Monday, September 19, 2011


Coca-Cola presents an oversized check for $25,000 to pay for the Sprite Spark Parks playground at Howe School of Excellence. (Photo by Brad)
Coca-Cola presented Howe School of Excellence, 720 North Lorel Avenue, with a new, state-of-the-art playground for students through a $25,000 grant from the Sprite Spark Parks for Schools fund. The colorful and shiny equipment includes climbing bars, rope ladders, swings, and spinning wheels to entertain kids at recess and keep them fit. Underneath it all is a soft cushion surface to keep them safe if they fall. The gift to Howe is part of a $2 million nationwide initiative by Sprite Spark Parks. Jewel-Osco is also a partner in the playground grant.

Howe students cut the ribbon officially opening their new Sprite Spark Parks playground. (Photo by Brad)
Howe School of Excellence is a Chicago Public School managed by Academy for Urban School Leadership, a specialist in turning around underperforming schools. This is the second major gift to Howe School. Last year, AUSL tore down a dilapidated classroom building to make way for a modern athletic field – a gift from the Midwest Soccer Federation and other sports promoters. AUSL has given the school building a full makeover, with extensive repairs, remodeling, and bright paint throughout.
    Principal Keisha Campbell notes that children are responding favorably to the school’s physical improvements and dynamic new staff. In just three years, the percentage of Howe students meeting and exceeding state academic standards has risen from 3% to over 70%. Suspensions are down 80% and attendance is over 90%.
Alderman Emma Mitts, a strong champion of Howe School of Excellence, praised the school faculty and staff for their accomplishments, and thanked Coca-Cola for its generosity and community spirit. Then she took a ride on the new merry-go-round.
    Barbara Lumpkin, Vice President of External Affairs for the Chicago Public Schools, told the adults to “Close your eyes and imagine the possibilities.” The ribbon was cut and children happily pushed the adults out of their world, claiming ownership of the new playground.

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