gulf States Region in 1994.cite web|url=|title=BENJAMIN FRANKLIN HIGH SCHOOL, New Orleans, LA|accessdate=2007-03-15|publisher="E. Eean Mcnaughton Architects Project Page"]

Ben Franklin is located near the London Avenue Canal. Like the southern buildings of UNO and most of the schools in Orleans Parish, Ben Franklin suffered several feet of flood damage from Hurricane Katrina. The school was closed before the storm hit on August 29, 2005, and remained closed for several months. School administration, faculty, parents, students, alumni, and volunteers participated in a massive cleanup effort, without funding from and independent of the Orleans Parish School Board. The effort was chronicled by several nationwide news agencies.cite web|url=|title=Principal Pushes To Reopen School|accessdate=2006-11-17|publisher="CBS News "The Early Show"|date=2006-01-19] cite web|url=|title=Back to Class: How a Principal In New Orleans Saved Her School|publisher="The Wall Street Journal", pg. A1 (dead tree edition)|date=2006-01-13|first=George|last=Anders|accessdate=2006-03-15|format=PDF] cite web|url=|title="Fresh Air": Back in School, Back in New Orleans|accessdate=2007-02-15|publisher="National Public Radio"|date=2006-03-15] Contributions to Ben Franklin after Katrina included US$10,000 from the government of France.cite web|url=|title=French Cultural Aid to Louisiana|publisher="General Consulate of France in New Orleans"|archiveurl=|archivedate=2008-01-10|accessdate=2007-02-15]

The school re-opened as a charter school on January 17, 2006, the 300th birthday of its namesake Benjamin Franklin. The re-opening ceremony was held in the previously flooded-out gym. The gym had been the most severely damaged structure on campus. All of the floor tiles had to be removed and replaced, and the wind-damaged ceiling had to be repaired.cite web|url=|format=PDF|title=Camille Bullock's reopening speech|accessdate=2008-07-14|publisher="Benjamin Franklin High School"|date=2006-01-17] [cite news| first=Barri| last=Bronston| title=Mind over muck| work=The Times-Picayune| date=2005-12-05| accessdate=2006-05-31]

Visitors to Franklin include President Bill Clinton, who spoke with Franklin students on April 30, 1993 about his plans to create a National Service Initiative.cite web|url=|title=Remarks by the President with students of the National Service Initiative: at Benjamin Franklin High School.|accessdate=2008-10-01|publisher="William J. Clinton Presidential Center"]


An admissions test is required to apply to Ben Franklin. Ben Franklin features a challenging college-preparatory curricula and an extensive AP Program. Approximately 99.5% of each graduating class enters college. Of the 162 students in the class of 2006, 28 were National Merit Semifinalists, 7 were National Achievement Finalists, and 3 were Hispanic Scholars. For the class of 2005, the mean SAT Verbal score was 645, and the mean SAT Math score was 636. The mean ACT composite score was 27.2.cite web|url=|format=PDF|title=Benjamin Franklin Admissions Booklet|accessdate=2007-02-17|publisher="Benjamin Franklin High School"|date=2007] One hundred percent of Franklin students passed the Louisiana Graduate Exit Examination (GEE) in Spring 2006, with a significant number achieving Advanced and Mastery level.cite web|url=|title=GEE Grades 10 & 11 - First-Time Test Takers|accessdate=2007-02-15|publisher="Louisiana Department of Education"|date=2006]

In the fall of 2005, Ben Franklin was one of three high schools given a five star rating (the highest possible) by the Louisiana Department of Education. The following table displays the three schools, along with their respective "School Performance Score (SPS)." The SPS is based on test scores from LEAP/GEE subject area tests in addition to "The Iowa Tests" results and attendance/dropout data.cite web|url=|format=PDF|title=2004-2005 Accountability User Guide|accessdate=2008-07-14|publisher="Louisiana Department of Education"|date=2005]

