Healthy Habits from Sutherland Wellness Committee

By Kristin Boza 

Sutherland Elementary School, 10015 S. Leavitt St., initiated a parent-driven wellness committee that began to explore how to enhance recess time and improve school lunches. Now, the committee has taken on additional actions to ensure students are learning how to incorporate a variety of wellness activities in their daily lives. 

“Last year, our parents took the lead on Wellness Committee actions and set up a meeting between the Aramark/CPS food service and our parents and concerned staff members; what emerged was a commitment by Aramark and CPS to work with our school to provide fresher, more appetizing and nutritious options for our children,” said Sutherland Principal Meg Burns. “We have piloted several new alternatives that includes less warmed-over foods and more fresh vegetables and plant proteins. Due to their efforts, our entire lunch program has been transformed.” 

The committee found their purpose and decided to continue their efforts to support Sutherland students in being well, which included fundraising for recess equipment and partnering with the Windy City Rollers roller derby team to provide recess equipment bags for each classroom, and heightening awareness about food allergies.  

“Our PE teacher, Coach Muir, has been extremely supportive of our Wellness Committee and is working with them on developing a program of ‘old school’ recess activities. Coach Muir also works with our students to remain active and engaging each other in productive, fun, and safe playground games, while also utilizing our school-wide tools of Calm Classroom and yoga instruction to help support physical and mental fitness for all of our children,” Burns said. “We are also growing our wellness programs beyond physical wellness and working with staff to provide after school yoga, learning garden activities, and outdoor education.” 

The Wellness Committee is also engaging parents in quarterly workshops designed to inform and support healthy practices. They are also building a strong social emotional wellness program that includes yoga “detention” in place of standard detention. “This is unique to Sutherland, although CPS is definitely advocating for alternatives to standard discipline and punishments,” Burns said. “We have taken the lead in developing our own very comprehensive program.” 

When children are active and engaged in physical and emotional well-being, they will perform better in school, cause less disruptions, and have fun with their friends while building positive relationships. 

Healthy Tips from the Sutherland Wellness Committee
Snacks. Healthy snacks are important for a child’s growth. Apples and pretzels are great alternatives to cookies, candy, pop, or sugary drinks. 

Fitness. Setting fitness goals gives children something to work toward. Sutherland students are working on fitness goals in gym class that set benchmarks for strength and respiratory fitness. Push-ups, sit-ups, flexibility and running endurance tests give students an idea of where they stand and what they need to do to get stronger and more effective. 

Follow the Kid’s Heart Challenge Guidelines: Have children follow the “5 for Life” guidelines: 1. Exercise for 60 minutes a day. 2 Drink water instead of pop. 3. Control sodium intake. 4. Eat lots of fruits and vegetables. 5. No smoking or vaping. 

Measurable Results and Montessor

By Dave Power 
Marketing Manager and COMS Alumnus 

The families of potential students at Council Oak Montessori School often wonder about the same things.  

A Montessori education sounds nice. They want their children to enjoy school and to have autonomy in the classroom, but how can they be sure Montessori will provide that? How does Council Oak measure results without tests or grades? 

It is true that Montessori students enjoy a high level of freedom. This is the case because there is a strong base and clear structure that goes into managing a Montessori classroom, and it begins with the Montessori curriculum. 

In the office of COMS head of school Lila Jokanovic, visitors see an entire bookshelf of three-ring binders. These binders contain the scope and sequence of the Montessori curriculum from early childhood (3 years of age) through Middle Schoolcarefully detailing each concept and skill children will engage with during their time at Council Oak.  

Classroom teachers are continually assessing the progress of each student as they internalize the various concepts that have been presented to them. COMS teachers are certified through one of the two major Montessori associations (AMS or AMI). Through that training they become experts in presenting Montessori materials, develop strong skills of observation, and attain tools of formative assessment to help get a more rounded idea of how a child is doing.  

COMS Children’s House students (ages 3 to 6 years) are likely able to name and identify the continents by the middle of the year. By the time they move to the Lower Elementary classroom (6 to 9 yearolds), they have an understanding of the map of the United States and begin studying biomes.  

