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 www.beverlyartcenter.org, 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 www.socialworkschi.org. Learn more about Esmond School at www.esmond.cps.edu. 

 

 

 

Think Sunshine! Sign Up Open for Summer Camps

With a chill still in the air and spring just barely have sprung it might be a little hard to imagine that the end of the school year, and with-it summer vacation, is right around the corner. Schools and organizations around the Beverly/Morgan Park are already planning their summer camps. Check out the offerings available for students from kindergarten through high school in a wide variety of interests listed here.  

St. Xavier University 

3700 W 103rd St., www.sxu.edu 

Boys Basketball Camp: June 24-27. Grades 5-10.  

SXU Volleyball Camp: July 9-10. Grades 4-12.  

Youth Lacrosse Camp: June 24-26. Grades 1-8all levels of experience. 

Jazz Camp: July 15-19, 2019. Grades 6-12.  

Student Media Summer Camp: June 24-28. Grades 9-12 will learn about radio broadcasting at SXU’s radio station, WXAV. 

Mrs. King’s Arts Camp 

11109 S. Longwood Dr., www.mrskingsartcamp.com 

Five themed week-long sessions between July 9 and Aug. 3 engage artists ages 510 in exploring mediums from collage to clay and everything in between. 

Bethlehem Lutheran Church 

9401 S Oakley Ave., www.Bethlehem-chicago.org 

Peace Camp, June 24-28Grades 1-6. Kids will learn to be peacemakers at school and in the community.  

All Day Montessori School 

1819 W 99th St.www.alldaymontessori.org 

Two camp sessions, July 2-July 26, and July 20-Aug. 23, offered age-appropriate levels for preschoolers through elementary schoolers. Camp themes vary by week and range from plants and animals to exploring local history.  

Morgan Park Academy 

2153 W 111th St.www.mpasummercamp.org 

2-week day camp sessions are June 24-July 5, July 9- July 19, and July 22-Aug. 2. Campers in grades K-8 will explore interests from science to arts and crafts and cooking, as well as more traditional day camps.  

Beverly Arts Center 

2407 W 111th St.www.beverlyartcenter.org 

Camps offer opportunities for kids to get creative in media from painting and drawing to music and theatre to “weird science” themes. Sessions for age groups ranging from 3 to 12 years old begin June 10. For toddlers aged 3-5 there are nine, 1-week sessions; for older children there are six 2-week sessions. 

Chicago Park District  

www.chicagoparkdistrict.com 

6week day camps and specialty camps start June 24 parks throughout the city. Listings will be available online Apr. 8, and registration begins Apr. 22.  

School News

MPHS Vendor Fair 

Strengthening the Ties That Bind: A Community Affair will be held Sun., Mar. 10, 12 to 4 p.m., Morgan Park High School, 1744 W. Pryor. The event will feature a variety of vendors and organizations offering items for purchase such as food, clothes, jewelry and art. Shop to support the neighborhood high school.   

 

St. Cajetan Warriors for St. Baldrick’s 

St. Cajetan School, 2447 W, 112th St., is Braving the Shave and Taking the Stage for the 5th Annual St. Baldrick’s event, Sat., Mar. 9, 5 to 9 p.m. in the gym. The Irish Fest will feature entertainment by local Irish Dance schools. All money raised through the St. Baldrick’s site goes directly toward pediatric cancer research, as the school and parish continue to remember and honor Liam Bonner, Elliot McGann and Beau Dowling. Sign up or donate: www.stbaldricks.org/events/StCajetan2019 

 

Kellogg School Awarded Bee Grant  

Whole Kids Foundation with the Bee Cause Project has awarded Kellogg School, 9241 S. Leavitt, a $1500 Bee Grant to develop a pollinator garden at the school by adding two bee hives 

Kellogg School has been growing crops of student gardeners for a few years now, and the grant will add a new and fascinating component to outdoor education. The program was introduced at a meeting in February when a bee keeper from South Side Occupational came out to educate the school community about bees and pollination. 

The Whole Kids Foundation was founded by Whole Foods MarketThe Bee Grant provides support for elementary schools to install educational bee hives that enable students to observe bees up close and learn about the role bees play in as pollinators in the food system. 