Benjamin Franklin High School was named a National Blue Ribbon School by the U.S. Department of Education in 1989 and 2003.cite web|url=|format=PDF|title=List of Blue Ribbon Schools Recognized 1982-2002|accessdate=2007-03-04|publisher="U.S. Department of Education"] cite web|url=|format=PDF|title=No Child Left Behind – Blue Ribbon Schools: All Public High Schools|accessdate=2006-11-17|publisher="U.S. Department of Education"] It is routinely ranked as the best traditional high school in Louisiana with regards to student test scores, sports, arts, and advanced placement programs. Newsweek listed Ben Franklin as one of the elite public schools in the country in 2006 and 2007.cite web|url=|title=The Public Elites|accessdate=2006-11-17|publisher="Newsweek Magazine"|date=2006-05-08] In 2008, Franklin was no longer listed as a "public elite" and instead ranked number 35 in the nation on the complete list of America's Top Public High Schools. Additionally, 1 art and 12 academic Presidential Scholars have been selected from the school as of 2007.cite web|url=|title=Presidential Scholars Program Search; State:Louisiana, High School: Benjamin Franklin|accessdate=2007-02-15|publisher="U.S. Department of Education: Presidential Scholars Program"|date=2006-03-01] [Citation| last=Jackson| first=Connie|title=High School Senior Writing Her Destiny.| newspaper=The Times-Picayune| pages=pg.A1| date=1995-05-18] [cite web|url=|title=2007 Presidential Scholars|accessdate=2007-05-09|publisher="U.S. Department of Education"|date=2007-05-01]


Enrollment in Ben Franklin is open to residents of Orleans Parish entering ninth, tenth, or eleventh grade. Students applying for tenth grade must have one credit in English, math, science, social studies, and foreign language. Students applying for 11th grade must have two credits in each of the listed courses. Admission is based on an applicant's GPA and performance on the Iowa Test of Basic Skills or the Iowa Test of Educational Development for reading, language, and mathematics. The Iowa Tests are administered at Ben Franklin. All students meeting the criteria for entrance into 9th grade are also required to pass the LEAP 21 exam (Louisiana Educational Assessment Program for the 21st Century Exam taken in 8th grade).

Ben Franklin had 888 students during the 2004-2005 school year. The demographics were 422 Caucasian, non-Hispanic, 239 African American, 123 Asian, 33 Hispanic, and 1 Pacific Islander.cite web|url=|title=Benjamin Franklin High School|accessdate=2007-02-23|publisher="National Center for Education Statistics"]

Extracurricular activities


Ben Franklin teams are known as the "Falcons" with school colors green, white, and orange. The Falcons are in District 11-3A (Div. II) of the Louisiana High School Athletic Association and features the following athletic programs:
*Girls: Basketball, Cross Country, Golf, Soccer, Softball, Swimming, Tennis, Track, Volleyball.
*Boys: Baseball, Basketball, Cross Country, Football, Golf, Soccer, Swimming, Tennis, Track.

Ben Franklin is best known for its girls' athletics program, which is one of the best in the Greater New Orleans Area. The girls' soccer team was the Class 4A State Champion in 1998, 2003, and 2004, and the volleyball team won state titles in 1996, 2002, and 2003.cite web|url=|title=State Championship Archives starting from 1996|accessdate=2007-02-24|publisher="Louisiana High School Athletic Association"] In 16 years as Ben Franklin's head volleyball coach, Jodee Pulizzano led Franklin teams to six Division II state championships and two runner-up trophies.cite web|url=|title=Greatness abounds in legacy of N.O. junior athletics|publisher="Clarion Herald"|date=2004-08-11|first=Ron|last=Brocato|accessdate=2007-02-15|archiveurl=|archivedate=2004-11-22] cite web|url=|title=Pulizzano out at Ben Franklin|publisher="The Times-Picayune"|date=2008-07-15|first=Pierce|last=Huff|accessdate=2008-07-24]

Accomplishments since 1996 include:
* Swimming-Girls (AAAA Champion 1997; Runner-up 1996, 1999)
* Swimming-Boys (AAAA Champion 2001; Runner-up 1999, 2000)
* Volleyball (AAAA Champion 1996,2002,2003; Runner-up 1997, 2004)
* Girls' Soccer (AAAA Champion 1998,2003,2004)
* Boys' Soccer (AAAA Champion 2004; Runner-up 2005)
* Tennis-Girls (AAAA Runner-up 1997)
* Tennis-Boys (AAA Champion 2008; AAAA Runner-up 2004, 2006, 2007)

In 2007, the Ben Franklin football team made the Class 3A playoffs for the first time in school history.cite web|url=,0,7524447.story|title=Ben Franklin High School Gets Top Honors -- In More Ways than One|publisher="ABC 26 News WGNO"|date=2008-05-21|first=Laila|last=Morcos|accessdate=2008-07-24] However, they went on to lose in the first round to Amite High School.