The COMS curriculum is designed so each student can progress at their own pace, but there are general milestones. Before reaching Lower Elementary, students who have spent three years with COMS will likely be reading. They also have a basic introduction to operations and the decimal system in mathematics.  

On top of these traditional academic skills, Montessori students gain practical life skills such as sewing, ironing, and conflict resolution. In fact, a large part of Montessori curriculum is acquiring skills that go beyond traditional markers of education. 

When people ask about measurable results in Montessori, COMS teachers certainly have a lot to point to. However, the curriculum goes beyond that. There is a difference between memorizing the times table and developing an intuitive understanding of multiplication. 

COMS measures progress and produces exemplary academic results. What goes beyond that – the deep understanding, intrinsic motivation, problem solving, and social development – that is what sets Montessori apart. 

Busy Not Bored. A guide to school vacation activities   


Over the course of winter vacation, kids often travel the bumpy road from excitement to boredom. Staying in your pajamas all day gets old fast. What’s there to on cold winter days? Here are a few family-friendly ideas.  

“Threads of Imagination,” an exhibit exploring fashion as an art form through the creative work of five Beverly/Morgan Park artists continues at Ridge Historical Society, 10621 S. Seeley until mid-January. The exhibit is a combination of the fascinating history of noted fashion designer Alla Ripley, classic fashion drawings from the 1960s, and displays of contemporary clothing that combines art, fashion and social justice as well as vintage sewing machines and accessoriesCall for open hours. Info: 773-881-1675 or 

Introduce the kids to one of the finest art collections in Chicago at the Vanderpoel Art Association Gallery, Ridge Park, 9625 S. Longwood Dr. Founded in 1913 in memory of Dutch artist John H. Vanderpoel, a resident of Beverly/Morgan Park and beloved art instructor at the School of the Art Institute, the collection of more than 600 works features pieces donated by the artists – many of them Vanderpoel’s students who went on to earn national and international reputations — and collectors. The gallery is open Tues. and Thurs., 1 to 4 p.m., and Sat., 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Info:   773-294-8311 

Whether your family likes the action of skating, the challenge of gymnastics or the de-stressing benefits of yoga, there are a variety of drop-in options at Morgan Park Sports Center, 11505 S. WesternSeveral yoga and fitness classes are open for youth and adults; open gym has spots for parents with babies and tots, and for kids age 7 and up; and open skating is scheduled for all ages on Saturday and Sunday afternoons (rent skates for just $3). Check the schedule online at for days, times and registration, or register in advance on site.  Info: 773-840-4622.  

A fast-and-fun tradition, the annual Holiday Dodge Ball Tournament for 19th Ward elementary school students takes place Dec. 26 and 27, Chicago High School for Agricultural Sciences, 3857 W. 111th St. Registration is required by Thurs., Dec. 19 at Players will be grouped by age randomly, and team rosters will be available in advance. Info: or 773-238-8766. Sponsored by County Fair, Illinois State Sen. Bill Cunningham, State Rep. Fran Hurley and the 19th Ward Youth Foundation. 

Winners and finalists in the Beverly Arts Center Art Competition will be on exhibit through Dec. 29 in the Jack Simmerling Gallery at the Center, 2407 W. 111th St. Admission is free. After viewing works by talented Chicago area artists, check out the BAC’s School of the Arts winter schedule and see if there’s a class to inspire a young artist in your family. BAC classes cover a wide range of visual and performance arts for all ages. Info: 773-445-3838 or   

Yes kids, there’s a way to see movies that does not entail streaming on Netflix. On Mon., Dec. 30, 12th Annual 19th Ward Children’s Film Festival will screen “Toy Story 4 at 10 a.m., and the live action version of “Aladdin” at 2 p.m., on the big screen in the theater at Beverly Arts Center, 2407 W. 111th St. Admission is $1 per person, per film and is only available on the day of the event. Tickets are issued on first come, first served basis and seating is limited.  Parent chaperones appreciated. Sponsors: 19th Ward Ald. Matt O’Shea, Illinois State Sen. Bill Cunningham, State Rep. Fran Hurley, Beverly Arts Center and 19th Ward Youth Foundation.  

