Friday, April 30, 2010


This week marks the end of Chicago Academy student Jason Torres' internship with the VOICE.  GOOD LUCK JASON, and thanks for your hard work!

Feature story and photos by Jason Torres
Chicago Academy High School is the former Wright College campus at 3400 N. Austin Blvd. It shares the building with Chicago Academy Elementary School. Both institutions are Chicago Public Schools operated by the Academy for Urban School Leadership.

“To provide a supportive college preparatory environment for students and a collaborative mentoring experience for aspiring teachers” is the mission of local high school, Chicago Academy, an Academy for Urban School Leadership institution. AUSL “strives to improve student achievement in under-performing schools,” says Executive Director Dr. Donald Feinstein. The Academy for Urban School Leadership currently manages 14 Chicago Public Schools comprising approximately 8,000 students, with four additional schools being added in the fall of 2010.
    Located on 3400 North Austin Avenue, Chicago Academy High School is located in the former Wright College building, which it shares with the Chicago Academy Elementary School. Approximately 500 students attend Chicago Academy High School. “The school is in its 6th year and opened under Brian Sims,” relates current Principal Erin Clarkin. “It is a small high school focused on college prep and training teachers.”
    Chicago Academy takes a different and more trusting approach than traditional public high schools. “Chicago Academy High School has a safe environment,” declares Clarkin. The school does not require uniforms and does not force students to walk through metal detectors every day. Chicago Academy requires 26 credits to graduate, instead of the 24 that other Chicago Public High Schools require. “I knew the school would be different, it would have a different learning environment,” says Art Teacher David McKoski, who is an original staff member since the school opened in 2004.
    Chicago Academy takes pride in their teachers. “We have eight nationally certified teachers, with an average of eight years’ experience,” notes Principal Clarkin. The school also offers a resident teacher program, which trains young teachers to become full-time AUSL instructors. “This program is an invaluable way to introduce new teachers to the profession,” explains Resident English Teacher Bradford Capozzi.
    By having ninety-minute class blocks, students benefit from having more time to learn. They make sure that students are “college-read and work-ready after high school,” notes Feinstein. Every day, classes start at 8:00 AM and end between 2:45 and 3:20 PM, depending on the day. Lunch usually starts around noon, and is served to all students in one period. Monday is the only day that consists of 45-minute class periods. Tuesdays and Thursdays have class periods one through four, and Wednesdays and Fridays have class periods five through seven, with community-building time.
    Student conduct is considered very important and is strictly enforced. “Little things are a big deal,” says Ms Clarkin. “We do not tolerate lateness or talking back to adults.” Like every high school, detentions are given out and must be served at lunch. In-school suspensions have been replaced with three-hour after-school detentions.
    The CAHS Cougars take pride in their sports. The school offers boys and girls sports for all four seasons, including football, boys and girls soccer, girls softball, boys and girls basketball, baseball, and volleyball. “Sports have grown, observes senior student athlete Maggie Sumara. “They weren’t the best, but they are better now. The coaching staff is committed and push us because they know we can handle it.”
    Chicago Academy is a very dedicated school filled with people who love what they do and who want to give the best education possible. The school has not been in existence for very long, but is making a lot of progress and is becoming a solid high school. “It’s still new and still growing,” says McKoski. For information on course offerings and admission requirements, call 773/534-0146.
Jason Torres is a senior who attended all four years at Chicago Academy High School. He prepared this story as a Senior Intern at THE VOICE Newspapers. He will be attending North Park College in Chicago in the fall.
The coach gives the next play to the Chicago Academy Cougars football team.
Chicago Academy High School provides a full slate of competitive athletics for boys and girls throughout the year, including baseball & softball.
The Cougars boys basketball team competes as a varsity sport at CAHS.

1 comment:

  1. Great article! I am looking forward to finding out more about Chicago Academy soon! This place really gets me excited!