Performing arts

The music program at Ben Franklin was founded by Peter Dombourian, who served as part-time band director and music teacher from 1974 until 1991. His students included trumpeter Wynton Marsalis, who enrolled concurrently at Ben Franklin and the New Orleans Center for Creative Arts (NOCCA).cite web|url=|title="Wynton Marsalis: Speaking from the Melody"|publisher="IAJE Jazz Education Journal", Vol. 29, No. 1, July 1996|first=Antonio J|last=Garcia|accessdate=2008-02-21] In 2005, the band room and music lockers at Ben Franklin were flooded in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, destroying the school's collection of instruments, privately-owned instruments left behind by students, and approximately $100,000 of sheet music.cite web|url=|last=Resseger|first=Jan|year=2007|title=Public Education In New Orleans In the Aftermath of Katrina|publisher="United Church of Christ Justice & Witness Ministries"|format=PDF|pages=pg.1|accessdate=2008-07-27] The Tipitina's Foundation, New Orleans Music Exchange, Mr. Holland's Opus Foundation, and P.S. 54 Charles W Leng School were among the contributers who helped the music program continue.cite web|url=|last=Maloney|first=Stephen|date=May 28|year =2007|title=Tipitina's Foundation in N.O. playing off the city's musical|publisher ="New Orleans CityBusiness"|accessdate=2008-07-27] cite web|url=|title=Katrina Donations|publisher="The Mr. Holland's Opus Foundation"|accessdate=2008-07-27] Student musicians in the concert band and string orchestra participate annually in the Louisiana Music Educator's Association (LMEA) State Festivals, where they often collect "Superior" ratings.cite web|url=|title=Blue Ribbon Schools Program Application - Benjamin Franklin High School|publisher="U.S. Department of Education"|format=PDF|pages=pg.6|accessdate=2008-07-27]

In March 2008, Franklin theater students were able to conduct a mixed-media performance of James Still's "And Then They Came for Me: Remembering the World of Anne Frank" with Holocaust survivor/author Eva Schloss in attendance. The play was co-sponsored by the National World War II Museum and coincided with Schloss' lecture at the museum.cite web|url=|title=Holocaust survivor's story comes to life on the stage|publisher="The Times-Picayune"|date=2008-03-06|first=Nina|last=Wolgelenter|accessdate=2008-04-22] cite web|url=|title=A conversation with Eva Schloss at The National World War II Museum|publisher="The National World War II Museum"|date=2008-02-17|accessdate=2008-04-22]


Ben Franklin publications include "The Franklin Forum" (school newspaper), "The Ben Franklin Post " (parent monthly newsletter), "The Riverbend Review " (literary magazine), and "The Franklin Falcon" (yearbook). The "Riverbend Review" has received numerous awards from the Columbia Scholastic Press Association and the American Scholastic Press Association, winning Silver Crowns and First Place classifications as recently as 2006 and 2007.cite web|url=|title=2006 Scholastic Crowns|publisher="Columbia Scholastic Press Association"|accessdate=2007-02-16] cite web|url=|title=2007 Scholastic Crowns|publisher="Columbia Scholastic Press Association"|accessdate=2007-04-16] cite web|url=|title=Top-Scoring Magazines for 2006 and Advisers|publisher="American Scholastic Press Association"|accessdate=2008-01-10|archiveurl=|archivedate=2007-03-17] cite web|url=|title=Top-Scoring Magazines for 2007 and Advisers|publisher="American Scholastic Press Association"|accessdate=2008-01-10]

