Hidden Gems High School Fair Sept 28th

September 10, 2014 at 8:08 pm 111 comments

That time of year is coming up… the time to start lookin’ at schools!  Yeah!

I don’t know what’s better than a fair with rides and corndogs, than a school fair with tables, flyers, and Principals!

Truly though, these school fairs are a great way to meet a lot of the leaders of some of the “off the radar” high schools.

Anyone who has read this blog for a while knows that the key theme for parents when applying to high schools is “cast a wide net.”  That net will feel much more strategic and comfortable if you really get to know some of the high school options in the city.  I had a lot of great one on one conversations there last year.  The list ranges from neighborhood high schools to private, so take you pick.

I have more high school open house info, as soon as I get organized and find it.  If you know of other events parents should know about to tour the high schools, feel free to post in the comments.


“Hidden Gems” Chicago High School Fair presented by Chicago School GPS

Sunday, September 28, 2014 @ 2-5 p.m.

St. Benedict College Preparatory High School, 3900 N. Leavitt (enter on Bell, south of Irving Park Road)

RSVP online for reduced admission and a chance to win raffle prizes

Join Chicago School GPS at our 3rd Annual Hidden Gems High School Fair where we will introduce you to “hidden gem” public and private Chicago high school options.  This event is geared to middle school parents and students.  In addition to hearing from “hidden gem” high schools in a forum setting, parents can attend planned seminars on:

  • High school admissions process

  • Private school scholarships

  • Executive functioning for middle schoolers

  • “Mini boot camp” on entrance essays

  • Entrance test strategies, and

  • Peer to peer info sessions for middle schoolers.

Come learn how to “widen your net” and find multiple Chicago high schools to meet your family’s needs!

Participating Schools include public, charter, independent, parochial, and boarding schools.  The list so far:
St. Benedict’s Prep
Beacon Academy
Wolcott School
Chicago Academy for the Arts
Intrinsic School
Chicago Hope Academy
Chicago HS for the Arts(ChiArts)
Harbridge College Prep Academy
Westinghouse College Prep
DePaul College Prep (Gordon Tech)
Disney II Magnet
Resurrection College Prep
Alcott College Prep
Chicago Waldorf School
Rickover Naval Academy
Global Citizenship Experience
Senn High School
Luther North
GEMS World Academy
St. Patrick High School
Willows Academy
Lake View High School
Chicago Virtual Charter School
La Lumiere School
De La Salle Institute
British School of Chicago
Amundsen High School
Notre Dame for Girls
Noble Network
Scattergood Friends School
Von Steuben (Scholars)
Notre Dame College Prep



Entry filed under: High school.

Sun Times/Blaine Principal Analysis shows neighborhood schools outperform charters on MAP growth Fall 2014 – Applying to Kindergarten / Elementary School

111 Comments Add your own

  • 1. cpsobsessed  |  September 10, 2014 at 8:10 pm

    And below are the open house dates for the SEHS:

    Brooks College Prep High School
    250 E. 111th St.
    Saturday, November 1, 2014 9 a.m. to 12 noon

    Jones College Prep High School
    606 S. State St.
    Saturday, October 18, 2014 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

    King College Prep High School
    4445 S. Drexel Blvd.
    Saturday, November 8, 2014 9 a.m. to 12 noon

    Lane Tech High School
    2501 W. Addison St.
    Sunday, November 2, 2014 12 noon to 3 p.m.

    Lindblom Math & Science Academy
    6130 S. Wolcott St.
    Saturday, November 1, 2014 12:30 p.m. to 2:30 p.m.

    Northside College Prep High School
    5501 N. Kedzie Ave.
    Sunday, October 26, 2014 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.

    Payton College Prep High School
    1034 N. Wells Ave.
    Saturday, November 8, 2014 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

    South Shore International High School
    1955 E. 75th St.
    Saturday, November 15, 2014 10 a.m. to 12 noon

    Westinghouse High School
    3223 W. Franklin Blvd.
    Saturday, November 8, 2014 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.

    Young Magnet High School
    211 S. Laflin St.
    Sunday, October 19, 2014 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.

  • 2. marcsims  |  September 10, 2014 at 8:14 pm

    Is the Black male drop out rate still 50%?

  • 3. Chicago School GPS  |  September 10, 2014 at 8:54 pm

    Thanks, CPSO! We have a great group of schools this year! And be sure to meet and talk to the student ambassadors that the schools bring. Your middle schooler can ask whatever questions they like to the current high schoolers to get the “inside scoop” on what it’s REALLY like at these schools and at high school in general. These students were in their shoes not so long ago, and had to make similar choices and are happy to share their experiences. My favorite peer-to-peer question submitted so far is, “What would you tell your 7th grade self now that you are in HS?”

    If the RSVP link is not working well, try this: http://www.chischoolgps.com/CSG_HS_Fair_Registration.php

  • 4. Chicago School GPS  |  September 10, 2014 at 9:03 pm

    For lots of Open House/Tour dates, check out our CSG Calendar: http://www.chischoolgps.com/Calendar.php

    Be sure to click on or off the desired lists under the arrow next to the “Agenda” tab.

  • 5. Jeth B  |  September 11, 2014 at 5:07 am

    The variety looks good and every child will find their proper place. This tidbit from that Chicago Mag article is interesting (excerpt):

    “…he and his wife realized that moving their son to Jones had been the wrong decision—mainly because Anderson reported not feeling challenged by the schoolwork. “Anderson said he was going over things he had learned three years earlier [at British]…”

  • 6. klm  |  September 11, 2014 at 6:12 am


    I remember reading that and wondering, “Huh –for real or is this an exageration?”

    Does anybody know much about the British School after 8th grade? How tough is it to get into for HS, etc?

    I know a few families that send their kids to the British School and they’re generally very happy with it, but I’ve noticed that the HS equivalent has a low enrollment. One of the familes at one of my kid’s RGC had all their kids at the British School and they were happy there (I’m guessing they went CPS to avoid paying $90k+/yr. in after-tax income) and they are happy at the RGC and other SE CPS schools (so they tell me). However, the one area that they said was lacking even at the best CPS schools vs. the British School was Langauge Arts (reading, writing, grammer, etc.). I know many of us have expressed concerns over the way that even the best CPS schools seem to do a relatively poor job at getting kids to write well. I wonder if that’s the issue that “Anderson’s'” dad had with Jones, since I’m fairly certain that 9th graders at Jones can have rigorous math and science classes.

    My sister sent my niece to a Catholic grade school for a few years and it was real Old School in teaching language arts: structure, script vocab., grammatical emphasis, lots of practice, practice, practice with red markings pointing out all that she did wrong, etc. The previous public school was a “good” one, but they did the modern “do enough ‘journaling’ on your own without too much negative feedback from teachers and good writing will just come organically” method (which I think has been proven wrong and critiqued by many educators and parents). When my niece was in 9th grade, she was way ahead of most of her classmates, because she knew how to spell, write, use lead phrases, etc., (i.e., write an organized essay) while even some of the “good” students in her classes had issues –they simply never were taught how to write properly and were behind in that way.

    I’m a strong supporter of public education and CPS, but when it comes to teaching the fine art of writing well, I’m afraid that this really is one area where some private schools are genuinely ahead.

  • 7. pantherparent  |  September 11, 2014 at 9:39 am

    At least we finally have an explanation where the notion that British School is 3 years ahead of selective enrollment high schools came from. Because one kid told his parents that. Good enough for me.

    Maybe Anderson should contact Newsweek as well and fill them in since they just ranked Jones as the 9th best high school in Illinois. Just think where they’d be if they kept up with British.

  • 8. IB Obsessed  |  September 11, 2014 at 10:01 am

    In my experience, you are spot on. There is an over use of journaling that no one really reads, as well as overuse of “peer review” of writing, in CPS. Analyzing peer writing certainly is helpful in ability to identify ineffective writing, but in my experience it often mostly replaces teacher review. Unless most in the class are at a threshold level of writing competence; it is the blind leading the blind. It can be an ed. technique that is an excuse for teachers to take the easy way out of coping with large class sizes.

  • 9. CPS mom  |  September 11, 2014 at 1:03 pm

    So, Newsweek posted best 500 high schools and Payton is not on the list. On the list are Northside, Jones, Young and Lane Tech…..
    I am puzzled by this as Payton was often hand in hand with Northside. Are we loosing Payton? Please tell me this is a mistake….

  • 10. klm  |  September 11, 2014 at 1:07 pm


    Certainly, everything needs to be taken with a grain of salt.

    I remember when we were looking at houses and the real-estate agent told me that she went to Parker N-8, then her family moved to Winnetka and she then went to New Trier, where “she was 2 years ahead of everybody else.” I told this story to a friend with 2 kids at Parker and that went to New Trier herself and she burst out laughing –it was so silly. My friend said that kids at Parker kids obviously get a good education, but the idea that, on average, 9th grade kids at Parker are where kids are at New Trier in 11th grade is just completely wrong. If anything, she said, the coddled kids at Parker would often flounder and get eaten alive at a competition-heavy, big school like New Trier where teachers don’t bend to make tuition-paying parents happy. I remember reading that the ave. ACT at Parker is 28. At New Tier it’s 27.7 –and that includes enrollment of every public school kid in the area, not selective enrollment and kicking some kids out after 2nd or 8th grade, etc., that aren’t “up to snuff (like is done at Parker).

