Friday, January 21, 2011


Celebrities from television, radio, and music descended upon Morton School of Excellence, 431 North Troy Street in East Garfield Park, joining executives from the Illinois Lottery and Burrell Advertising, parents, teachers, and students volunteering to transform the school library into an exciting Multi-media Center. The project was part of Raise A Hand Illinois, an annual program of the Illinois Lottery, demonstrating its commitment to education and designed to empower schools by improving learning environments across the state. The volunteer work occurs every year on the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday and throughout the year.
A festive crew worked at painting murals, replacing windows, carrying in new furniture, exchanging old books for newer volumes, and transforming a dreary, unused space into a modern, inviting Multi-media Center. Ed Sanders, star of Extreme Makeover: Home Edition supervised the remodeling and installed new window treatments.
Ramonski Luv of V103 and Tony Sculfield of WGCI acted as cheerleaders keeping morale high among the 150 volunteers. A radiant and extremely pregnant Drew Sidora (actress appearing on TV’s The Game and Disney’s That’s So Raven) sorted and shelved books while signing autographs and being interviewed by students. Singer Slique carried tables and chairs.
Angel Turner, Principal of Morton School of Excellence, supervised the Extreme Library Makeover: School Edition with 27th Ward Alderman Walter Burnett, Jr. By lunchtime, the old library had become the Multi-media Center and the ribbon was cut.
Since being taken over by the Academy of Urban School Leadership two years ago, when Morton was one of Chicago’s poorest performing public schools, enrollment has increased to 328 students in Pre-K through 8th grade and test scores are surging upward. AUSL performed a total turnaround of Morton, replacing the entire faculty and administration, remodeling the school, and changing the philosophy of Morton to success through high achievement. This year, Morton graduates were accepted to the new Westinghouse and other selective enrollment high schools.

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