Clubs and organizations

The following list includes clubs offered at Ben Franklin High School in 2006-2007.cite web|url=|title=Clubs 2006-07|publisher="Benjamin Franklin High School"|accessdate=2007-04-16]
*Academic Decathlon
*Academic Games
*Art Club
*Asian Pacific Club
*Black Culture Club
*Classical League
*Close-Up: Washington, D.C.
*Culinary Club
*Dance Team
*Drama Club (Produces school plays)
*Environmental Club
*French Exchange Program
*French Trip
*Franklin Forum (School Newspaper)
*FTV (Falcon Television)
*Gay/Straight Alliance
*German Club (Delta Epsilon Phi)
*German School Exchange Program (GAPP)
*Green Society
*Hebrew Culture Club
*Hispanic Culture Club
*Hi-Y/Tri Hi-Y
*Intramural Program
*Iota Sigma
*Key Club
*Library Media/Reading Club
*Mock Trial
*Mu Alpha Theta
*National Honor Society
*Philosophy Club
*Outdoor and Sports Club
*Pottery Club
*Riverbend Review
*Science Olympiad
*Science-Fiction Club
*Service Learning Projects
*Spain Trip
*Speech/Debate Team
*Student Council
*Student Leadership Team (Jrs./Srs.)
*Students Working Against AIDS Together (SWAAT)
*Young Democrats
*Young Republicans

Yearbook 2006

The class of 2006 was the subject of an online documentary called [ Yearbook 2006] , created by bluecadet interactive and produced by Josh Goldblum, Josh Cogan, and David Lee. The non-profit Web-based project features 140 minutes of raw interviews as well as photographs and other multimedia designed to capture the lives of about 30 Franklin seniors after Katrina. The project, featured in the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration's Spirit of Recovery conference and USA Today,cite web|url=|title=SAMHSA News: July/August 2006, Volume 14, Number 4|publisher="Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration"|accessdate=2007-04-16] cite web|url= |title=Class of Katrina carries on|publisher="USA Today"|date=2006-08-28|first=Colleen|last=Clark|accessdate=2006-04-16] was designed to “give a cohesive and layered forum to the fractured voices of those seniors who were displaced and those who remained in New Orleans, aiming to, above all, nurture and heal the vibrant social fabric that Katrina threatened to destroy.”cite web|url=|title=Yearbook 2006|publisher="bluecadet interactive"|accessdate=2007-04-16]