    So kids at the British School are doing in 6th grade what 9th graders are doing at Jones?

    Come on.

    Yes, there’s probably something to be said about writing instruction at some schools, but no way are lots of 12-year-old kids at the British School.doing what ave. 15-year-old kids are doing at Jones.

    Who would seriously believe that?

  • 11. klm  |  September 11, 2014 at 1:18 pm


    That list is far from being 100% scientific, at least in determining which schools really are “the best” academically.

    Remember a few years ago when LPHS was ranked 65th in the country, way ahead of New Trier, Greenwich, Hinsdale Central, Scarsdale,… (i.e., the public schools that are recognized as the ‘best’ by most college admissions counselors) etc? I get that they do some kind of “formula” to make it easier for higher-poverty schools to move up, but still.

    Looking at schools on that list that are way further up than others that are famously “good” makes me wonder how exactly they came up with the list (and this was even after reading their explanation and formula).

  • 12. Laura McHugh  |  September 11, 2014 at 2:22 pm

    We used to be a British School family – and now are not. In my opinion ( and I’m sure others would disagree) the ” 3 years ahead” is the party line the school feeds families, however my child was actually behind her peers when we moved her to a catholic school in middle school -(with writing being the most noticeable deficit). Not knowing anything at all about the family who left Jones ( except they are talked about by the headmaster in every single school meeting) I might guess that it could have been a social change going from a school with 20ish per grade (in the upper years) to a large CPS school.

  • 13. british school system  |  September 11, 2014 at 3:54 pm

    In a way the kid’s comment about Jones, and the ratings for Jones could both be right.
    I started elementary school in Britain, and while I don’t know how it works now, at that time high school ended at 16, followed by 2 years of what would be like IB prep, basically college level courses. So it wouldn’t surprise me that a British school student would be a couple of years ahead at grade 9.
    I have a neighbor with a daughter who graduated from Jones, and she managed to take enough AP courses to get college credit and as good an education as the British school. Maybe if the British School student had waited it out 1 year past the introductory courses, he’d have found it equal.

  • 14. klm  |  September 11, 2014 at 4:38 pm


    From what I understand, schools in the UK are a lot like those in the US: the highs are really high and the lows are really low, many are in the middle. People with real money in the UK typically go private (like in the US), people move for the “right” (i.e., high-achieving) goverment schools for their kids, there’s lots of debate about how to improve public schools (especially low-performing urban ones), decrease the achievement gap (although in the UK it’s low-income whites that are the worst performing), etc.

    I believe that if somebody’s coming from a “good” school (public or private) they’re ahead of somebody coming from a “bad” school (public or private), but per results on tests (PISA, TIMMS) students in the UK aren’t 2 years ahead of their American peers. I don’t think that it’s what you meant, so I know I’m likely being a over reactive, here.

  • 15. HS Mom  |  September 11, 2014 at 8:39 pm

    The amazing thing about Jones and many other CPS HS’s (selective and otherwise) is that kids who are “2 years ahead” have the option of testing into higher level courses. Jones has a placement test specifically for private school students.

    @13 – “I started elementary school in Britain, and while I don’t know how it works now, at that time high school ended at 16, followed by 2 years of what would be like IB prep, basically college level courses.”

    IB is offered at certain schools here and kicks into gear after 2 years of HS as well. Same comparison. College Prep does seem to be different from IB – not sure that you could say one is “behind” the other.

    12 – Laura – good point – I can certainly see that there would be a social issue. I think most kids have issues adjusting initially and possibly well into sophomore year. Everyone is coming from a diverse background economically, educationally, racially and from a wide range of schools. If you have even a handful of students from the same school, chances are they are not “best buddies”. I can understand why some people would get cold feet about the program if they have another option that they feel is better suited – for whatever reason. Too bad they couldn’t hold out…..they missed the best part.

  • 16. pantherparent  |  September 12, 2014 at 7:27 am

    @9 and @10 Rumor has it that Payton not being on the list is actually the simplest explanation. They missed the deadline for submitting data.

  • 17. HS Mom  |  September 12, 2014 at 8:35 am

    @9 That was Newsweek report. The big one that is probably more famous for it’s rankings is US News Report. Payton is on that list.


  • 18. (ex) CPS Parent  |  September 12, 2014 at 9:33 am

    Two issues with a common denominator. During my 8 years at Payton I saw the workload for most teachers increase as the budget was cut year after year. Grading written work is time consuming and even the most motivated teacher can’t do their best when responsible for hundreds of papers compared with dozens per teacher in the private high schools. Similarly, Payton went from being appropriately staffed in the office to having virtually no clerical support. Budget dollars were used to maximize teacher positions. Hearing that a deadline with a news publication was missed is no surprise.

  • 19. HSObsessed  |  September 12, 2014 at 11:24 am

    @13 – That was my first thought about the story of the Jones freshman returning to British School. If he was so bored, why didn’t he continue at Jones, sign up for 6 AP classes each year for the next three years, and graduate with straight As and half his college credit already finished? I’d guess that there were a lot more factors involved with the transfer back to British rather than just “not academically challenged enough”.

  • 20. cpsobsessed  |  September 12, 2014 at 11:44 am

    In high school news, Taft has eliminated the uniforms.


  • 21. mom2  |  September 12, 2014 at 1:32 pm

    Glad Taft took this action. It certainly gives outsiders a more positive perspective on the school when the administration believes the gang issue has been eliminated and that students that go there can be trusted. I hate when I attend a school open house and the first thing discussed is how they handle trouble and discipline. Completely sends the wrong message.

    Does Lake View still have a dress code? If so, I hope they make this change, too.

  • 22. IB Obsessed  |  September 12, 2014 at 1:52 pm

    @18 The continual budget cuts, which affect even SHESs, are the main reason moving to a suburb for HS is still ‘on the table’ as a possibility at my house. Even cuts to ‘just’ clerical staff trickles down to compromise academic and instructional quality and even at SE schools

  • 23. CLB  |  September 12, 2014 at 2:24 pm

    @14 I don’t know about two years, but the UK (v. England itself) was 2012 mean PISA math score was at the OECD average, but the US was below average. In science, the UK was above the average; the US was at the average. The US and UK were both average in reading.
    PISA is done by age (15) not grade.

    Click to access PISA-2012-results-UK.pdf

    The most recent TIMMS has the US and England (not the UK) at the same level for both 4th and 8th grade (see exhibit 1.3 and 1.4)

    Click to access T11_IR_M_Chapter1.pdf

  • 24. klm  |  September 12, 2014 at 5:41 pm


    I think even these tests are not necessarily 100% accurate, either (who picks which kids take the test, do the kids represenet the country’s demographics fairly, etc.), but they mean something. I saw the same things –kids in the U.S. are not 2 years behind kids in the UK, going into HS.

    Plus, let’s remember that kids going to Jones often went to “really good” schools (public and private) themselves, had to have good grades and high test scores, so they’re not a bunch of slackers. If the kid from the British School were really 2 grades ahead of the 9th graders at Jones, wouldn’t he have been more likely to be going to Payton or Northside, since he surely would have scored at the 98.5+ percentile?

    I think sometimes people that pays lots of money for a private school often are easily convinced that their kids will be 2 years ahead, since, well, their kids’ school is just plain more expensive (a Mercedes S-class is objectively a better car than a Ford, isn’t it?). Plus, the classes are small (no 30 kids in 1st grade) , no teachers that can’t be fired because of tenure, no kids that are out of control and with parents that aren’t involved, , etc., “like in public schools.”

    I’ll say this, then shut up. Several years ago, when we were touring one of the Big Three pravate schools (I used to be convinced that there weren’t really aren’t ‘good’ CPS schools comparable to the better pravates, too.), one of the 12th graders came to talk to our group, tell what he liked about the school, answer questions, etc. He mentioned that he tranferred into the school at 8th grade, after his family moved to the city from the suburbs (he didn’t say which one). One parent asked if he felt that he was “behind” once enrolled at Name Private School and I could tell that people wanted to hear, “Oh yeah, the money you spend here will be so worth it –your kids will be so far ahead of kids at even the ‘good’ public schools.” Instead, he said, “No –they were pretty equivalent.” Some people almost seemed disappointed, since if their kid got into that school, they hoped it would be The Golden Ticket entree into the “right” path in life surrounded by the “right” kind (smart, from good homes and very interested in going to a Name college and doing what it takes, then a great job, etc.) of people.

    Also, my friend that mentioned above that went to New Trier and with 2 kids at Parker. Her oldest went to a neighborhood CPS school for K-4 (and not Lincoln) before he finally got into Parker. I asked her if he was “behind” when he was in 5th grade, having gone to a CPS school (one that’s considered ‘good’, but not ‘the best’) and she “No –his public school was great.”