Families are invited to take the Winter Break Out Adventure in Dan Ryan Woods, Thurs, Jan 2, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Meet at the visitor center 87th and Western, for sledding and snowshoeing (if there’s enough snow) as well as hiking and other activities. Free! Info: 708-386-4042 or 

Winter is a great time to lose yourself in a good book. Plan a visit to the Beverly Branch Library, 1962 W. 95th St., or the Walker Branch Library, 11071 S. Hoyne, to browse the stacks for books that will capture your imagination.  While there, check out upcoming programs that include story time, crafts and discussion 

Looking ahead to 2020, Beverly Arts Center, 2407 W. 111th St., is offering Winter Days Off School Arts Camps on days when CPS schools are closed: Dr. Martin Luther King Day, Jan. 20; End of Quarter 2 day, Jan. 31; and President’s Day, Feb. 17. Camps are open to children age 5 through 12, and activities include workshops in dance, music, theater and visual arts. Each camp is $42 per child ($38 for BAC members), with pre-camp and after care offered for additional fees. Info: 773-445-3838 or 

Vanderpoel School Library Rejuvenated 

By Kristin Boza 

Many adults attribute their success to their elementary school library. Having a room dedicated to reading and research is important for students. With numerous CPS budget cuts over the years, many public schools lost their school libraries and librarians. Students at Vanderpoel Humanities Academy, 9510 S. Prospect, began a quest that resulted in the entire community coming together to revitalize their school library. 

Kim DonsonVanderpoel alum and former Vanderpoel librarian, is entering her 25th year at the school, now as the Student Affairs Administrator. After graduating from college and completing her student teaching at Vanderpoel, she was offered a spot as the librarian. About five years ago, the library was closed and the space was used for computer classes. Donson was concerned about the students not only losing out on their school library, but also the lessons she taught as an extension of what they learned in the classroom. 

“School libraries are so much more than grabbing a book off the shelf,” Donson said. “Librarians teach students how to research and find books, as well as provide a valuable hour of instruction for the students.” 

The journey to the revitalized library began when a few Vanderpoel alumnae, one of whom participated in the Obama Foundation Community Leadership Corps, formed Black & Well, an organization designed to integrate wellness into the black community in Chicago. The women held a contest for Vanderpoel students to come up with an idea and develop an implementation plan that would benefit their school, with the winner earning $500 to put the plan into motion.  

One group of 7th graders wanted to start up the school library again. Although their project didn’t win the contest, their proposal gained the attention of Carla Herr, president of the GFWC Beverly Hills Junior Woman’s Club. The General Federation of Women’s Clubs, of which the Beverly Hills Junior Woman’s Club is a part, has a history of creating public libraries dating back to the 1930s; based on that history, Herr knew this project would be a great fit for her club. 

“I contacted the school and offered our services. We started sharing our book drive on social media in July and ultimately delivered nearly 3,000 books to Vanderpoel,” Herr said. “Once we started collecting, we cleaned each book and sorted them by grade level and author. Kim [Donson] even worked weekends to accommodate our deliveries to make this a reality, and we wouldn’t have been able to do it if not for her energy and enthusiasm. We were also able to furnish a reading nook with beanbag chairs, a rug, some throw pillows, a rocking chair and some additional bookcases.” 

“I love and appreciate Carla and her team and all the work they’ve done,” Donson said. “Our students completely organized the library, shelving books and cleaning up the space. The best part was hearing a student say, ‘The library is good for someone like me who has a hard time reading; it’s good to come in here so I can practice.’ That’s what it’s all about and libraries are so important for our students.” 

The donations from the Beverly Hills Juniors Club went beyond what Donson expected, and the library has been transformed into a beautiful, usable space. Currently, Donson teaches six classes with the hope to have a class for every kindergarten through 8th grade class next year. 

“We are a really small club, but we try to pick projects that are impactful,” Herr said. “Many of our members are former educators and they know that reading is a wonderful way to experience things without ever leaving your home.” 