Notable alumni

*Kim M. Boyle: first African American President of the New Orleans Bar Association, President-Elect of the Louisiana State Bar Association (LSBA) for 2008-2009cite web|url=|format=PDF|title=2007 Leadership in Law|accessdate=2008-01-18|publisher="New Orleans CityBusiness"|date=2007-04-02] cite web|url=|title= Louisiana State Bar Association Names Phelps Dunbar Partner President-Elect|publisher="Phelps Dunbar LLP"|accessdate=2008-01-18]
*Robert S. Eitel: Deputy General Counsel for Departmental and Legislative Service: U.S. Department of Educationcite web|url=|title=Robert S. Eitel|publisher= "U.S. Department of Education: Office of the General Counsel"|accessdate=2007-04-16]
*Lolis E. Elie: Times-Picayune columnist, writer, author of "Smokestack Lightning: Adventures in the Heart of Barbecue Country" (ISBN 1580086608)Citation|title=New Columnist| newspaper=The Times-Picayune|pages=National, pg.A1|date=1995-07-05]
*Ted Frank: director of the AEI Legal Center for the Public Interestcite web|author=Ted Frank|url=|title=Who is this Ted Frank guy anyway?|accessdate=2008-09-15 |work=Lagniappe: an unserious blog|publisher=published by Ted Frank|date=2004-04-23]
*David Freedman: General Manager of WWOZ-FM 90.7 1992-presentcite web|last=Clanton|first=Brett|url=|title=Radio station mgr. discusses local music industry|accessdate=2007-08-18|publisher="New Orleans CityBusiness"|date=2002-03-11]
*Lisa Gaddis: Geologist & Program Chief: U.S. Geological Survey Astrogeology Team, NASA Principal Investigatorcite web|url=|title=Lisa R. Gaddis, Geologist & Program Chief|publisher= "U.S. Geological Survey" |accessdate=2008-01-12]
*Joseph Horton MD: Neurointerventional surgeon; Inventor; Founder, Micrus Endovascular Corporation (MEND)
*Jalila Jefferson-Bullock: Louisiana State Legislature - Representative, District 91: 2003-2007cite web|url=|title= Representative Jalila Jefferson-Bullock|publisher="Louisiana State Legislature" |accessdate=2007-04-16]
*Anya Kamenetz: freelance writer & columnist, author of "Generation Debt" (ISBN 978-1594489075)
*Saundra Levy: Director of the New Orleans Jewish Endowment Foundation (1991-current), former director of the New Orleans and Central Business District Landmarks Commission.cite web|url=|title=Women&Business presents the Women of the Year: SAUNDRA LEVY|accessdate=2008-01-18|publisher="New Orleans CityBusiness"|date=2001-03-26]
*Delfeayo Marsalis: jazz trombonist - attended Ben Franklin/NOCCAcite book| title=Contemporary Black Biography: Delfeayo Marsalis| publisher=The Gale Group, Inc.| date=1982-]
*Wynton Marsalis: Pulitzer Prize, nine-time Grammy Award winning musician - attended Ben Franklin/NOCCA.cite web|url=,11710,881770,00.html|title=Blowing up a storm|accessdate=2007-02-20|publisher="The Guardian"|date=2003-01-25]
*James Nolan: poet, fiction writer, essayist, and translatorcite web|url=|title=Author James Nolan's 'Perpetual Care' is the real deal|publisher="The Times-Picayune"|date=2008-04-16|first=Susan|last=Larson|accessdate=2008-04-22]
*Wendell Pierce: actor, star of the HBO drama "The Wire"cite web |url=|title=Actor wants to revive Pontchartrain Park|accessdate=2008-08-27 |author=Associated Press|publisher="KATC Channel 3" |date=2008]
*Cedric L. Richmond: Louisiana State Legislature - Representative, District 101: 1999-currentcite web|url=|title= Representative Cedric L. Richmond|publisher="Louisiana State Legislature"|accessdate=2007-04-16]
*Mark Samuels: founder and president of [ Basin Street Records] cite web|last=Trowbridge|first=Denise|url=|title=Basin Street Records|accessdate=2007-04-16|publisher="New Orleans CityLife"|date=May 2004]
*Gregory Schramel: founder, conservatory director of the [ New Orleans Ballet Theatre] [Citation| last=LaFrance| first=Siona| title=En pointe;A NOCCA graduate returns home and leaps into a dream| newspaper=The Times-Picayune|pages=LIVING, pg.1|date=2003-06-11]
*Chris Smither: American folk/blues singer, guitarist, and songwriter
*Misty Suri, M.D.: Team Orthopaedic Surgeon - New Orleans Saints, New Orleans Hornets, New Orleans VooDoo, University of New Orleanscite web|url=|title= Misty Suri, MD|publisher= "Ochsner Physician Directory" |accessdate=2008-04-04]
*James Van Alstyne: professional poker player
*Alex Warren: drummer from indie rock band Jonezetta
* Walter Williams: SNL writer, creator of Mr. Billcite web|url=|title= Native Son Comes Home|publisher= "Louisiana Department of Agriculture & Forestry" |date=2004-02-19|accessdate=2008-05-22|archiveurl=|archivedate=2004-03-08]

In popular culture

Benjamin Franklin High School has appeared in film, books, and other media. In a short play that appears in New Orleans novelist Walker Percy's "Lost in the Cosmos", the lead character attends Franklin.cite book|last=Percy|first=Walker|title=Lost in the Cosmos|publisher=Picador USA.|date=2000|location=New York, NY|pages=pg.49|isbn=0312253990]

Portions of the school's atrium and front entrance were used in the 2004 Disney Channel movie Stuck in the Suburbs. The school was also used for portions of the 2005 Lifetime Television movie Odd Girl Out.cite web|url=|format=PDF|title=The Franklin Forum|accessdate=2007-04-16|publisher="Benjamin Franklin High School"|pages=, No.5, pg 2|date=February 2005]

In Julie Smith's mystery novel "Louisiana Hotshot", murder victim Rhonda Bergeron is said to have graduated from Ben Franklin High School in New Orleans.cite book|last=Smith|first=Julie|title=Louisiana Hotshot|publisher = Tor.|date=2002|location=New York, NY|pages=pg.69|isbn=0765342928] In Ronald Everett Capps' novel "Off Magazine Street" (loosely adapted into the film A Love Song for Bobby Long), Byron Burns decides to send Hanna to Benjamin Franklin High School, a school "he had heard had a fair reputation."cite book|last=Capps|first=Ronald Everett| title=Off Magazine Street|publisher=MacAdam/Cage Pub.|date=2004|location=San Francisco, CA| pages=pg.198|isbn=1931561745]


External links

* [ Benjamin Franklin High School Official Website]
* [ Benjamin Franklin High School Association]
* [ Benjamin Franklin Alumni Association]


* [ Ben Franklin High School Scores/Ratings from]

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