    Don’t get me wrong. Many private schools are great and really are a better fit for some kids. We have experience at private school for some of our kids for a while –their schools really were great and worth the money. There’s a reason many private schools get way more applications than spaces. Many of the schools above sound great –we’ll be considering them when HS rolls around for at least some (maybe for all if 7th grade doesn’t go straight A’s) of my kids. It’s just that a high-performing public school is often just as good as any private school for most kids, I’m convinced. That’s why we pulled our kids from private schools and enrolled then at CPS ones that are genuinely great. We have no regrets, either.

  • 25. Mark J  |  September 12, 2014 at 6:05 pm

    “We have no regrets, either.”

    Based on that long reply it seems like you do have some regrets and are trying to justify you move. But in life, choices need to be made. Lower quality ed but more cash in the bank or higher quality and less savings. Quit kicking yourself and move on. America needs middle managers too. Things will be ok.

  • 26. pantherparent  |  September 12, 2014 at 6:37 pm

    @25 Mark J I think you proved klm’s point. You seem to be one that believes If you pay more, it must be better. Loyola, Ignatius, and Mt Carmel are great schools. But you won’t convince me they are any better than Payton, Northside and Jones.

    By any objective measure, they are virtually equal, so many privateers, like yourself, resort to the unquantifiable. What is “quality”? Who knows? But it doesn’t matter. Private schools are better because they say they are.

    And they’re three years ahead.

  • 27. CLB  |  September 12, 2014 at 7:10 pm

    @24 I don’t think the median UK school is two-years ahead than a median US school, but UK was doing better on PISA than the US did.

    Anecdotes are anecdotes: whether it is the British School student finding Jones less than impressive in 9th grade, the Parker-educated real-estate agent finding New Trier less challenging, or the New Trier alum with students at Parker being skeptical of real estate agent.

    It wouldn’t surprise me that the 1st month of 9th grade at an SEHS would seem repetitive to a kid out of a good private school. A Jones teacher has to deal with students from many different schools and get a bead on where everyone is before taking off. There is much more continuity in private school. I sat through a 9th grade biology class at a new HS that was a repeat of my 7th and 8th grade science classes at a private school. However, transferring out in the 1st month seems to be an over-reaction.

    What is Jones or Payton like v. Parker or Latin? I have no idea. But the differences are not going to show up in composite ACT scores.

  • 28. klm  |  September 13, 2014 at 8:08 am


    I really don’t have regrets, largely because of the background, context and facts that I’ve seen and that are all around me.

    I’ve mentioned this before, but what really changed my mind about CPS was the spouse of my spouse’s best friend from HS. She used to teach at a Name private school in NYC (Collegiate, Trinity, Dalton, …-type) before she moved to Chicago and then quit teaching to raise her kids. However, she did/does tutor kids in the evening and on weekends (she charges a lot, so only people with decent incomes could afford her), so she saw what kids at Parker, Latin, Lab, City Day, etc., were doing in school. She also was able to see what kids at Lincoln and other “good” CPS schools (LaSalle, Bell,…. some RGCs, too.) were doing. She was impressed by the CPS schools enough to the point that when it was time, she enrolled her kids in one. She’s the one that talked me into seriously considering CPS, given that she’s had experience teaching at one of the best private schools in the country, then tutored kids from some of the best private and public schools in Chicago, having gone over homework, seen the curriculum and relative rigor, etc. at these schools.

    I’ve seen kids in my neighborhood go CPS K-12 (starting at the neighborhood elementary K-8, not Edison RGC or Decatur Classical) and end up at Yale, Amherst, Northwestern, U-Chicago, Johns Hopkins, Carnegie-Mellon Engineering (and these kids were ‘unhooked’, not URMs or world-class athletes). I have no idea where they’ll end up in 20 years, but they aren’t stuck on the road-to-nowhere middle-management if they don’t want that, believe me (not that there’s anything wrong with that –an OK, 8-5 job with a good health plan, paid 4 weeks of vacation and a matching 401k is not something to sneer at, these days).

    I’ve also known people (have enough kids at different preschools/elementary schools and hang out at playgrounds and set up play dates and it’s amazing the number of converstions and stories one gets) from my neighborhood CPS school whose kids have gone on to Latin, Lab and East Coast prep schools (e.g., Milton) after 8th grade and guess what? They weren’t “behind” when they enrolled at these schools.

    Accordingly, choosing CPS (and I know I’m being kinda’ unfair, since I’m talking the high-scoring CPS schools, not the majority) is not a “Oh well, maybe my kids will do alright anyway, depite not going to Parker or Scred Heart, so they’ll be a little ‘disadvanteged’ academically, but at least we’ll save a boat-load of cash.” dilemma/choice.

    Again, I understand that not all CPS schools are “good” ones (I’d avoid most of them, honestly), but we did the research, found “good” ones (got lucky with some SE ones, too, but not for all my kids, but that’s OK since our neighborhood CPS school is among the best in Illinois [ave. ISATs higher than any public school in the North Shore or Hinsdale/Oakbrook areas], not just Chicago) and honestly don’t have regrets. The kids from my kids’ CPS K-8 schools go on to do great things, just like kids at the best private schools. Look at the scores kids from CPS schools like Lincoln, Bell, Hawthorne, Edison RGC, Decatur, … get. They blow kids in Glencoe, Lake Forest and Winnetka away, especially if one compares the scores of same ethnicity and same family income (i.e., non non-low income) kids. No way are these kids suddenly going to crash and burn when they get to 9th grade at SICP or Lab (or Northside or Payton for that matter) –they’re well prepared, score well on tests, and many go on to the “best” colleges. What they do with all that is up to them (I’m old enought to know that one’s income at 45 isn’t necessarily an indicator of one’s personal happiness and satisfaction with work –many Harvard PH.D.’s happily teach at liberal arts colleges with relatively modest incomes, while some Harvard Law grads work so much that they’re divorced 2 times and have distant relationships with their kids. A stereotype I know, but there’s some truth to it, we all know).

  • 29. Public vs. Private  |  September 13, 2014 at 3:45 pm

    I’m a believer of public education. My kids attend our neighborhood school and despite the “usual” CPS issues (i.e., overcrowding, old building), they’re thriving academically. That being said, it concerns me quite a bit when their esteemed tutor (who lives in Lincoln Park and has many middle school aged clients who attend Lincoln, Lab and Parker) says that her Lab and Parker clients are significantly ahead of her Lincoln clients. Knowing that Lincoln is one of the “good” CPS schools, it makes me wonder if our middle school experience won’t be as satisfactory as our elementary one has been. As such, I’m starting the process of applying to a few private schools for our oldest to test the waters. Time will tell, however, if we end up making the switch. Of course, this is all in preparation for helping them get in and, most importantly, succeed at a desirable city H.S.

  • 30. @29  |  September 13, 2014 at 4:48 pm

    I’m inclined to agree with klm, rather than @29. Are the kids who see tutors a representative sample? It’s likely that parents with kids at Parker and Latin are much more willing/able to hire tutors, even when their kids are doing pretty well. The public school kids are more likely to get a tutor only when they are far behind.
    How do the kids in the top 10% or 25% at Parker/Latin and Lincoln compare? That is more interesting to me than how the kids who are struggling compare.

  • 31. Public vs. Private  |  September 13, 2014 at 5:28 pm

    To clarify, our tutor based her assessment on the curriculum at each of these schools, not on the perceived intelligence of said clients. It’s her belief that Latin and Parker kids are being taught at higher levels than those at Lincoln. (FWIW, she never said they’re three years behind, per the Jones vs. British discussion; just behind.) Considering that only 14.6% of Lincoln students are low income, I don’t think you can assume they’re less likely than Latin and Parker students to seek out academic enrichment just for the heck of it. After all, private families already shell out $25K/year in tuition, whereas public families get their education more or less for free. That’s the rational behind getting tutoring for our CPS educated kids. They’re far from struggling; we’ve chosen to invest a small fraction of the money we’re saving from going public toward keeping them competitive, or ideally ahead of their peers (in both public and private settings).

  • 32. momof3fish  |  September 13, 2014 at 5:41 pm

    Im just curious, if your child is so far ahead why all the tutors? Call me crazy, but I only hire a tutor if my kids don’t get it. I’ve only hired a tutor a couple of times to blitz a subject matter (and it was for a few times only)

  • 33. Public vs. Private  |  September 13, 2014 at 5:56 pm

    Mostly because our kids really like it; they’ve been going since kindergarten. The tutor makes learning fun with games and such. When life occasionally gets in the way and we have to cancel, they’re bummed. She plays to their strengths and works on their weaknesses. It’s also proven to be helpful to nip any stumbling blocks in the bud before they potentially become a barrier. And we’re only talking an hour per week.

    The way we see it, why mess with a good thing??

  • 34. Public vs. Private  |  September 13, 2014 at 6:05 pm

    Also, I never said my kids are far ahead. In fact, I started by saying I’m concerned that if Lincoln curriculum is indeed behind Latin and Parker curriculum, then it stands to reason that just because mine are thriving at their neighborhood school doesn’t mean they’re up to par with private school students. They’ll all be competing for the same H.S. seats one day and it’s a priority for our family to stay on top of it. Tutoring has been one tool that we feel will help make this happen, though no guarantees.