Herr and the Beverly Hills Juniors are continuing to collect books; to schedule a pick-up, email 

New Clissold Principal 

By Krinstin Boza 

JaMonica Marion was named the new principal at Clissold Elementary School, 2350 W. 110th Pl, in September. A graduate of Mount Greenwood Elementary School and the Chicago High School for Agricultural Sciences (CHSAS), Marion brings a depth of experience with students of all ages to encourage the Clissold Cougars to climb higher. 

Marion’s career began at CHSAS, where she taught in the careers and leadership department and also served as a college and career coach, ultimately working her way up to become the Agriculture Department Chair. Her strength in curriculum development and relationshipbuilding led to her students being afforded opportunities to make connections with universities and agriculture industry companies. 

Seeking additional administrative opportunities, Marion moved on to a Resident Principal position at Matthew Gallistel Language Academy, where she focused her efforts on increasing attendance and working closely with the bilingual advisory committee and parent advisory committee with the goal of providing parents with the resources to support their children outside of the school building.  

As she settles into her new role as Clissold principal, Marion is also set on completing a Doctorate in Education through National Louis University, focusing her dissertation on the high school drop-out crisis and finding ways to enhance the opportunities of external organizations to provide wraparound services to students in need. Marion holds two masters degrees, one in technology education and the other in educational leadership, in addition to numerous endorsements in general science, language arts, computer science, technology and agricultural science. 

Hard work and discipline are instilled in Marion’s personality, and she hopes to inspire Clissold students to put forth the same effort. “I spent the majority of my career at Chicago High School of Agricultural Sciences, and I got to know the kids and the community; I understand the supports that kids need to make successful transitions to the next part of their life” Marion said. “I’m able to talk to parents and students about why what they do now in elementary school matters for high school, college and the workforce. Our kids will be successful because I know what is needed from them in high school — I’m bringing that idea down to the elementary school level so that they are fully equipped with the skill sets they need to push their trajectory even further.” 

In the short-term, Marion seeks to ensure that communication with parents is paramount. “I want parents to understand what their students are achieving and learning in the classroom, and more importantly, how parents can continue that learning at home,” Marion said. “I also will communicate with the community through my Coffee and Snack with a Principal program. We are a neighborhood school, so I want to be able to share the good things that are going on in our school with the community.” 

Partnering with local businesses is also a priority, as a way to develop relationships to support the students’ learning as they take what is happening in the classroom and apply it to the real world. All of these tactics will be used to create a strong foundation to ultimately increase student enrollment and increase retention. 

“The most exciting part of being Clissold’s principal is coming into a school with strong family involvement. Everyone is willing to jump in and help, and many have reached out to me to ask what I need and how they can support me,” Marion said. “It’s great to see so many parents involved in helping our students achieve success.” 

Sutherland Opens Outdoor Learning Space 

By Kristin Boza  

Sutherland Elementary School, 10015 S. Leavitt St., is encouraging students to get dirty in an effort to better understand the environment. As part of a couple of grants earned by parents, staff, and Principal Meg Burns, Sutherland students will start the school year with a brandnew outdoor mural and outdoor educational space to enhance their life sciences education. 

During the tail end of the 2018-2019 school year, the school’s Green Team, led by parent Becca Blue and parent/Sutherland employee Kristin Loverde, applied for and won a $10,000 grant to create an outdoor learning space and pollinator garden. Students will have the opportunity to engage in hands-on learning in the space, while planting pollinator-attracting plants and then studying them as they learn about the lifecycle of a plant. 

“This is part of our initiative to create more outdoor spaces and hands-on learning activities for our children. We recognize that not everything happens at a desk! We’re committed to making sure that our children get out of the classroom and into the world,” Burns said. “It makes sense that if you are studying pollination or how plants grow that you can get outside and participate in that process.”  

The outdoor space has a sitting area and a variety of workstations. “Every child is going to have the dirt on their hands of this garden to make our pollinator garden grow,” Burns said. “Our goal is to create a safe habitat for pollinators, like bees and butterflies.”  

The pollinator garden is in addition to the school’s established learning garden, where vegetables and herbs are harvested and donated to the St. Sabina Food Pantry. Chickens may be added in the future to further develop the life sciences curriculum. 

