By attending the Spring High School Fair, more than 4,000 8th-graders and their parents took an important step toward defining their educational futures.
Held on March 29 at the UIC Forum, this event showcased dozens of CPS high schools eager to fill their remaining seats for the 2014-2015 School Year.
“Every year, we work to expand and build upon the programs and opportunities we provide within our high schools so that every student has access to a quality, rigorous curriculum that lays the groundwork for success both inside and outside the classroom,” said CPS CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett. “Last year, the District realized both the highest graduation and on-track rates to date, and we continue to make progress toward our goal for every student to graduate 100 percent college ready and 100 percent college bound.”
The fair helped build on this momentum, providing 8th-graders with a chance to learn about the academic, athletic and extracurricular programs at a variety of high schools while assisting them with the completion of onsite applications. A Students Services Center also provided translation assistance, guidance from academic counselors, and information on resources for diverse learners, ELL students, those interested in JROTC programs, and other vital services.
“The event was very informative,” said Daejah, an 8th-grader from Mozart Elementary School. “It was really nice to meet lots of principals, assistant principals and counselors. They had all the information I needed to make a decision about what school I wanted to attend, and the application was on hand to apply on the spot.”
As they arrived at the UIC Forum, 8th-graders and their parents were greeted by CPS staff and handed a map of the fair. They were then encouraged to travel from table to table, speaking with students and staff about what might make a particular school the right fit for them.
“With so many schools in the District, many parents and students don’t even know about all the choices that are out there,” said Leeandra Khan, principal of Bronzville Scholastic Academy High School. “The High School Fair gave us a chance to show people who we are and what we can offer.”
With their interactive display and army of ambassadors, Bronzeville drew much attention from Fair goers. More than 20 students were on hand to promote their small school feel, and the antics of the Bronzville Panther created an ongoing atmosphere of enthusiasm and school spirit.
“We believe in the development of the whole student, which means focusing not only on academics, but on helping them grow as creative thinkers, global citizens and young adults who advocate for what they believe in,” said Principal Khan. “We’re one family at Bronzeville, and I think our students did a great job of conveying that.”
Other CPS students, particularly those from the District’s Career and Technical Education (CTE) programs, were also on hand, eager to stump for their schools by showing off talents in robotics and the culinary arts. Potential students were visibly impressed by these displays, as was Mayor Rahm Emanuel, who walked the entire fair to speak with students and parents about their high school choices.
To help keep students engaged, the fair also included fun asides such as a DJ and giveaways. LeeAnn Trotter of NBC 5 was on hand to emcee the raffle, which included over 50 exciting prizes like laptops, tablets, game tickets and autographed sports jerseys.
“It was clear from the number of participants that there was a tremendous need for this event,” said Tamara Prather, one of the fair’s key organizers. “The transition to high school is a critical time for our students. By providing them with the opportunity to explore their options, we are helping them make good choices, which will hopefully have a positive impact on their future success.”