  • 35. Curious  |  September 13, 2014 at 6:52 pm

    How does a tutor go about determining whether a student is exactly “3 years ahead”. Also, if a child is actually 2 or 3 years ahead why not enroll in SEES or RGC? Or is it that you think they will become “3 years ahead” students by going to select private schools. Following this line of thinking, your kids will be 3 years behind if they start in middle school. Just trying to understand the strategy.

  • 36. Public vs. Private  |  September 13, 2014 at 7:19 pm

    @Curious: Are you talking to me? If so, you should go back and re-read what I wrote. Our tutor didn’t imply private school students are three years ahead of public school students. That seems ridiculous, even to me. I was simply referring to a prior discussion on this thread about a Jones freshman.

  • 37. Curious  |  September 13, 2014 at 7:35 pm

    Yes I see that now, sorry for the confusion. “significantly” ahead, unquantified

  • 38. Curious  |  September 13, 2014 at 7:38 pm

    If the desirable HS option is a CPS SE school, isn’t there a risk in transferring to an elite private only to get a B in a program that may be “significantly” ahead?

  • 39. H Davis  |  September 13, 2014 at 8:01 pm

    Intelligence is genetic. As far as acheivement, public or private is not going to change IQ. A hard working student will do well at either. “Critical thinking” skills may improve at private but ACT scores won’t (but SAT 2 scores will). Initiative will drive success in the long run.

    The high school attended may help in college admissions just as being an under represented minority would greatly help in admission that would not be possible otherwise.

  • 40. klm  |  September 14, 2014 at 8:56 am

    Re; private vs. public

    I know that ISATs (now other tests) aren’t evrything, but….

    Fow whatever reason (mainly through mu spouse –work, friends from college, HS), I know lots of people that live in Glencoe, Winnetka, Kenilworth, etc., and usually they moved there so that their kids can eventually go to New Trier. New Trier’s such a good school (considered by some to be the best open-enrollment HS in the country, given not only the academics, but all the ‘extas”). A few of these people are genuinely weatlthy (not just good jobs but family money on one otr both sides). Some kids in Kenilworth and Winnetka (especially if their parents are originally from the East Coast) go the Exeter, Hotchkiss, or other St. Grottlesex -type prep schools after 8th grade (and even then, they will have attended a public school like Sears for K-8, since the public schools in these communities are consideres as good as any prive ones in the area). However, most kids that stay home for HS, no matter how rich their parents (e.g., Bruce Rauner’s kids, some of the Pritzker kids [Liesel and her brother]) or no where their parents went to college, go public and eventually enroll at New Trier. The only people I’ve know that didn’t enroll their kids at New Trier chose a school like Roycemore or North Shore Country Day because New Trier’s not the best fit for their kids (too much competetition, to big, etc.). Accordingly, looking at test scores, the “good” CPS schools have ISATs just as high or higher than the K-8 public feeder schools in Kenilworth, Winnetka, etc.

    So, it seems to me, that if a CPS school has kids achieving as high or higher than kids at feeder schools to New Trier, it means that these schools really are “good.”

    Also, knowing and getting to know enough people, there are lots of people from my kids CPS public schools that went to colleges like (and these are actual colleges attended by parents from my kids’ classmates that I’ve become friendly with) Princeton, Caltech, MIT, Northwestern, Bowdoin, Dartmouth….. Same with graduate degrees, in many cases. Many are physicians, finance executives, lawyers with Name law firms, professors at Northwestern, etc. In other words, these are educated people that really know what a good education is and what it takes to reaslly make it an be very successful –and they’re sending their kids to CPS schools. To the extent that this country has an “elite,” they fit the definition, in most cases.

    Now, I’m not for a second saying a school’s “better” because some parents went to prestige colleges and/or have high-paying prestige jobs.. What I am saying is that if certain CPS schools are really good enough to attract and keep families where the parents are well educated, have good jobs and could easily move to Wilmette or Winnetka or pay tuition, it means something. A person like that, in my experience, wouldn’t send their kid to a school that’s not going to properly educate their kids. Thus, it kinda’ makes me feel better and have more confidence in my kids’ CPS schools, combined with the objective measure of high ISATs that seem to prove their worth.

  • 41. Just a thought  |  September 15, 2014 at 3:42 pm

    Well, this went off the rails real quick. I was hoping more people would be talking about the schools on this list rather than bring it back to SEHS and the creeping inferiority complex when it comes to New Trier.

    So, I will get it started…I know firsthand that St. Ben’s is really continuing their turnaround, and Gordon Tech is really just beginning theirs. Are people open to such schools, knowing that some kids thrive better in a small school environment than a large one?

    Does anyone have some experience with some of these other schools?

    And I find it hilarious that La Lumiere, a school stuck in the bogs of Northern Indiana, snuck into this event.

  • 42. Chicago School GPS  |  September 15, 2014 at 3:53 pm

    We actually have schools farther afield than Northern Indiana. Some small, non-traditional boarding schools are reaching out and we are happy to have come because a school fit really does mean different things for different people.

    A very unique aspect of the afternoon is that schools will give a brief “what makes our school unique” speech at the start of the Fair (2PM), and families who may never have considered “xyz” school end up stopping by their booth because of something they said at the opening remarks that piqued their interest. Schools like this a lot because it helps dispel preconceptions that families have when they walked in the door. It’s always most enlightening for attendees to hear that portion.

  • 43. Just a thought  |  September 15, 2014 at 4:08 pm

    That is great, but my experience with LaLum and its faculty/alumni color my perception.

  • 44. Vikingmom  |  September 15, 2014 at 5:07 pm

    @41 When my daughter (a junior at Amundsen) was looking at high schools she went to a shadow day at both St. Ben’s and Gordon (although is it now Depaul College Prep or something??) She liked the feel of both but unfortunately it would have been too financially difficult for us at the time. She has really thrived in the Amundsen IB program (as I’ve gone on about before, hehe) and has a nice group of friends. Her sibling just started at another school on the list, 7th grade at Disney II. A very different experience but so far it is great for him–not athletic, slightly nerdy, better in this small environment. Enthusiastic teachers, amazing principal, and beautiful new computer lab. We intend, at least this early in the game, for him to remain at Disney through 12th grade.

  • 45. cpsobsessed  |  September 15, 2014 at 9:16 pm

    Friends of Amundsen meeting this thursday 9/19.
    Meet Amundsen Principal Anna Pavichevich. Talk with Aldermen O’Connor and Pawar about Amundsen High School and the K-12 experience in our community. Hear from Dr. Maureen Gillette about Amundsen’s important partnership with Northeastern Illinois University. Members of the AHS Local School Council and Friends of Amundsen board members will also be on hand.

    Everyone is invited: parents, neighbors and friends in search of a quality neighborhood high school. Please come!

  • 46. SoxSideIrish4  |  September 15, 2014 at 10:59 pm

    24. klm | September 12, 2014 at 5:41 pm

    We have friends who decided for certain reasons to move to the city from a very wealthy suburb. I talked up CPS as much as I could. They decided to try it for a semester and if it wasn’t up to their standards, they’d go parochial. For almost 6 months before the move, the mother kept saying how her two kids would be bored at CPS, would be so much more advanced coming from their very well known wealthy elementary school, etc. I would just reply, well give it a try and it if it’s horrible, pull them out. They enrolled, loved it and stayed for 4-5 years until after 8th grade graduation. They were shocked at how advanced the CPS school was and what was being introduced at younger grades.

    From a person who didn’t think you could get an education if it wasn’t Catholic, I have no regrets about sending my kids to CPS~knowing they are getting a wonderful education.

    Chicago School GPS~The “Hidden Gems HS” list is shaping up well. Von Steuben is definitely a gem. I know that Chicago Ag is not on the list (may be later on) and that is def a Hidden Gem as well.

  • 47. klm  |  September 16, 2014 at 9:09 am


    That’s a great story. I know a family that moved from Glencoe and everybody from there thought they were bordrline insane for trying CPS (kinda’ like transferring from Northwestern to a community college in those North Shore peoples’ minds, I’m sure) , but they were very happy with the level of instruction and had no regrets at all.

    RE: these above schools

    I know most of us are still in the “looking and thinking about stage,” but anybody here have experiences they can share about any of these schools? The good, the bad, etc. (no school is Nirvana, even the ‘best’ ones, public or private)

    Sorry, for going off in the wrong direstion, but sometimes we need to remind one another that our kids aren’t necessarily getting the short end of the stick by going CPS. Accordingly, it kinda’ reduces anxiety about the decisions we’ve made as parents (No Disney World and private school, vs. CPS and fun-filed family vacation at Disneyworld and maybe next year Cancun and the Grand Canyon, or Move to Vanilla Suburb vs. Stay in Cool City ‘Hood, etc.).


    I know you’ve mentioned how happy you are in the past with your daughter’s experience with Amundsen, but do you mind, for the purposes of this thread,sharing once agian, since Amundsen’s one of the schools on the above list? I’m genuinely interested.

  • 48. IB Obsessed  |  September 16, 2014 at 10:07 am

    @44, so am I.