Last year, students in 5th through 8th grades worked with Chicago-based artist Damon Reed on designing a mosaic mural that highlights the outdoor pollinator space. Through a partnership with the BAC, Reed worked with the students after school to create the mosaic.  

“The mural is just spectacular; we also consider this our gift to our neighbors — we wanted to give them a beautiful piece of art and a garden to appreciate,” Burns said. 

A ribbon cutting ceremony is planned for Sat., Oct. 5. The students will work throughout September to plant the garden, and then will show it off to the community during a pollinator festival and family-friendly gathering. 

Sutherland is also working with Seven Generations Ahead, an Oak Park-based group dedicated to building ecologically stable and healthy communities, to promote a zero-waste initiative.  

“We are becoming more mindful of the materials that we purchase to try to reduce our waste and, ultimately, our carbon footprint,” Burns said. The school also partners with Openlands, a nature conservancy organization, to explore wildlife in Beverly/Morgan Park.  Both partnerships, along with the outdoor classroom, support Sutherland’s environmental curriculum. 


Local Students Honored for Service to Others 


The Beverly Area Planning Association Youth Community Service Award recognizes 7th and 8th grade students from each Beverly/Morgan Park public elementary school, and a student in the 7th and 8th grade program at Morgan Park High School.   

The award was established last year to honor students who are dedicated to improving their school and community by actively serving others. Students are chosen for the award by their principals and all of the public schools were encouraged to participate.   

“BAPA is all about community and service, so the Education Committee wanted to create an award that supports this mission,” said Heather Wills, chair of the BAPA Education Committee.  We want our young people to value service and see it as an essential part of any strong community.  We have some amazing students in our community and this is an opportunity to promote the excellent work they are doing.”   

Awards were presented by BAPA Executive Director Susan Flood and BAPA Director of School and Safety Programs Gary Jenkins. Eacaward winner was given a $25 gift certificate to Bookies. 

Following are profiles of the winners. 

Mark Dace 

Kellogg School 

Mark Dace was in the International Baccalaureate Middle Years Programme at Kellogg School since the 6th grade.  He is an outstanding student who was consistently on the Principal’s Honor Roll for straight As. One requirement of the IBMYP is that students complete a minimum of 10 community and service hours each year. Mark exceeded that minimum by a great deal! 

While in 6th grade, Mark put in service hours volunteering at his church, shoveling snow for neighbors, and working at a blood drive. In his 7th grade year, Mark worked as a member of the Kellogg Safety Patrol, volunteered at the school’s weekend Open House, assisted at a hunger walk, and again helped at his local church and with a blood drive.   

As an 8th grader, Mark earned his community and service hours while working on a Community Project entitled “Grow Businesses, Grow,” in which he brought attention to the importance of supporting local businesses in Beverly/Morgan Park. 

Over the past three years, Mark has done Community and Service in excess of 73 hours.  Kellogg teachers and staff are proud of his ability to balance an academic and extra-curricular life, and feel that Mark is most-deserving of the BAPA Youth Community Service Award. 


Andrea Morris 

Vanderpoel Humanities Academy 

Andrea Morris is a 2019 8th grade graduate from Vanderpoel Humanities Academy“I enjoy reading books that’ll give me cognition, direction and aspirations to help me achieve all of my goals in life,” Andrea wrote. 

Fulfilling goals is something she does well! Andrea is a member of VHA’s Beta Club and Student Council, she also played on her school’s volleyball team.  

A straight A student throughout 8th grade, Andrea was selected to attend Gwendolyn Brooks College Prep Academy High School.  She is an active member of the Kroc Center where she has attended various classes in piano, swimming and work-out sessions.   

I have achieved all of my elementary school goals (for the most part) and look forward to a bright and prosperous high school and college future,” she wrote. 

Karisha Thomas 

Esmond School 

Esmond School nominated Karisha Thomas for BAPA’s Youth Community AwardKarisha is a leader among her peers as well as in her community. She has a honest and helpful spirit. Dedicated to community service, Karisha helps out with her local place of worship in community outreach.  

Emani James 

Morgan Park High School  

Emani James was a dedicated member of the Academic Center 8th grade class at Morgan Park High School.  As a part of the Academic Center, Emani received high school credit for numerous classes.  She has been on the honor roll every quarter and is an outstanding student.   

