Gentrification debate meets AP Seminar

Out with the old, in with the new... and improved? English teacher Christine Dutrow’s AP Seminar explored this idea for its first research project that focused on gentrification in Columbus communities. Gentrification is the act of renovating and renewing districts, neighborhoods and businesses in order to appeal to middle class families.

There are several perspectives on gentrification. One of the main arguments against it asserts that it favors the middle class and therefore displaces lower classes, which consist disproportionately of minority citizens. The argument in favor of gentrification holds that renovation and renewal are good for everyone and creates a safer and more appealing community, according to

The AP seminar class focused on Franklinton, an area in West Columbus which is currently anticipating gentrification. The class explored this area and how gentrification could affect the community. Each student took the role of a different person being affected by gentrification in a given community, and then debated in favor of their assigned role.

“For our project and class debate, I played the role of a local of Franklinton. I conducted large amounts of research on how gentrification has affected other cities and what implications it had on the locals. In almost every city, the locals were displaced through gentrification and were left without homes and jobs,” junior Jackson Shiefelbein said.

This project was not only practice for the AP exam, but gave students a real- world experience that allowed them to explore the nuance of a complex social phenomenon.

“Students took on a role [residents of Franklinton, local developers, City Council members, police officers, etc.] and examined the possible gentrification of West Franklinton from their assigned perspective. As they began to understand the complexities of gentrification, they contacted their “real-life” counterparts through phone and Skype interviews. The project concluded with a mock debate around the following question: ‘Should the West Franklinton Plan be amended?” Dutrow said.

The AP Seminar class had the opportunity to talk to General Corporate Manager of Franklinton Board of Trade, Dr. Judy Box, who has a strong stance on and understanding of gentrification as a social dichotomy.

“As a nation, we have to address housing for the poor. Look up Section 8 housing programs by U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). It is a good program that keeps the poor in stable decent housing. Other programs throw money at the problem and folks move often. This disrupts kids’ schooling which adds to poverty in the next generation,” Box said.

The students who completed the project garnered new knowledge about gentrification and how to approach this very real and contemporary problem.

“This project helped me gain new perspective on how my lifestyle and others’ lifestyles in metropolitan Columbus have negatively affected people who are not as wealthy. The same things that are happening in Franklinton are happening throughout all of metropolitan Columbus as large developments and shopping centers are built, replacing the lifestyles of the original residents,” Schiefelbein said.

The AP Seminar class will be doing this project again next year with a few modi cations, which are not yet finalized.

“If I had more time, I would love to organize face-to-face interviews with community members. Also, Franklinton is growing and changing every day, so I will allow current events in Franklinton to dictate the direction of the project.” Dutrow said.


Print Editions

Online Editions


Orange Media publications are official student-produced mediums of news and information published by the Journalism students of Olentangy Orange High School. The publications have been established as a designated public forum for student journalists to inform, educate and entertain readers as well as for the discussion of issues of concern to their audience. They  will not be reviewed or restrained by school officials, adults or sources prior to publication.

The content of the publications is determined by and reflects only the views of the student staff and not school officials or the school itself. They will not publish any material, determined by the staff or adviser, that is libelous, obscene or disruptive to the school day.

The advisers are Kari Phillips and Brian Nicola. Readers may respond to the publications through Letters to the Editor. Letters may be mailed, e-mailed to or dropped off to room 2223. The staff asks that submissions be 300 words or less and contain the author’s name and signature. Editors reserve the right to edit or withhold publication of letters.

The publications strive to uphold the Canons of Professional Journalism, which includes accuracy, impartiality, etc. Therefore, major errors will be corrected in the next issue. Distinction will be marked between news and opinion stories.

This site was designed with the
website builder. Create your website today.
Start Now