    My kid is sick of the whole HS rat race thing, and wants us to move to a certain close in suburb (which we could pretty easily do) where there is a perfectly good HS with loads of clubs, funded extra-curriculars. It has top level honors and AP courses for anyone who wants to try them, and you don’t have to have tested above the 95th %tile on one day out of your life to have the opportunity for great HS academics. We have friends with kids at this HS and it seems more “normal” and like a “typical” HS to my kid. My kid will not get into SE with her test score on one part of the MAP and she, g-d forbid, earned “only” a B in one course. My kid is nuts enought to think this should not determine destiny for the next 4 years.

    The neighborhood HS has been so dissed by teachers and other kids that I will really have to do major lobbying to get my kid to accept that choice. The buzz from other kids is that IB is nothing but work work work, and most drop out of it. My kid is far from a slacker, but is intimidated by this. Meanwhile, it seems that everyone at Lane and Jones gets a great education AND has FUN, but there is not a snow ball’s chance in hell. …unless we move to Tier 1 or 2.

    Argh. I love living in the city, but the kid is making sense.

    So…another perspective on the suburbs v. CPS.

  • 49. happymom  |  September 16, 2014 at 10:39 am

    @44 Viking Mom….my son just started the 7th Grade at Disney II as well! We were so happy to get a call 2 days before school started…there’s a lot going on in those halls every day but the teachers and administration seem to support the energy and open to choices the kids make. He had already gotten his schedule at the Taft Academic Center and had done all the summer work they assign. Although I really like Taft, I’m so happy about the DII last minute surprise we were given….glad to see other folks planning on sticking there through high school.

  • 50. mom2  |  September 16, 2014 at 11:02 am

    I don’t have details, but do know people that either just graduated from or still attend Lake View, Alcott and Von Stuben and they all enjoyed/ enjoy their experience and are doing fine (going to college, etc.) No issues with gangs or violence, etc. But what I want to hear and don’t is how amazing they are. I just here they are happy. I need hype. I need marketing!

  • 51. Vikingmom  |  September 16, 2014 at 11:05 am

    @47 klm— well…since you asked 😉
    Amundsen was not my daughter’s first choice at all (Lane was but she did not get in) but at a variety of visits (tour for me; shadow day for her: IB orientation/meeting for both) we were impressed and got a great vibe. What really sealed the deal for me was the IB day where a group of IB seniors shared their experiences. Those kids were hands down some of the most impressive I have ever seen — smart, articulate, mature, really together.
    My daughter did not really know anyone going in but she is quite independent so that didn’t really bother her. I went with her to volleyball tryouts and the other girls were quite welcoming for the most part. She made that team and also softball in spring and even played varsity starting in her sophomore year.
    Being in the IB program she is surrounded by a more motivated student group (but not all are so motivated). I am not sure exactly how many were in the program when she started but now, as a junior, there are about 60 remaining so roughly half (?) Some drop out; some are asked to leave. She is a very good time manager which I believe is really key for this program, given the long-term assignments, personal projects, etc. Most of her friends are in both IB and sports. They really are a nice group of kids.
    People sometimes seem concerned about safety there. I have never felt unsafe going there to see games (frankly I have always felt very welcomed). My daughter has never felt unsafe. Have there been fights in the school? Yes, I can’t say with what frequency but my daughter mentioned a few (they didn’t progress far, she did not ever say she felt threatened). As a freshman having lunch her table was approached by some older kids asking if they wanted cigarettes or anything but they kind of laughed them off. I have no doubt drugs and alcohol exist, as in every school, but she hasn’t felt any need or desire to imbibe, including at homecoming (we picked her up from there). (Btw, this is a kid who tells me everything, sometimes more than I’d care to know.)
    One of the very best things the principal did was to eliminate the “dress code” (good for Taft in this regard). It was really a great motivator. I have only met the principal a couple of times but she seems very motivated to making positive changes. The teachers that I have met, too, for the most part are a really dedicated bunch.
    Of course there are cons to every school and the physical building is a bit worn down and hardly comparable to Payton, NSCP or Jones, and I would be lying if I said I did not ever feel bad that she could not attend a school with great facilities.
    However, she and her classmates will be getting kindles this week which will be a lot better than lugging around huge textbooks!
    Definitely the IB program was what sold me on the school. Besides the obvious of an advanced curriculum and possibly getting college credit for some of the tests (not 100% sure how this works) the writing and critical thinking involved will really help once she gets to college.
    Of course there are always things to complain about but she has said more than once she is happy she did not get into Lane after all. All in all, I think she is having a good high school experience, one that is preparing her for college and beyond.
    Hope this helps! Let me know if I’ve missed anything.

  • 52. SEN  |  September 16, 2014 at 11:36 am

    @41 Regarding St. Ben’s, I graduated from there in 1988. My Dad wanted me to go to Lane and my Mom wanted me to go to Good Counsel. I begged to stay with my friends from grade school (St. Benedict Grade School). My parents let me go to St. Ben’s H.S. and it worked out the best for me. I got to play volleyball and join the school paper. When I graduated I went to UIUC because of my grades and rank at St. Ben’s. I would not have been at the top of my class at Lane and I would not have been able to play volleyball at Lane. Good Counsel would have been a nightmare commute, but I got to walk to high school everyday. FYI I was the oldest of 5, my parents moved to the suburbs for the other 4 kids. I am now thinking for my 6th grader I may look at St. Ben’s H.S. because she would do well at a small school.

  • 53. mom2  |  September 16, 2014 at 12:21 pm

    Small schools are certainly better for some kids with more attention from the teachers and there is less competition for sports teams which can help. However there are also less options for clubs and teams, so it is a hard decision there.
    FYI, Lane no longer ranks so you don’t have to worry about being at the top of your class. No one knows where you stand in comparison to others (since everyone is already a high achiever/selected).

  • 54. klm  |  September 16, 2014 at 1:25 pm


    Thanks! It’s good to hear from an actual parent with a kid that communicates what’s going on at school.


    It seems like a trade-off and it’s likely very dependent on a person’s personality, likes, etc., IMHO. (I know that’s a ‘Well, no duh, Einstein’ kind of point). Some kids are happy anywhere, but many may prefer a particular setting or need more structure, or have parents that want their kids to have more structure, regular assessments, etc. (not just descriptions of how a kid’s doing, instead of grades, like at some private schools). Some kids need to know where they stand in order to achieve, while some crumble when compared, relative to other kids and assessed all the time.

    I’m kinda’ thinking it’s a little like college: small liberal arts schools are great for some people, but stiffling for others. Some people feel lost at a school like UIUC, Purdue, Michigan State, Indiana, etc., but some others love the variety of people, things to do, the greater cultural options, etc. and may feel like a small college is “too much like high school.”

    Also, obviously it depends which small school (some are way hip and cool, some others kinda’ rigid) and which big school –HS or college.

    It’s so hard to say, until one learns more about a school and can get a vibe.

    Anybody have experience with Beacon Academy? I know that it’s new, but per its web site, it seems pretty cool –plus it’s right off the Purple Line for kids coming from Chicago. Also, it starts at 8:45 –later, on purpose, which I like (kids need their sleep).

  • 55. AFTER SCHOOL MATTERS  |  September 16, 2014 at 9:17 pm

    I am looking at the After School Matters website for high school teens. Some offerings say 10/1/14 – 12/14/14 (M W F 4-7) or something to that effect. Does that mean that the “class” is held 3 days a week for 3 hours each day?

    There are some amazing offerings, but that type of time commitment for a high school student seems way out of line. Or is the program mainly for kids who go to high schools where they get no homework?

    Would love for my child to participate if it is only 1 day/week. Anyone know how it works?

  • 56. P. Joseph Powers  |  September 17, 2014 at 6:24 am

    Please mark your calendars for the Jones College Prep Open House on Saturday, October 18, 10:00 am – 3:00 pm. We hope to see you there!

  • 57. Chicago School GPS  |  September 17, 2014 at 6:47 am

    Thanks for posting, Dr. Powers! Three years ago Jones would have been a “Hidden Gem”. No longer!

  • 58. Vikingmom  |  September 17, 2014 at 9:43 am

    @49 Isn’t it a relief to know that while we may investigate other high schools, we are assured of a good place?! So far my son is doing far, far more interesting work than he ever did at his previous school (a pretty well regarded magnet). Love the Wednesday colloquiums too.

    Just want to add one more thing to the conversation about the high work load of IB. I think my daughter’s experience shows that you can do IB, participate in extra-curricular activities, and still get good grades (mostly As with a few Bs here and there throughout her hs career). Of course we are only a few weeks into junior year but so far it is not unmanageable and my gal has never been up past 10:00pm doing homework.

  • 59. mom2  |  September 17, 2014 at 12:36 pm

    Wow, with Disney II having a 7-12 school and doing so well, maybe CPS should consider something similar for other successful magnets like Hawthorne and LaSalle. Not only would that be great for families at those schools but it would open up more SE spots for others with kids from those schools staying put. Win-Win.

  • 60. pantherparent  |  September 17, 2014 at 5:46 pm

    Good things were already happening at Disney II but I think it moved up a notch with the addition of Mr. Coy as Assistant Principal in the summer of 2013. He was a beloved science teacher at Northside and brought with him some great energy and ideas.