Emani is kind to others and shows empathy.  Her teachers could always rely on Emani to contribute to discussion in the classroom and to offer creative insights to ideas.  She never missed a deadline and worked hard to articulate herself through her essays, projects, labs and daily work. 

Emani was a member of the Morgan Park Book Club. She is active in her church community, loves to draw, has a great sense of humor, and is overall a pleasure to be around.  She is the type of student and person who teachers and parents love!  She made Morgan Park proud and her teachers are happy to share her talents and achievements with the larger community of Beverly/Morgan Park. 

Demetria Adams 

Clissold School 

Demetria Adams recently completed the 7th grade student at Clissold School. Middle School science teacher Vanessa Jordan recommended Demetria for the BAPA Youth Community Award. 

Demetria Adams serves in Clissold’s Young Leaders group where she helps develop plans for students to feel safe, challenged and equally treated. The group recruited other students to help fulfill that mission. Demetria, while serving as a young leader, lead her homeroom in social, emotional exercises. 

Demetria and another student demonstrated an inventive and creative idea to make their community stronger. They developed an Easter egg hunt in which plastic eggs were filled with pieces of paper on which each student wrote a positive quality of a classmate. Students who found the eggs read the quality to the person it was about, and also shared another positive quality about that person. The class loved the activity! 

Demetria has consistently shown that she is compassionate, reliable, and hard working,” Ms. Jordan wrote. “I can always depend on her to help others and to demonstrate selfcontrol and forgiveness when she is mistreated by others . . .  Demetria is a wonderful person whom I’m blessed to have in my homeroom. 

Kailie Patrick 

Sutherland School 

Kailie Patrick is a recent graduate from Elizabeth H. Sutherland Elementary School. Kailie was a student leader for Sutherland’s Environmental Club, and in that role led student groups in weekly organization and collecting of all recycling in the school.  She also planned and participated in monthly Clean & Green Service activities.  She promoted going green and encouraged all stakeholders to have a positive environmental mindset. Kailie has continued to care for the urban garden which she helped to install.     

As a member of Sutherland’s Stew Crew, Kailie mentored new crew members and coached students on what it means to be in Stew Crew.  As a crew member, Kailie worked with various grades leading activities such as read alouds and talking circles, and advocating for student rights such as gender equality, an idea sparked when students questioned why boys were continually asked to set up and take down assemblies.   

For her International Baccalaureate Middle Years Programme community project, Kalie hosted a youth writer’s workshop at Grove Heights Baptist Church. She invited students from Schmid Elementary School to attend her workshop and presented various writing activities geared to grade levels for primary and middle school students.     

Kailie leads by example, always finding ways to better the school, community, and herself.   

Ma’Leyah Porter  

Barnard School 

Barnard Elementary named Ma’Leyah Porter, recent 8th grade graduatefor the BAPA Youth Community Service Award for the 2018-19 school year.  Maleyah was born in Chicago and attended Barnard School since 1st grade. 

She began serving her community in 6th grade, in fulfillment of the International Baccalaureate Middle Years Programme Level 1 requirements.  Since then, she has prepared nutrient packets for international hunger relief at Feed My Starving Children in Aurora and Schaumberg, washed and fed dogs at an animal shelter, raised money for her great grandmother’s homeless shelter, Willis House of Refuge, picked up trash around the shelter, helped set up a fundraiser for a benevolent social club, and worked at a charity event to memorialize a child who died from violence. 

For her 8th grade IB/MYP Community Project, Ma’Leyah and her two partners, Ciara Gerring and Karla Grant, held technology classes for the elderly after school at Barnard.  The lessons taught cell phone and computer basics so that seniors could use their devices to text and email, as well as for fun things like listen to music and play games.   

Ma’Leyah will attend Simeon Career Academy in the fall.  She wants to study in the medical field, and plans to be a surgeon when she grows up. Congratulations to Ma’Leyah from the Barnard learning community, and to all the BAPA Youth Community Service Award recipients for their good deeds. 