 

MPHS Class of 1979 40th Reunion 

The Morgan Park High School Class of 1979 will hold a reunion Fri., Aug. 17, 7 p.m., Double Tree by Hilton Hotel, 5200 W. 127th St., Alsip. Reunion events also include a catered picnic Sat., Aug. 18, 11 a.m., in picnic grove rubio 02, Midlothian. Tickets are  $100 per person and cover banquet, picnic, t-shirt and souvenir.  Purchase tickets on PayPal (login morganparksreunion@gmail.com) or send certified check or money order to MPHS 40th Reunion, P.O. Box 437332, Chicago, IL 60643. Include maiden name, number of attendees, t-shirt sizes, phone number and address. Payment deadline is July 15Questions872-216-5877. 

 

MPA Students Are Tops in National Geographic Bee 

Morgan Park Academy students Alexander Hendel, a 5th-grader and Lauren Fifer, a 6th-grader, both from Beverly/Morgan Park, and Riya Kapoor, an 8th-grader from Frankfort, were the top three finishers, respectively, in the National Geographic Bee in January.  

Hendel edged Fifer in the final round, after a long tie, by knowing that the Red Sea connects to the Gulf of Aden via the Bab el-Mandeb, a strait between Africa and the Arabian Peninsula. 

As school champion, Hendel will take an online test to see if he qualifies to compete at the state level. 

Interested in learning more about academic and extracurricular opportunities at MPA? Visit for these events: The Wonder Years: Middle School Advantage, Wed., Mar. 6, 6:30 p.m.; Lower School Spotlight, Thurs., Mar. 14, 6 p.m.; Early Education Night, Thurs., Mar. 21, 6 p.m., and the Spring Arts Showcase, Thurs., Apr. 11, 6 p.m. MPA is located at 2153 W. 111th St. For info or to register, visit morganparkacademy.org or call 773-881-6700.  

 

Mother McAuley High School Named Participant in Amazon Future Engineer Program 

Mother McAuley Liberal Arts High School has been named a participating school in the Amazon Future Engineer program, which will encourage students to explore computer science to help advance the number of women pursuing careers in Science Technology Engineering and Math (STEM) – countering gender disparity within these fields. McAuley is the largest all-girls’ Catholic high school in Chicago, and currently is one of only five all-girls’ private schools nationwide to be named part of the program.   

Through the Future Engineer program, McAuley will receive free resources for its Advanced Placement (AP) Computer Science course. Faculty directing the course will be given free professional development during the 2019-2020 school year. For students, cloud-based resources will be available to help them prepare for the AP exam.  Further extending the benefits, students who successfully complete AP Computer Science with a grade point average of 3.0 or better and decide to continue their studies in college are eligible for a $10,000 scholarship through Amazon. These same students will then qualify for an internship at Amazon during their freshman and sophomore years in college, providing they meet other requirements of the program.  

“Resources and programs are essential to direct and foster girls interest in STEM,” said Eileen O’Reilly, principal of Mother McAuley. “Mother McAuley was founded on the premise of empowering women, and this exciting partnership with Amazon supports our efforts to help our students develop skills and talents that will benefit their own education and career aspirations, while narrowing the gap between the number of women and men in STEM professions.” 

According to Amazon, women who try AP Computer Science in high school are 10 times more likely to major in the subject in college, and the Bureau of Labor Statistic reports that 58 percent of all new jobs in STEM are in computing.  

Nurturing girls’ interest in STEM fields of study is imperative, especially as STEM careers are often referred to as the jobs of the future,” said Kim Turnbull, chair of the McAuley science department. “The Amazon Future Engineer program augments our STEM pipeline and is a fantastic complement to current courses and clubs like Engineering Principles, Computer Science Essentials and Art and Emerging Technology, and Girls Who Code.”  