    Wednesday colloquium has long been a staple at Northside as has block scheduling. But I think the greatest idea he brings is that of allowing the kids to make choices and then backing them up. Give kids responsibility and they become responsible.

    After touring Disney II last year, I remarked that it’s becoming a SEHS without all the admittance issues that accompany a SEHS.

  • 61. Vikingmom  |  September 18, 2014 at 9:46 am

    @60 that is also the impression I get — Disney II fashioning itself as SEHS but without all the accompanying agony.
    Block scheduling is great too. That is one thing that I wish (and my daughter too) they would bring back to Amundsen.
    “But I think the greatest idea he brings is that of allowing the kids to make choices and then backing them up. Give kids responsibility and they become responsible.” Absolutely! This is a 360 turn for my son from his previous school. Even the little things at DII—having games and a microwave in the cafeteria, etc. Treating them as kids capable of making decisions.
    I feel very lucky that both my kids are attending schools that are a great fit for them, as they are very different personalities.

  • 62. FORE  |  September 18, 2014 at 5:11 pm

    Goodbye Obuma High, we hardly knew ye.

  • 63. Obama High no more  |  September 18, 2014 at 5:32 pm

    Just heard the new high school heing built within walking distance of Payton won’t be called Obama High.

    This mayor thinks that is the only thing upsetting about this new h.s. Out of touch with parents fighting in the trenches for decent high school options for kids. And no, charter schools from campaign donors is not cutting it. We’ve seen lots of data on charters not measuring up this year.

  • 64. RationalRationing  |  September 19, 2014 at 12:35 pm

    I think the new name is going to be Rauner High School.

  • 65. Quinnocchio  |  September 20, 2014 at 5:03 pm

    “We’ve seen lots of data on charters not measuring up this year.”

    Yes, convoluted, meaningless stats meant to confuse the useful idiots and tell a false story by those with an agenda.

  • 66. klm  |  September 21, 2014 at 1:23 pm

    If anybody has time, look at the Von Steuben Scholars web site. It’s really comprehensive and goes over everything a concerned potential parent or student may want to know (average ACT, curriculum, AP results, colleges that Scholars go to, etc.). It seems like a model program (I’m impressed), at least from its web site. I know somebody who has a daughter in the program (she didn’t get into the SEHSs she applied to) and her daughter is thriving there –she’s now happy that she didn’t get into SE, since she’s now at Von Steuben Scholars and loves it.

    Be sure to check out the Von Steuben Scholars booth at the Fair, if you go there.

    Anybody have a kid in the Scholars program and/or more familiar with it?

  • 67. red  |  September 21, 2014 at 5:52 pm

    What’s the difference between IB education and college prep?

  • 68. IB and College Prep  |  September 21, 2014 at 10:04 pm

    67. red

    Both prepare students for college. Some say IB prepares students better than even SEHS (which are all college prep) due their rigorous curriculum as well as emphasis on writing across the curriculum. You can search this blog and find lots of information on both.

  • 69. neighborhood parent  |  September 22, 2014 at 8:24 am

    re: college prep
    the IB provides a set of exams that are internationally recognized – that’s one difference.

  • 70. Vikingmom  |  September 22, 2014 at 1:33 pm

    @66 I also know, casually, a couple of families with kids enrolled in the VS Scholars program. They are all very pleased with the program. I wanted my daughter to apply but she complained and moaned about the supplemental materials required, saying she didn’t really want to go there anyway, and fool that I was at the time, I didn’t follow through.

  • 71. SM  |  September 23, 2014 at 9:46 am

    Its interesting how schools rotate in and out of fashion over time. For example, I was speaking with a young woman who graduated from Edison RGC some years ago. She said that back when she was applying for high schools back then (maybe 9 years ago or so), she remembers crying and being upset because she did not get into Von Steuben’s Scholars program and (oh no!) had to go to Payton while the rest of her class went to VS. I really like VS and know some teachers there who highly recommend the program.

  • 72. HSObsessed  |  September 23, 2014 at 10:29 am

    @71 – I’m not sure it’s a matter of going in or out of fashion, but just getting established, so to say. In 2003, Payton had been open for two years, and posted its very first set of ACT scores, which were 23. That’s a very solid score, but nothing that knocked the socks off score-obsessed parents. Also, geography/commute has always been a factor. With Edison being in the very far northwest part of the city, the short commute to Von probably made it a popular choice for the Edison kids who lived in that area and who didn’t get into Northside, which had opened just a few years before Payton.

  • 73. klm  |  September 23, 2014 at 10:53 am


    It’s funny how things change so quickly, When Payton first opened up, nobody really knew if it would be a “good” school or not, plus there were some kids that got in non-SE because of the “immediate area” enrollment (i.e. Cabrini Green) that concerned some people that were concerned about public safety (for those of us that remember hoe Cabrini Green used to be, it wasn’t necessarily an eye-roll worthy petty concern, either). It was only after a few years that it became the kind of school it is today, admissions-wise (and when the ‘neighborhood’ component was dropped). It’ll probably be a similar story for the future proposed formerly-known-as-Obama College Prep –I wonder how long the neighborhood component will last there before its all-SE enrollment.

    From what I understand, Northside wasn’t initially so sought-after, either. Last year, 15 kids (1/2 of the entire 8th grade class) from Edison RGC went to Northside, so it’s kinda’ the “end goal” school for most kids at that school (except maybe for the kids that live closer to Payton –for Lincoln Park/Lakeview/Downtown//Wicker Park/Bucktown most people would say the same of Payton, hence the point higher than Northside for Tier 4 admissions).

    I knew somebody that years ago (10+), had a daughter who “had to go to” Payton because she didn’t get into LPHS IB. It seems funny now.

    It will be interesting how things work out at Payton with its expansion. If more spaces means a bit easier to get in, will people that care then want their kids going to Northside, since it’ll be the undisputed “Harvard” of CPS SEHSs, at least in terms of difficulty of getting in?

    Then again, I’ll be happy if all my kids do OK enough to be on the right side of average –anything else is icing on the cake. With the exception of 1 or 2 of my kids, I’m very interested in the “Hiden Gems” listed above –I kinda’ think I’ll need to seriously consider them in few years..

  • 74. HSObsessed  |  September 23, 2014 at 11:05 am

    @73 – I’m curious whether Lincoln Park HS, which I believe is your kids’ neighborhood high school and therefore admission is guaranteed, is on your list of schools that you’ll seriously consider? If not, why not?

  • 75. klm  |  September 23, 2014 at 2:32 pm


    Sure. But if there’s no IB or HH involved, I’m sad to say that LPHS is kind of considered the sort of school where I’d prefer my kids not attend. I’m being honest here.

    Good news: all my kids are all doing “fine” –maybe just not top 1-3% to get into NPYJ (but 1 or 2 are). It’s just that if one of my kids doesn’t get into IB or HH, I’m for sure looking elsewhere for HS, since the “other” non-IB/HH/DH LPHS is not one I want for my kids.

    I know that sounds awful to some people, but I’m just talking facts. While it’s true that lots of kids from middle-class(+) homes in the area are fine with LPHS (if they go IB, they’re getting a great education),the non-HH and non-IB aspect of LPHS is really what most parents don’t want for their kids. Without going into detail, I know what I’m talking about here (it helps knowing people that work and teach at a school and tell you how it is).

    We’re considering going private for HS, since the oldest is a braniac, so it may get us our foot in the door, then make it easier for the rest to get in, since they’ll be “siblings” (being non-Asian minorities won’t hurt, either). All the money we’ve saved going CPS K-8 may be enough to pay for a private HS, but who wouldn’t rather save the money and get all their kids a tuition-free “good” comparable public education and have a cushier, earlier retirement and/or winter condo in Boca or Scottsdale (ha!)?

    Or maybe a combination of CPS and private, depending on what works per kid, etc –most likely scenario.

    I like living in Chicago, but 10-15% of the time, I feel like throwing in the towel and just moving to the suburbs so that all my kids can go to the same “really excellent” public HS, where my braniacs can take their braniac classes with other braniacs, the just plain smart kids will be well served and the “regular” kids will also get a good education.

    In Chicago, it’s so all over the place, so God only know where they’ll all end up.

    Chicago’s a great place if one has 1 or 2 kids, but a gaggle of kids? Not so much.

  • 76. klm  |  September 23, 2014 at 2:33 pm


    I meant @74

  • 77. CPS Parent (and proud)  |  September 23, 2014 at 4:15 pm

    I love this blog. Seriously though, I cannot read one more “I have a friend who KNOWS” or “I know because my sister in law told me…” or “I know what I’m talking about because so and so told me.” Holy cow.

    If you are not in that school, you DO NOT know all of the details. Geez.

  • 78. IB Obsessed  |  September 23, 2014 at 5:01 pm

    I didn’t think a student needed to be in the top 1-3% to do HH at LPHS?

    And I was told by admin at a tour that you can be accepted into HH, prove yourself ,and then apply for the IB diploma track.

    klm, do the CPS funding issues concern you? Look at Lakeview. Rahm announced STEM with all kinds of fanfare, then the school funding was cut. Didn’t that impact the program? Does anyone know, 1st hand?

