Local Schools Bloom With Accolades and Activities 

By Tina Jenkins Bell 

It’s a beautiful day in the neighborhood as Mr. Rogers once said. This is particularly true in the Beverly/Morgan Park communities where we have some of the best schools in the city of Chicago and in some cases the nation. Even better, our schools are open and blooming with accolades, community partnerships, and activities. Let’s start with accolades. 

Christ the King, a Blue Ribbon School 

If you’ve driven by Christ the King School recently and noticed the blue balloon arch, the cardboard trophies, and other celebratory decorations, you may have wondered what was happening. Well, the U.S. Department of Education recently named Christ the King School as a National Blue Ribbon School — one of the best places to get an education in the nation. This year, the Blue Ribbon status was awarded to 297 schools across the United States including 17 in Illinois. Christ the King was the only Catholic School in the state to receive the award. Dr. Ann Marie Riordan, principal, led the school through the nominating process. She will join other recipients at a two-day award ceremony in Washington, D.C., in November, which along with the symbol of exemplary teaching and learning and local and state media coverage and profiles are the benefits experienced by Blue Ribbon Schools. 

“Christ the King provides a challenging curriculum that exceeds grade-level expectations, and we are able to achieve those goals because the faculty and staff embrace multiple paths toward learning,” Dr. Riordan said. “Our motto is ‘Dream Big’ because we know that if we remain determined and respectful, all while being led by our faith, we can achieve great things, and this award is a direct reflection of that effort. We are humbled by this remarkable achievement.” 

Up to 420 schools may be nominated by the Illinois Department of Education annually across the state, but each school must complete a comprehensive application that details the school’s practices and goals.  

Community Partnerships 

Kudos to the St. Barnabas School Culture Club for teaming up with Bookish Literacy Center on 103rd Street to participate in the Beverly Art Walk. Students exhibited and sold art during the community wide event in which over 150 artists participated.  

Another thumbs up goes to Sutherland School for the successful, family friendly I Madonnari Festival. The festival was held in conjunction with the Beverly Art Walk and offered art-making activities, including circus arts, a magic show, music, and dancing. 

Morgan Park Academy Celebrates 150 Years 

Cheers to Morgan Park Academy (MPA), which is celebrating 150 as an educational institution in the Beverly/Morgan Park community.  

“Evolving through a century and half, changing names multiple times, and weathering pandemics and wars, the Academy and its alumni have left an indelible mark on Chicago and America,” said MPA Head of School Mercedes Z. Sheppard. On Oct. 22, MPA will host a 150th anniversary gala and reception at the Palmer House, along with other events throughout the school year. For tickets to the gala or information on other events, contact Jim Reedy, Director of Communications, jreedy@morganparkacademy.org. 

BAPA Tutor Corps 

The BAPA Tutor Corps is back at work and looking for volunteers to help tutor students in a variety of subjects. To sign up, contact me at tbell@bapa.org 

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