By Tina Jenkins Bell
BAPA School Liaison
Morgan Park High School (MPHS) has been renovating their external facilities since 2021 and the inside of the school this past school year. Whether the outcome of these renovations began with the former administration or continued with the present, principal Daniel Kuzma couldn’t be prouder of the outcome.
“There is a lot to be said for what you see and how you feel when you enter the space . . . that is beautiful and has good, quality artwork displaying the faces and experiences of current students throughout the building,” Kuzma said. “Our buildings are maintained well so that a student’s experience from period one through eight is positive and reflective of our student body.”
In 2021, MPHS began a renovation plan that included such changes and enhancements as a more open, lit, and expanded parking lot, to a brand new lighted sports field marked for football, track, soccer, and even lacrosse.
On the inside of the building, hallway walls are decorated with murals that remind students of International Baccalaureate values, chronicle student experiences, and teacher aspirations, and display MPHS alumni, like Mae Jemison and a host of others, to demonstrate the heights to which students can rise.
The teachers’ lounge was also renovated to look like a nice, comfortable living room complete with access to a kitchen, a line of copiers to one side, and several computers on the other side.
During a tour with BAPA staff, Kuzma also showed a large storage space that had been emptied for a future store managed and operated by students.
As much for the students, Kuzma also sees the recent renovations as an asset for the community. This past spring, MPHS hosted their own Clean and Green and a second one in conjunction with the Beverly Area Planning Association’s community wide Clean and Green efforts on Earth Day. Students doing detention also have the option of staying inside or getting out in the air to support school clean up effort.
“Clissold has a really robust K to 8 track program. Twice a week, they’re coming over to Morgan Park High School with 53 8th graders and using our track. It’s a beautiful track plus we’re a neighborhood school and Clissold is a feeder school. Their family members come up here and sit in the stands to watch them practice,” Kuma said, adding that Clissold students practice alongside MPHS’s track team.
Kuzma said soccer teams for area Chicago parks use the field to play, too.
“It just creates a community vibe— instead of this is your time and this is our time. We’re trying our best to be good neighbors and to have a space that’s open to the community. If anybody’s going to honor the space and treat it as their own, they can get some benefit out of it,” Kuzma said.