June 16, 2008
Mayor Richard M. Daley, schools CEO Arne Duncan and other school officials kicked off summer school 2008 for more than 100,000 Chicago Public Schools students who are expected to participate in academic, cultural enrichment and recreational programs over the next three months.
A total of 19,000 students and 95 high schools will participate in Freshman Connection, a new CPS initiative. Freshman Connection is a collection of programs that for the first time ever will make summer enrichment activities available to all in-coming CPS freshmen.
“This year, the first day of summer school is especially important in our high schools. For thousands of students their first day of high school will be in June, not in September,” Daley said at Harlan Community Academy High School, 9652 South Michigan Avenue.
“For the first time ever, our high schools are opening their doors to their incoming freshmen this month to help them get a head start on the critically important transition from eighth to ninth grade,” he added.
Freshman Connection takes place in students’ future high schools and includes four programs:
Summer Bridge: Summer Bridge is an existing six-week CPS program that helps promote incoming freshman who don’t meet elementary promotion standards. For the first time, eighth-grade Summer Bridge students will attend the program in their future high school. Eighth-grade Bridge starts June 16 and ends July 24.
Freshman Connection A.M.: Freshman Connection A.M. is four-week program with an academic focus that includes two programs—GEAR UP, (academic enrichment for incoming freshman), and Step Up to High School (freshmen orientation and academic enrichment for all non-GEAR UP/non-Summer Bridge students). Freshman Connection A.M. is held from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., Monday to Friday, June 30 to July 25.
Freshman Connection P.M.: New this year is Freshman Connection P.M., the afternoon portion of Freshman Connection that focuses on teamwork and social and emotional support. Freshman Connection runs eight of the 19 Freshman Connection days, from 1 to 3:30 p.m. Most Freshman Connection P.M. days will be on Tuesdays and Thursdays and include field trips, career activities and team building exercises
High School Investigation Days: CPS held High School Investigation Days—district-wide orientation days—on May 27, 28 and 29. These days gave all incoming freshmen the opportunity to visit their new high school and become acclimated to the building and the new high school experience.
“We’re thrilled to bring a comprehensive orientation program to our incoming freshmen this summer,” said Arne Duncan, CEO of Chicago Public Schools. “We know that success in ninth-grade is critical to our students’ eventual graduation. That’s why Freshman Connection covers all the bases, from academics to social adjustment.”
A total of 500 Chicago Public Schools teachers were recruited to staff Freshmen Connection, and 850 CPS students will be paid youth workers for Freshman Connection.
Freshmen Connection is not mandatory. Cash incentives of up to $3,000 are being given to CPS elementary schools and high schools that enrolled large numbers of students. Incentives to students who enroll include iTunes cards for early registrants, and MP3 players for students completing the program, and CTA cards for all students who need them.
Daley went on to challenge Chicago’s parents and guardians to enroll their children in the remaining 51,017 summer learning and recreation slots that are still available.
“Every child involved in a positive, constructive activity is another child safe from the influence of gangs, guns and drugs,” Daley said. “This is part of our commitment to do all we can to keep our children safe this summer,” he added.
Another CPS summer initiative helping to prepare students for the future is Classroom Inc., the new curriculum for Mayor Daley’s Keep Kids Learning initiative. Classroom Inc. is a career simulation program that will give 1,600 students in 25 schools experience in various occupations.
Through Classroom Inc., fourth and fifth graders will run a bank for six weeks, and sixth and seventh graders will run a magazine as editors for six weeks. High school students will split their six-week session, spending three weeks as directors of a sports channel and three weeks as members of a community law firm.
June 16 is the first day of Classroom Inc., which runs for six weeks and includes four hours of career work in the morning and three hours of recreation in the afternoon.
Two of the 25 Classroom Inc. participating schools are high schools—Crane Technical Prep High School, 2245 W. Jackson Blvd., and Harper High School, 6520 S. Wood St. High school students will be paid a $7.50/hour stipend for their work at the elementary school sites.
Keep Kids Learning, now in its third year, is an academic and enrichment program for elementary and high school students in North Lawndale and Englewood, who are not required to attend summer school. Keep Kids Learning served 1,000 students in 11 schools as a pilot program in 2006, the 3,500 students in 22 schools, in 2007.
The following also are new this year:
AA+: This new program addresses the needs of 400 of the district’s most at-risk students, overage CPS sixth- and seventh graders students who will enroll in CPS Achievement Academies this fall, and aims to help them get back on track toward on-time graduation. Students who are over the age of 15 at entry to high school historically have a five-year graduation rate of 27 percent. AA+ provides summer programs for these 400 students, support as they transition to the Achievement Academies, and additional support during their freshman year. AA+ is administered by the CPS Department of Graduation Pathways.
Summer Bilingual Bridge Program for English Language Learners: This program is for English Language Learners in grades three, six and eight, who do not meet minimum criteria for promotion to the next grade. Like Summer Bridge, it runs from June 16 to July 24. It will consists of focused instruction in reading (native language when available and English), English as a Second Language (ESL) and mathematics. After summer school ends, evaluation criteria are applied, and successful students are promoted. The program is operated by the Office of Language and Cultural Education.
My Chicago: My Chicago is a pilot program of Summer Quest, from the Office of High School Programs. In My Chicago, 24 CPS students will study and visit Chicago neighborhoods to learn more about identity, community and power.
Neighborhoods studied in class will include Uptown, Hyde Park, Garfield Park and Pilsen. Students also will choose a neighborhood for independent research. My Chicago starts July 7 and ends Aug. 3.