A fresh take on learning 

The new EPIC Academy extends learning opportunities through community involvement.

May 19, 2009

Set to open for the 2009-2010 school year, the Expeditionary Path to Innovative Change (EPIC) Academy gives students the chance to pursue learning opportunities while creating community connections.


This new contract public high school, opening through Mayor Daley’s Renaissance 2010 initiative, will add a new school option for students in the South Chicago community. The high school will serve students in the 9th grade for the 2009-2010 school year and add an additional grade each year. The academy will open at a location to be determined in the South Chicago community. 


EPIC academy is partnering with the Expeditionary Learning Schools (ELS), whose model unites a rigorous academic agenda with applied learning in a community. ELS schools have a proven path to success. While only one other school in Chicago maintains a partnership with ELS, Polaris Charter Academy, 620 N. Sawyer Ave., ELS partners with more than 160 schools throughout the United States and reaches more than 45,000 students. 


Here’s a brief look at the success of ELS:


  • Washington Heights Expeditionary Learning School in New York City is ranked the fourth-highest middle school in the city. It was the highest rated first-year school.
  • Crossroads School in Baltimore, MD, had the highest scores in both math and reading for any middle school in Baltimore according to the 2006 Maryland School Assessment, a standardized test similar to the ISAT. 
  • Bodman Academy in Boston had 100% of its four graduating classes accepted into four-year colleges.


The EPIC Academy here in Chicago will build on the successes of other Expeditionary Learning Schools. Students at the school will create Innovative Change Projects, year-long initiatives that connect student academic work with service learning in the South Chicago community. The staff will strive to create a learning environment that supports student growth inside and outside the classroom. Teachers maintain relationships with their students and their students’ families. Incoming freshmen are given the opportunity to engage in activities with teachers and older classmates while on a three-day retreat in the community. 


Interested students should apply for a spot in the school’s first class, for the 2009-2010 school year. Learn more about EPIC Academy and all of Chicago’s new schools.