Three MPHS Students Admitted to U of C Collegiate Scholars Program 

By Kristin Boza 

Since 2003, the University of Chicago has hosted the Chicago Public School students in the Collegiate Scholars Program, a competitive three-year program designed to prepare students in grades 10-12 for admittance and achievement at the top colleges in the country. Only 50 spots are open for each new class; three of those spots have been earned by Morgan Park High School (MPHS) students Devan King, Caval Spearman and Erica Taylor. The students begin their Collegiate Scholars journey this summer, and will have the opportunity to take college courses, go on trips around Chicago, and participate in SAT prep classes, among many other unique academic and social opportunities.  

According to U of C, 100% of program graduates earn a four-year college degree, with 70% of them attending highly selective universities. “Collegiate Scholars is an opportunity for students to broaden their academic horizons,” said Dr. Femi Skanes, MPHS principal. “We want to ensure that our students are connected to a variety of academic programs that enhance their ability to compete at Morgan Park and in the next phase of their academic pursuits. We are honored to have three of our top-performing students in this prestigious program. All three students are absolutely wonderful students who represent Morgan Park High School well.” 

MPHS Assistant Principal Kai Erguhart and Dr. Skanes helped eligible students apply, according to Carisa Parker, MPHS parent and LSC Chair. Parker’s daughter and Skanes’ son are two of the three MPHS students accepted into the program.  

“There was an essay portion in the application where students had to talk about how they overcame obstacles, how they see themselves as a leader in their community, and what they hope to gain from this experience,” Parker said. “Ms. Erguhart and Dr. Skanes made sure the students were on task and they even took personal time to give them some interview skills to increase their confidence. I am so proud of these three students and know that they will not only make the Morgan Park community proud, but also be future leaders who help make a difference in society.” 

Students begin the program during the summer after their freshman year of high school. Two of the MPHS students were available for comments for this article. 

 Erica Taylor, from Washington Heights, is looking forward to interacting with people from different cultural backgrounds. “For the next three years, I hope to improve my test-taking skills, grow as a leader, and participate in fun and interesting activities around the city,” she said. “After high school, I aspire to go to the university of my choice and attend a medical program, after which I will become a pediatrician or a gynecologist working in my community to help women and children.”  

Taylor credits her mom, Carisa Parker, to pushing her and giving her the necessary tools to be successful. “I would also like to thank the new administration who cares about our school’s students for pushing me to sign up for this program and preparing me for each step in the process.” 

Beverly/Morgan Park resident Caval Spearman, Jr., son of Dr. Skanes, is looking forward to taking advanced classes and gaining experience to prepare for college. “I hope to gain more maturity, more knowledge to be prepared for college, experiences that will guide me to the next level, and gain a bond with friends that can last a long time. After high school, I aspire to go to the University of California and major in Mass Communications,” Spearman said. “[I’m thankful] for the love and support of my family and teachers at Morgan Park throughout this journey.” 


A New Adventure Every Week at BAC Summer Camp 


Art, science, superheroes and classic fairy tales! Kids will be having a new adventure every week in summer camps at the Beverly Arts Center, 2407 W. 111th St. Camp sessions run June 10 through Aug. 30, with Summer Arts Camps open to children ages 6 to 12 and the Totally Terrific Tots Summer Camp for children ages 3 to 5. Sign up for one, a few or the whole summer. 

Summer Arts Camp brings in teaching artists who specialize in a vast array of arts curricula to inspire campers. Participants are split into age groups, and camps run from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Each session is $420 ($378 for BAC members). For additional fees, parents can opt to extend the day to include pre-camp7:30 to 8:30 a.m. and/or after care, 4 to 6 p.m.  

Summer Art Camp sessions start with Art Attack!a variety of visual , fine art and performance art workshops that range from drawing and sculpture to improv comedy and crazy crafts; Weird Science uses art to explore aspects of STEM and Common Core standards including engineering, geometry and chemistrySuper Heroes vs. Villains covers comic book art from creating characters to filming original action-packed movies, including a premiere showing on the big screen; You Can’t Stop the Beat uses music and dance to explore music theory, composing and rhythm, and creating music videosBroadway Bound concentrates on the theatre arts from song and dance to clowning to puppetry, and culminates with a live performance in the Baffes Theatre; and camp sessions finish with the Weird Wacky Wonderful End of Summer Extravaganza, an anything-is-possible adventure in all aspects of the arts.  