    The suburbs look attractive for HS when I think about the instability of CPS funding. I mean, look, they privatized cleaning of the schools to save $, with a bunch of apparent BS about how it would save admin. time and schools are apparently dealing with the equivalent of a cleaning with a swiffer (my weekday, or ok, even busy Sat. clean) for spilled milk instead of an industrial mop. What else will they cut corners on to save $? Some schools are already without librarians.

  • 79. klm  |  September 23, 2014 at 5:35 pm


    For sure.

    But when somebody actually teaches at a school, I kinda’ tend to think that there might be something to what they have to say about said school. The same teacher did have some really good things to say, too.

    BTW, I’m frequently annoyed, too, by the dumb stuff people say, then add they their friend’s neighbor’s brother told them so at a birthday party three years ago.

    Thing is about LPHS, just stand in front of it at dismissal time. The kids that come out with langauge and behavior that make your mouth drop are the ones I don’t want sitting next to my kids in freshman English. The same thing makes me think that the CPS teacher I’m thinking od wasn’t totally talking BS.

    Plus, at this point,I know enough people whose kids have gone or are still going to LPHS. They say similar things: IB or HH is great, otherwise…..uh, well, it’s a little dicey in terms of classroom environment.


    No doubt, but I’m not sure every kid will want to do the IB work load. After that, it’s sometimes a slippery slope downward for some kids –and the “bottom” at LPHS is not where I want my kids, sorry.. What if I have an “average” kid? There’s a huge gap between IB and “regular” (i.e. quasi-remedial at any North Shore HS) classes at LPHS. I know people will throw stones at me saying this, but I don’t want my kids spending all day with lots of kids whose anti-social behavior will keep them down. Maybe my fear’s overblown, but it’s not coming from outta’ nowhere, though.

    I’ve come around about LPHS and know that if offers some great programs for even the hardest working and brightest kids. However, the young people screaming swear words and beginning every other utterance with “MF-ing” make me cringe and think twice about the “regular” classes.

  • 80. HSObsessed  |  September 23, 2014 at 7:25 pm

    @75 – I see, thank you. It’s always interesting to read other people’s perceptions.

  • 81. karet  |  September 24, 2014 at 10:28 am

    klm, I honestly don’t know how you families with lots of kids do it. I have a neighbor/friend with 4 kids who pulled her eldest out of Edison to start at Disney 2 last year for 7th grade, with the idea that each of the younger kids will (hopefully) get into D2 in 7th (when the # of seats goes up, and siblings get preference). I hope it works out for them. They currently have 4 kids in 4 different schools! I felt like it was a miracle that my 2 kids got into excellent schools (an SEES and a magnet) — and I’m already worried about HS. You guys are troopers.

  • 82. Chicago School GPS  |  September 24, 2014 at 4:56 pm

    Just picked up boxes of the 2015-2016 CPS HS Guides for attendees of the Hidden Gems Fair this Sunday. Hot off the presses!

  • 83. cpsobsessed  |  September 25, 2014 at 7:46 am

    In regards to comments deleted this morning:

    As a reminder, unlike many places on the Web where one can make sport of posting un-useful snarky comments, this is not one of those places. I can view your IP addresses so its clear when the same person makes a game of it using different names.

    If that’s your MO, please find another place to do so. Or, perhaps explain the fun in using the web like this… I still don’t understand it.

  • 84. HSObsessed  |  September 25, 2014 at 8:41 am

    Nice article on a LPHS junior who balances academics with an aim to compete in the national hockey leagues. (If you don’t already read DNA Info Chicago, I highly recommend it because they often cover stories from Chicago public schools all over the city that you’ll never see in bigger outlets like the Sun Times or WBEZ.)


  • 85. Sheryl Seef  |  September 27, 2014 at 10:52 am

    I’m looking forward to presenting at this event tomorrow! I will be speaking about developing EXECUTIVE FUNCTION skills and providing concrete tools and strategies to help students succeed in school!

  • 86. Chicago School GPS  |  September 27, 2014 at 11:02 am

    We are very excited to have Sheryl present her participatory workshop to middle schoolers! They do great things to help kids and families stay on stop of the middle school morass, and she will be sharing some tips/tricks with kids who will be attending her workshop (4PM & 4:30PM). http://www.beyondbooksmart.com

  • 87. HS HS  |  September 27, 2014 at 6:01 pm

    I also agree with the whole idea of executive function training. Sometimes it just isn’t about the academic skill set but rather the approach towards testing, middle school/high school transition and just understanding how you work best. This kind of coaching is the best test prep around (IMHO)

  • 88. cpsobsessed  |  September 27, 2014 at 8:47 pm

    FYI, CPS is holding this Parent Power fair Oct 4-5. I am assuming this is the same fair that used to showcase the charter schools, but now it says it includes regular publics and privates as well, so parents can see a range of options. The fair also includes resources for parents to help their kids succeed.

    I believe the cost of the fair (which is pretty snazzy) is covered by a pro-charter group, FYI. For those who are looking at charter high schools, this is a good place to talk to a range of schools in one day.


  • 89. Chicago School GPS  |  September 27, 2014 at 10:25 pm

    All CPS high schools, including all SEHS schools, were highly “encouraged” to represent at the Parent Power School Fair, so they should all be there. It also supposedly has info on elementary as well as high school programs.

  • 90. Anna Pavichevich  |  September 30, 2014 at 5:48 pm

    Dear VikingMom and Amundsen-Interested Parents:

    Wow! I don’t know where to begin. I am going to make this short and sweet – bullet points for responses to some of the comments that stood out to me.

    • VikingMom Rocks! ☺ Who ARE you? Please introduce yourself to me!
    • Our IB results are among the top in the city.
    • “Attrition” rates for IB-DP vary from year to year. The majority of the students only change their path from an “all-in” IB Diploma (IB-DP) program to a combo platter of IB classes, AP, and Dual Credit. Taking this path provides students with a “same, but different” experience. Students have more flexibility in scheduling and still end-up with a top-notch, rigorous academic program that leads to college-credit.
    • The decision to change paths is made after much discussion and collaboration with student, teachers, parents, counselors, IB coordinators. We also offer significant social-emotional supports, as students make this transition.
    • Beyond IB-DP, AP, and Dual Credit, we also offer students a curriculum path through the highly regarded AVID program, a nationally recognized college preparatory program.
    • As for misperceptions about safety, I don’t know how to clean this gum off of our shoes. Our safety/culture and climate data is among the best on the North Side, particularly among general high schools. VikingMom’s daughter said it best. Sometimes students try to start drama, but they do not get very far. Aside from the eyes in the backs of our heads that come from our strong 1:1 relationships with our students, we have incredibly proactive Social-Emotional Learning and Restorative Justice programs, which develop student’s coping and communication skills. A student at Amundsen is more likely to request a mediation than to start a fight.
    • I agree that drugs and alcohol are probably in every school. But, they are all but invisible at Amundsen. Addressing this issue is a PERSONAL PRIORITY, and the students know and can recite that they do NOT bring drugs into Ms. P.’s building. Ever. In any amount. Under any circumstances. We have a Senior Contract that is tied to senior activities, ranging from graduation to prom to the senior picnic. A drug violation committed by a senior student – of any magnitude – is an automatic exemption from participation in any of these activities, including walking across the stage.
    • Academic data? Up in every single area – across the board. In addition to being a reflection of great teaching FOR learning, this might be due to the FREE ACT prep classes we offer to Junior students. Have we met all of our academic goals? Not yet. But, with the growth rate we are experiencing, they are not far from our grasp.
    • 96% of the seniors who entered the Senior year graduated.
    • We have a thriving Student-Life that boasts over 20 Varsity sports and 40 clubs.
    • Beyond our brand new computer labs and face-lifts to the Auditorium, gyms, and cafeteria,
    we need community support – and lots of it – to lobby for needed renovations and facilities upgrades.
    What else? Come to our Open House on Saturday, Nov. 8th from 10 am -1 pm.
    • Visit us at amundsenhs.org to schedule yourself for one of our ongoing tours or to schedule your student for a shadowing experience.
    • Join the Friends of Amundsen at FriendsofAmundsen.org.
    • Follow us on Facebook @ http://www.tiny.cc/amundsenfb
    • At the end of the day, if you sent your children to Amundsen High School, that is who our students will be. Be the change you want to see. Make Amundsen High School YOUR neighborhood school of choice.

  • 91. Amundsen freshman  |  October 1, 2014 at 7:53 am

    My son is a freshman in Amundsen’s IB program this year, and we’re super happy so far. Challenging academics, homework is manageable, and the kids in the program are great; a diverse group from many different schools. He’s made a lot of friends already, and they’re looking forward to the homecoming pep rally this afternoon!

  • 92. mom2  |  October 1, 2014 at 8:51 am

    @Anna Pavichevich – thank you for the information. I think it is critical for neighborhood high schools that are trying to turn the tide, like Amundsen and Lake View, need to constantly share information about their schools and address most likely unwarranted concerns about the school climate, safety and culture, etc. I know my biggest concerns aren’t necessarily whether my child will have good classes because I think that is a given at most schools, but whether my child will be surrounded by kids that care about education, that do their homework, that listen in class, that want to go to college, that aren’t in gangs, that don’t threaten people at school, etc. How can that concern be eliminated? I’m not sure but it needs to happen.