Mother McAuley has long emphasized the importance of experiential learning opportunities. Advancements in the school’s curriculum and facilities have fueled interest in a variety of career disciplines, from education to STEM. The Little School program – now in its 37th year – allows senior students to earn college credit and work onsite at local grade schools to gain firsthand experience as educators. Introduction to Business, and Introduction to Nursing, are college-level courses taught by university professors through a partnership with Saint Xavier University (SXU), with the latter exposing students to the SXU simulation lab. In 2012, McAuley opened two, new, Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certified, state-of-the-art Chemistry labs. Launched in 2018, the Professional ABCs (Advice Beyond the Classroom) Club introduces students to discussions, field trips and mentoring to cultivate critical networking and leadership skills. 

 

Student Project is a Labor of ‘Love Without Boundaries’

By Grace Kuikman

In late March, Beverly/Morgan Park resident Paul Duggan will be traveling to Cambodia with very precious cargo, a prosthetic hand custom-made by students at Brother Rice High School for a young girl attending a Love Without Boundaries school.

How Duggan was able to connect seniors at his old high school with a student halfway around the world is a story of how love leads to possibilities.

Love of School

Duggan grew up in Beverly/Morgan Park, and graduated from Brother Rice, setting him on a path to his position as president of Jackson Boulevard Capital Management. Duggan is an active Rice alum who supports the school in many ways.

Love of Family

A little over 18 years ago, Duggan and his wife Debbie adopted twin girls from China, the perfect completion of their family.  The Duggans joined a group of adopting parents on a chat board, and were introduced to another adopting parent, Amy Eldridge. Eldridge was committed to improving conditions for orphans in China, and when the Duggans learned she wanted to start a foundation, they opened their hearts, and stepped up with support.

Love Without Boundaries

Love Without Boundaries (LWB) was founded in 2003 with a mission to help improve conditions for orphans in China and today also brings humanitarian assistance to children in Cambodia, India and Uganda. Eldridge is the CEO and Duggan is Emeritus Chair.

Last year, the not-for-profit organization provided more than 1300 medical procedures and 92,000 hot lunches, as well as education for more than 700 children. LWB also offers healing homes for the children undergoing medical procedures, foster care and other services that put the needs of children first.

Paul Duggan remains very involved in the organization’s mission to offer “hope and healing to orphaned and vulnerable children.” He has witnessed how the work being done by LWB changes the lives of so many children, and had adopted the motto: “One Child at a Time.”

Engineering Change

Brother Rice High School has always offered top notch education as well as a commitment to charitable acts. Duggan reached out to the school to support LWB. Through their homerooms, students donate a small amount each month toward the care of a child being served by LWB.

When Duggan was introduced to the capabilities of the recently added engineering curriculum at Brother RIce, he instantly recognized a way to fill a very specific need: creating a prosthetic hand for a girl born without hands or feet who attends a LWB school in Cambodia.

Brother Rice senior engineering student Liam Coughlin is leading the project, and assisting him is Matteo Valencia, a member of the Advocacy Club. Both students are part of Rice’s award-winning robotics team.

The young men are using a manual developed by last year’s seniors, the first class to use 3D printers to create prosthetic hands. Last year, students made several “generic” hands which were donated to a not-for-profit organization in South Carolina. The hands have articulated joints, and are wired, so movements in the wrist enable the fingers and thumb to bend, making the prosthetics are functional.

Creating Change

Creating hands custom-made for an individual and using measurements provided by the young girl’s medical team in Cambodia has been challenging and rewarding for Coughlin and Valencia. Coughlin has devoted many after-school hours to creating three prosthetic right hands so the recipient can use the one that fits best and offers the most dexterity.

According to Daniel Mostyn, Science and Engineering teacher and moderator of the Robotics Team, Coughlin’s work has taken the program to a much more sophisticated level.

Duggan will bring the prosthetic hand to the young girl in March, and he has high hopes that this very special delivery will not only change the life of a young girl but lead to even more life-changing opportunities for the children in LWB schools across the world and the dedicated students at Brother Rice High School to connect.

Love Without Boundaries has the highest ratings from Charity Navigator and Guidestar. For more information about the not-for-profit organization’s work on behalf of children, visit www.lovewithoutboundaries.com.