In the Totally Terrific Tots Summer Camp children will experience dynamic programming that includes theatre, music, dance and visual arts. The camp runs Mon. through Fri., 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.,, and costs $161 per week ($145 for BAC members). 

Tot camps start with Once Upon a Time, experiencing fairy tale classics through dramatic play and visual arts; I Like to Move It will keep campers dancing to new rhythms and beats; Every Child is an Artist will help children discover their inner artists; Happy Holidays celebrates Christmas – and a lot of other holidays – in July; dress, act and play as favorite Disney characters for All Things Disney week; campers will go from page to stage with the works of Eric Carle in Little One, Little One, What Do You See?You Are the Music in Me will unleash inner rock stars; Little Scientists will explore the world around them with creative ways to learn scientific method; and the camp sessions finish with the Greatest Week on Earth covering clowning, juggling, balloon art, hula hoop, carnival games and even face painting. 

Get a complete schedule of BAC summer camps for the kids and classes of all ages at, 773-445-3838 or by stopping by the Center. 


A ‘Chance’ Encounter: Grant Brings Arts Opportunities to Students at Esmond School 

By Grace Kuikman 

“I don’t make songs for free, I make ’em for freedom.” 

Chance the Rapper, “Blessings” (Coloring Book, 2016) 

Chance the Rapper knows Chicago, Chicago youth and Chicago Public Schools. And he knows that the arts can make lessons “sing” for young students.  

In 2017, Chance the Rapper earmarked a generous gift, called the New Chance: Arts & Literature Fund, to underwrite three years of fine arts programming in selected CPS schools. Esmond Elementary, 1865 W. Montvale Ave., is one of those schools.  

The grant enabled Esmond principal Dr. Angela Tucker to hire Sondra Davis to teach music and performance arts at the 265-student, K-8 neighborhood school.  

Last year Davis, a 16-year veteran CPS teacher and adjunct professor at Moody Bible Institute and administrator of their Community Music Schoolbegan teaching general music education with an arts integration to enhance the core curriculum, choir and drama at Esmond. She sees all of the students for instruction at least once a week, and also works with students on choir and drama performances.  

Davis enthusiastically embraces the vision for the arts developed by principal Tucker.  That vision is to use the arts to enhance student learning, tapping the children’s “hunger and thirst” for the arts, Davis said.   

A centerpiece of Davis’s program is the series of school-wide assemblies that combine history with the arts, which was kicked off last year with a Tribute to Motown and followed this winter by a Tribute to Black History. Coming up this spring is a Tribute to Jazz. A Talent Showcase is also being planned.  

According to Davis, Dr. Tucker invites the community in to enjoy the assemblies, bringing school families and neighbors together to showcase student talent and share in the excitement for lessons that are personified in the performances.  

Davis, who holds master’s degrees in vocal performance and music education, said music is excellent for students because it is “a way to bridge the gap socially” and in other ways, and because you need discipline to learn music. Davis, now working on her doctorate in educational leadership, is already seeing how the performing arts program is building self-esteem among the Esmond students while also supporting learning in academic areas.  

Another intrinsic part of the performing arts program underwritten by the New Chance funding is the Esmond School band program taught by is Roxanne Stevenson, a professor at Chicago State University.  

Grammy Award-winning music artist and community activist Chance the Rapper was born and raised in Chicago. He recorded his first full length mixtape while a senior at Jones College Prep High School in 2011, and within the year started earning recognition and awards for his music. He has performed throughout the world. Through his Social Works Chicago organization, Chance the Rapper supports initiatives designed to empower young people through arts, education and civic engagement. 

According to Davis, some of the benefits of the arts programming funded by New Chance include enlarging students capacity of learning, promoting their ability to express themselves, [allowing] them to make real world connections and [broadening] their scope of engagement to encompass the ideas and talents of their peers.”   

Or, as the Social Works Chicago website says, “To inspire creativity, to build dreams, to let you be you. 

Learn more about the initiative at Learn more about Esmond School at