  • 93. Anna Pavichevich  |  October 6, 2014 at 2:24 pm

    @91 – I am so glad things are going well for your son. I hope he enjoyed the entire Homecoming week, as well as the pep rally. I, for one, am still recovering … 🙂

    @92 – I think that the concern you outline is one that all parents should have. I am just trying to conquer the misconceptions, misperceptions that surround Amundsen High School. The data about hour top-tier IB results, safe environment, college enrollment and scholarship dollars (about $5M last year), etc. is all out there. What can people do to learn more about the school that might change misconceptions/misperceptions? For those interested, I would suggest taking a tour of our school (offered twice monthly), availing him/herself of opportunities to attend one of our many community events, joining our FoA group …. I am genuinely interested in hearing any ideas about more productive ways we can share the DATA our school produces, beyond the ways that we have already have. We are working hard to share the good news that is generated by our students, staff, and school on a regular basis. We are always ready to do more!

  • 94. A Mom  |  October 7, 2014 at 3:04 pm

    @ 91 & 92 you just read my mind, I was reading threads here for the entire day trying to find the information about the kids and environment in schools that Im interested in and can’t find any. My concern is how to make sure that my child is comfortable in the school and is surrounded by kids who care which is a huge part of a success in education. Anybody knows about threads like that here?

  • 95. mom2  |  October 7, 2014 at 3:27 pm

    I know this may sound crazy, but maybe a video on your web site that shows the typical day, but with an obvious marketing spin. Show the kids arriving at school, smiling and talking with their friends, doing cool projects in class, listening to the teachers and laughing, going to clubs and sport practices and sporting events, leaving school, etc. Show all the diversity, not just one type of kid. Have some of the kids that are well spoken talk about what they enjoy about the school and where they plan to go to college or where they were admitted. Hype the good results. Have them talk about their previous middle school and focus on talking about the middle schools that you are trying to attract from your neighborhood. Help parents of kids that are currently in the minority for your school feel and see their child would not be the “only one”.

  • 96. mom2  |  October 7, 2014 at 3:29 pm

    @94 – I don’t know of any specific thread on the kids and environment at schools, but I know if you ask that question and someone has a child at that school, people love to answer. I spend hours looking at school web sites and old pictures trying to get a sense of the school environment and community. Often I feel disappointed when I look there because you really can’t tell much from pictures and might even come to the wrong conclusion.

  • 97. A Mom  |  October 7, 2014 at 4:23 pm

    I have a question about Lakeview HS and Ogden. As i understand through my research is that Ogden IB school and LWHS is a neighborhood school but has a STEM program? Does anyone here has a kid in either of them? Do you like it overall?

  • 98. mom2  |  October 7, 2014 at 4:34 pm

    I can tell you that this forum tends to have mostly obsessed parents with SE and IB on their mind, so it is harder to find people at neighborhood high schools visiting this site. However, I can tell you that we know someone that recently graduated from Lake View and she really liked it there. She told us they she safe, made some nice friends and the teachers really cared about her success. She is at a 4 year university on a great scholarship now.

  • 99. A Mom  |  October 7, 2014 at 4:45 pm

    So the Lake View is only neighborhood school and doesn’t have any ib or other programs, right?

  • 100. west rogers park mom  |  October 7, 2014 at 5:41 pm

    For those with kids who are into the arts please don’t discount the fine arts programs at Senn and Lincoln Park. If your kid is willing to go to school for 9 hours a day there is also ChiArts and CAA (private).

    My daughter is a sophomore at ChiArts and she also applied to the other arts programs two years ago. I was impressed with them all.

  • 101. HSObsessed  |  October 7, 2014 at 8:15 pm

    @96 – Check out this great video make by Amundsen kids in the past year, and you might get some insight.

  • 102. HSObsessed  |  October 7, 2014 at 8:25 pm

    We haven’t mentioned Chicago Quest lately, so I wanted to bring it up again. It’s a 6th-12th grade charter school that started about 2-3 years ago, which uses game design as a way of teaching subjects in a wholistic way. It’s only the second campus in the country, after a wildly popular one in NYC. The school is in Near North (close to Halsted/Division), and currently has 6th-10th graders. I notice they’ve updated their website with lots of great photos and content:


    Also, check out the AWESOME avatars that someone made of each of the faculty members:


    I think this school is a little under the radar right now, but definitely worth a look if your kid is into gaming, visual design, programming, creative thinking, etc.

  • 103. cpsobsessed  |  October 7, 2014 at 9:22 pm

    While Lakeview doesn’t have specific programs, I believe they have a lot of AP classes – which I like the idea of — you take the advanced classes where you have the ability/interest rather than an entirely advance program.

  • 104. mom2  |  October 8, 2014 at 8:33 am

    It looks like Lakeview has something called pathways where you can pick a track for focus. They have suggested courses (in addition to the standard high school requirements) in this map I found here: lakeviewhs.com/academics/documents/PathwayMap.pdf
    Their STEM program does sound very cool.

  • 105. Vikingmom  |  October 9, 2014 at 12:18 pm

    @90 Thanks for posting Ms Pavichevich! I know my observations are sometimes filtered through a 16 year old and we obviously don’t have the data that you can provide.
    I do so love the “Happy” video but also have to agree about the photos on the school’s website — which I know are at least two years old in some cases. Of course, I imagine updating the site is primarily a volunteer effort.
    Also want to clarify the “drugs and alcohol being at all schools” — what I meant was that kids are doing this no matter what school they go to. I did not mean to imply that this is happening AT school. My daughter has never mentioned seeing substances at school or seeing anyone impaired. (That said, have to throw in my own fond memory of a drunk girl throwing up in first period French class at my own all-girls “exclusive” private school back in the day…;)
    Again, to keep hitting the nail on the head, she has never felt unsafe. After my own personal first visits to Amundsen in 2012 I felt that safety would never be an issue. I would never have sent her to a school that I perceived in any way would compromise her safety or her ability to learn and grow. I really hope that anyone who thinks there are any problems comes to the open house or visits another time and you will quickly get rid of any negative impression.

  • 106. Anna Pavichevich  |  October 17, 2014 at 2:07 pm

    @95 – YES. We are working on those projects. Last year, we made a “Happy” video that went viral and brought lots of positive attention to the school, but I know we need to do much much more. We have many plans in the works, at this time. I spent the first two years in deep “transformation” mode, and now that we have been so successful, I have a moment to breathe and think about how to market the school AS IT REALLY IS. I know that for a very very long time, the blinds were shut so no-one could peek into the building, but I never knew to what degree that impacted information about the school reaching the community. I met several parents the other night who were shocked to hear that we have had an IB program at AHS for almost two decades. When I told them that our IB students consistently have “top tier” results with IB Diploma and ACT scores, they were shocked. Clearly, I need to brush-up on my marketing skills. Friends of Amundsen has been amazingly helpful in that area. The work of an educator is very far away from the business/marketing world (or, it used to be, anyway). I love your idea for the video and have started to “story-board” in my mind.

    @105 – YOU READ OUR MINDS. We are currently in the process of totally updating and revamping the website. It should be “live” in about two weeks. We have also created an informational brochure that is filled with pictures of our beautiful students. Like I said earlier in this post … for two years, I haven’t been able to breathe while focusing on major transformation in a few key areas. Now, it is time to move on to the next levels of change that are leading to our many successes. Looking forward to meeting you and hearing your ideas in person, soon.

    @ ALL – on a personal note, I am the parent of a SEHS student, from 1st – 12th grade. Please think about “fit” as an important part of the equation, i. e., finding a school where your child will feel valued and supported.

  • 107. mom2  |  October 17, 2014 at 2:20 pm

    @Anna Pavichevich – So happy to hear your future plans. You are certainly on the right track. Now, I wish you could get Lake View HS to do the same things. That’s our local school (but we would certainly love to consider Amundsen if there is room for a great, well behaved, and friendly kid with an IEP and some learning differences.)

  • 108. Anna Pavichevich  |  October 17, 2014 at 8:44 pm

    @107 Two of the four AHS administrators have a background as teachers of Diverse Learners. I happen to be one of the two! I earned National Board Certification as an Exceptional Needs Specialist, and I have 20 years of classroom experience. Let’s just say, at AHS, we take the education of our students with IEPs very very seriously. 🙂

  • 109. MPB4116  |  October 28, 2014 at 3:01 pm

    Another Open House this weekend is Taft. Nov 1, 1-3 pm. They will talk about all HS programs including the IB Diploma Programme which is a great (and rigorous) alternative to SEHS with no entrance exam (based on 7th grade NWEA and grades) and the AVID program which is a great option for kids that want a challenge but don’t quite have the grades/scores for SEHS.

  • 110. lawmom  |  November 4, 2014 at 1:54 pm

    Anyone have any experience with the Von Steuben Scholars program?

  • 111. aviwe lengisi  |  November 29, 2014 at 7:09 am

    I need help on 2012 I droped out school in grade9 so I want to go back to school next year bt I dnt want to go back to junior, I dropped cz I was addicted in dangerous friends n gambling so plzzz help mi am 19yrz old

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