 

 

Photo caption: Mark Donahue (Brother Rice High School President) , Dan Mostyn ( Brother Rice High School Engineering teacher and Robotics club moderator), Liam Coughlin (Brother Rice senior Robotics Club member), Matteo Valencia (Brother Rice senior Advocacy Club member), Bob Alberts (Brother Rice Principal), and Paul Duggan.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cheers to 95 Years for St. Barnabas Church

By Erin Shea Smith 

At five o’clock Christmas morning 1924, Father Timothy Hurley celebrated the first Mass of St. Barnabas Church. Now, 95 years later, the church is gathering to honor and commemorate those who devoted their time, talent and treasure to the Catholic community. 

The Cheers to 95 Year Gala, taking place Sat., Feb. 9, 6 p.m. to midnight at the Bridgeport Art Center, will benefit the “Imagine. Innovate. Inspire.” Capital Campaign efforts as St. Barnabas moves forward into its second century of service. The evening will include dinner, drinks and dancing, and feature music from Maggie Speaks.  

A highlight of the event will be the announcement of the winner of free tuition for one student for the 2019-2020 school year. Tickets are $100 each and are available now. 

St. Barnabas has three phases planned for “Imagine, Innovate, Inspire,” which will continue into 2030 and cost about $17 million for improvements throughout the campus. The project is part of the Archdiocese of Chicago’s “To Teach Who Christ Is” campaign, which has a goal of $350 million. Several parishes are part of that effort, which calls for donations to be used for parish improvements and archdiocesan needs. 

In addition to raising money for the campaign, the Gala will feature an auction and raffle, which will include items such as Chicago sporting events, a Lake Michigan sailboat ride, a stay at a mountain home in Lake Tahoe, an in-home dinner party with an executive chef and more.  

In the years leading up to the first Mass at St. Barnabas, Fr. Hurley was prevented from breaking ground on the site chosen for the new church. Neighborhood residents had successfully petitioned the city to turn the land into a park, now known as Hurley Park. Undaunted, Hurley authorized the purchase of a parcel of land where the current church sits. 

“The people of St. Barnabas are called to renew and nurture our close community of faith and are joyfully challenged to strive to recognize the grace of God at work in our daily lives,” said pastor Fr. Jim Donovan in a letter announcing the event. “We are grateful for the support we’ve received from those working alongside us as a powerful force for good in our neighborhood and city.” 

Gala tickets are $150 a person, as well as $75 for Young Alum (after 9 p.m. for drinks and dancing) and $75 for St. Barnabas staff. Sponsorships and tables are still available. Cocktail attire is required.  

To purchase tickets and learn more about the event, visit www.cheersto95years.com, email cheersto95@gmail.com, or call Anita Snow, 773-559-5651. 

Schools: Sutherland Elementary Wins Grant

By Kristin Boza

Kids’ lives revolve around whatever is going on at their school. Knowing that schools bring together communities, Sutherland Elementary School principal Meg Burns sought and earned a grant worth $120,000 annually for five years through the Community Schools Initiative (CSI).

CSI is comprised of corporate and philanthropic leaders who support school-community partnerships via Chicago Public Schools. These partnerships seek to develop relationships between public schools and third-party groups dedicated to youth, art, and social service to strengthen neighborhoods.

At Sutherland, the grant is being used to fund an assortment of after school programming with the goal of serving the children and families within its attendance area.

“The grant gives us a lot of latitude to reestablish relationships with community entities such as the Beverly Arts Center,” Burns said. The BAC is bringing in teaching artists to work with Sutherland students in after school programs. Burns is especially looking forward to bringing back a theater program to Sutherland, culminating in a spring play production.

The grant also supports the resurrection of the Sutherland choir, as well as 40 additional programs including tutoring, chess club, scrapbooking club, dance classes, creative drama classes, art classes and coding classes.

“There’s really something for every child,” Burns said. Of the 600 students currently enrolled at Sutherland, 300 of them are participating in after school programs (excluding sports) that run Monday through Friday.

“The grant also enables us to employ a resource coordinator who is in charge of maintaining our relationships within the community,” Burns said. “The resource coordinator looks at ways our students can tap into local events or service opportunities, as well as working closely with BAPA, business organizations, and local businesses to bring resources into the school.”

