Getting into a Chicago Public School

July 3, 2008 at 12:00 pm Leave a comment

No, I’m not talking about winning the Magnet lottery or stalking the principal to show them how eager you are to send your kid there.  I am talking about the physical process of actually ENTERING a CPS building and the difficulty of finding the main entrance.

I cannot even count the number of times I have arrived at a school building, eager for a tour yet running late as usual.  I park and run towards the building.  Hmmm… all the doors look about the same.  Metal.  Unadorned.  No markings.  This would be exciting if I were trying to get into one of the cool nightclubs I’ve heard about that have no signs and you need to know where it is to get in.  But no, this is not cool.

Typically I approach the closest door first, looking wildly for a way to signal my entrance.  Nothing is ever just open, allowing a random stranger to enter.  No, our kids are clearly in vaults.  The doors are too thick for a knock to ever be heard inside.  No buttons or speakers are visible.  I must be at the wrong door.  Rats! The buildings are huge!  It’ll take me another 5 minutes to go around the block to another entrance.  Can’t some friendly janitor spot me and just let me sneak in? 

I silently curse the administration for not anticipating my needs and VOW that I will personally make signs for any school I am involved with.  I VOW that I will contact CPS and beg them to improve their signage efforts.  I VOW that I will leave earlier next time I go for a school tour.  Of course none of this ever happens.

So here are a few pointers for getting (your body) into a Chicago Public School.

  • Read the address carefully.  It seems like the Main Entrance typically faces the street of the address.
  • Speaking of Main Entrance, each CPS school has a Main Entrance sign posted at one doorway.  Once you learn this, you’re golden.  Somebody, at some point in time had the smart idea to keep consistency with the Main Entrance signs.  Trouble is, the sign is often a small, ratty piece of cardboard that is hard to spot from a distance.  Look for the sign with red stars and blue stripes..(that is the City of Chicago flag.)  Or sometimes an American flag.

    City of Chicago flag - look for it on the Main Entrance sign

    City of Chicago flag - look for it on the Main Entrance sign

  • The Main Entrance does not always LOOK like a main entrance.  Some are oddly non-descript and plain.
  • Don’t look for a bell/buzzer to tip you off.  These are typically small/dingy and made with a chameleonesque quality so that they blend in with the wall behind them.
  • If you are going to a school at non-school hours, well, good luck.  You’ll have better luck getting into the Pentagon.  If you’re lucky, someone will be walking out and you can slip in, free to do as you please.  If the staff are all in a meeting upstairs, you can stand there banging endlessly, as your knocks disappear into a black hole.  (OK, that is a bit dramatic, but it can be angst-producing if you are trying to drop off your lottery application and can’t get inside.) 
  • Keep your hand on the door as you wait to be buzzed in.  You’ll approximately a half-second to pull the door open once you hear the “click” sound.

Entry filed under: CPS. Tags: , .

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