Andrew Tanielian, NBC 5 News
The former DeSoto High School is re-branding itself as DeSoto University and focusing on a college prep framework.
This year DeSoto High School changed its name to Desoto University in hopes of raising student achievement and making students more serious about their classwork.
The rebranding better aligns the school with the college-prep reputation it's been building. The school added six academies including liberal arts, law and business.
The school's campus also expanded by a whopping 165,000 square feet.
Students say the name change has had an effect on them.
“We carry ourselves more at a higher level than others. We want to be known for having good character and good academics, just to be on a higher level than other schools,” said DeSoto senior Aubry Beal.
DeSoto students will also tell you that teachers are empowered by their enthusiasm and are open to letting them find new ways to learn.
For example, Advanced Placement English students studying for an SAT vocabulary test are all doing so in their own way. One group wrote a story incorporating the words so they could remember their meaning, another group beat-boxed a song.
Students are motivated to score high in the classroom in hopes that translates to high SAT scores that can help them get into the colleges they want.
Aspirations to go to college are what sparked the name change.
Last year's track team had some of the fastest times in the country and the team sent 40 students to college.
Teammates started calling their school “DeSoto U” and had shirts made to help raise money for the school.
Students loved the name and the shirts and administrators decided to use change the name to help develop a new culture that fosters a new level of accomplishment on campus.