Burns firmly believes that the school is not just a building; rather, it is the heart of the community. “When a child is looking forward to dancing with their classmates after school or engaging in a chess tournament or programming a drone, they’re excited to get through the school day and have fun after class,” she said. “The programs also provide opportunities for our teachers to really develop some meaningful bonds with our students. The school is an alive and exciting place that is enriches our students and community.”

MPHS Teams Up with The Alliance for ‘Arts in the Dark’ Parade

By Kristin Boza 

Morgan Park High School (MPHS) juniors and seniors are taking part in an after-school arts program designed by a collaboration between the Beverly Area Arts Alliance (The Alliance), MPHS art teacher Wendie Bloxsom, and retired CPS art teacher and Golden Apple winner Mathias “Spider” Schergen. Funded through The Alliance and driven by creative and motivated artists, the program is providing students with the opportunity to create life-size moveable sculptures that they will parade in the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events (DCASE) Arts in the Dark Parade on Sat., Oct. 20, 6 to 8 p.m. on Columbus Drive. 

Schergen has been involved with The Alliance for several years. As a visual artist specializing in creating sculptures from found objects and a former art teacher at Jenner Academy of the Arts, he was an obvious partner for Arts in the Dark project based on his talent and experience.  

“The program started from scratch with neighborhood people in a very organic way,” Schergen said. “I enjoy interacting with kids and young people and facilitating activities in a communal setting. As The Alliance sought ways to participate in city-wide events, we all came together to brainstorm and work with a local school to represent the 19th Ward in the ‘Arts in the Dark’ parade.”  

Schergen and Bloxsom are leading the students through the process of creating giant puppet-like figures. 

“The kids are learning how to move beyond 2D art in creating these figures,” Schergen said. “Each week, they’re getting more comfortable and imaginative and we hope to see them make the conceptual leap to something less literal to something more fantastical and beyond the human form.” 

“Spider is a rock star in the arts education community, and I have great regard for his work,” said Corinne Rose, Alliance member and coordinator of the project. “I really think that strong public schools depend on the involvement of the community. With this project, we’re hoping to do something more in-depth and have more of an impact. We think that culminating activities are really important, not only to make the art, but have a reason to display it. The kids have a sense of being a part of something larger, and for us, it’s important to have a visual show of support for the school and the kids.” 

For inspiration in his personal art, Schergen seeks ways to turn discarded items into imaginative pieces.  

“I’ve always enjoyed making stuff with stuff; I was fascinated with things in the world since I was little,” he said. “When I was teaching full time, it was extremely foundational for me to go home and work out the day for a few hours. Working on art helps to free up my mind so I can approach my job in a fresh light.” 

Schergen stresses the importance of students gaining knowledge of working in a studio to truly embrace their creative sides.  

“The arts are so often crammed into an academic format of assessments that it becomes more important than what the kid actually made,” he said. “Studio time allows students to control their own development. When combined with exhibit experience and interaction with the larger community, the students will have a chance to explore their gifts.” 

The Alliance is fully supporting the collaboration financially through their own fundraising efforts, so there is no cost to MPHS.  

“We view this as a beginning of a supportive relationship with the high school in our community,” Rose said.

High School Admissions 101: A Seminar for Parents

Attention parents of 6th, 7th and 8th graders! Now is the time to start your search for the right high school. Ald. Matt O’Shea will host High School Admissions 101, a seminar designed to help guide parents through the high school selection process Thurs., Sept. 13, 7 p.m.,  at Clissold Elementary School, 2350 W. 110th Pl. Representatives from Chicago Public Schools will be on hand to explain the process for applying to selective enrollment high schools. Additional information will be provided about the Chicago High School for Agricultural Sciences and Morgan Park High School.   

19th Ward families have a lot of choices when it comes to high school. How can you make sure the school you choose is the right fit for your student? Speakers will explain the CPS application process, provide an overview of the private school admissions process, give guidelines for how to choose a school that is a good fit for your child, explain criteria for various public and private high school programs, offer tips on navigating open houses and high school shadow days, and more.  

Space is limited and reservations are appreciated at www.the19thward.com. Adults only.