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Monday, December 21, 2009

For your information

If you are reading this blog and you know anyone who works or who has worked at either Bennett or Shedd Schools please let them know about this blog. Also have them get into touch with me at:

Just click the image and you should be able to send an e-mail instantly provided that you are using a program such as MS Outlook, Outlook Express or Windows Mail. Thank you

Monday, December 14, 2009

Should Bennett/Shedd School have an organization such as this?

Crossposted at The Sixth Ward

I've been wanting to do a post about this for a while. At least in terms of finding ways to connect our neighborhood schools to the surrounding community. If there was a way to do that then hopefully we can provide for public school students better than any public source of funding or even any politician can ever promise. Therefore I provide this example expounded below.

South Loop School is an elementary school with two branches located @ 1212 South Plymouth Court with a branch @ 1915 South Federal Street.

Here is a description of this organization:
Friends and Family of South Loop School

Friends and Family of South Loop School, Inc. is a non-profit 501c3 organization established to enhance the educational experience of students at South Loop Elementary School. Our primary mission is to provide funds for resources not available through the normal school budget but required to operate a successful school. In the past Friends and Family of South Loop School, Inc. has enriched the learning environment at South Loop School by paying for additional classroom resources such as teacher assistants to help increase staff to student ratio, a new science laboratory and new mobile lap top computers.

With this in mind we ask that you consider being a sponsor at our annual spring benefit. We have a few options that provide flexibility for your budget. Your company will have prominent name recognition in gratitude for your support.

Your Support Is Important

Private funding plays a key role in the success of our students. While federal, state and local dollars provide some of the public school's operating expenses, it is not enough to provide access to excellence that our students deserve. With the contributions from parents, friends and local leaders like you we are able to make South Loop the school it is today. With this support, South Loop has seen an unprecedented increase in achievement from 34% of students at or above state standards to 85% in just 4 years time.
Harlan Community Academy is close to an organization such as this, but it's in fact the alumni association.

Either way there has to be a way to connect school faculty, students, neighbors or even alumni to a particular school whether on the elementary or secondary level. Especially for the purposes of enhancing the education experience for our public school students and for the purposes of raising money so that they will be successful they further they go in the educational careers.

For high school, it might be important if our young people expect to go to college. Perhaps the surrounding community can help to raise scholarship funds so that they may not only afford to go to a university, but so that they wouldn't have to depend on student loans.

In any event what could such an organization do for our neighborhood schools other than enhancing the level of instruction or achievement at the schools? Do you think this is a good idea?

Saturday, December 12, 2009

More pictures oustide of Bennett

I was there the day after Thanksgiving. Took some more pictures of the shields that adorn the school on both sides. It almost seems like a gothic or Ivy League school with all the gargoyles and seals on campus. It almost reminds me of Harvard or Yale.

This box if a fire alarm. This looks like an old-school device and who knows if it's even still used today.

These are the two seals for this school. They will repeat as on either side there are four seals and they alternate. The gargoyles will be holding the seal

This is the side entrance. No details necessary as well there is no lettering above the door and there isn't much difference between any of the gargoyles that you will find on any of the schools entrances. Whether to the auditorium, gymnasium, or either of the front doors to the school.

This is the new campus park. There used to be a playset and a field house. In addition there was once a concrete "baseball diamond" complete with a "batting cage". Neither are still there any longer.

Like most parks there are a set of lights along the periphery or at least along the paths. I almost wonder why there was a need to set up parks at public schools around the city. The only other one I'm aware of is at McDade although in that case it's in the back of the school off of it's south Indiana Avenue location.

There will be more pictures later! It's about more desecration, but not necessarily the same as what I found over at Shedd in the summer of 2008.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Detail pics of Bennett School

These are details over the entrances. Frank I. Bennett Public School you will find over the two main doors. Of course the other signs are for the Assembly Hall and the Gynasium.

This the gargolyes that adorn the main entrances to Bennett School.

A close up of the shield near the entrance to the assembly hall. Below that picture is other shields on the side wall of the assembly. Click on the pic for a better resolution. I could've just taken a pic each of those shields on the side.

This last pic is a more recent sign. Over the years Bennett has seen its share of improvements of course looking at the names on this sign, the work was mostly done not long after a change of regime at the Chicago Public Schools.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Photos of Bennett School

I came by on two different days. One was still a school day and I didn't do as much only because there were either students being let out of Corliss on East 103rd Street or there were parents picking up students in front of Bennett. That day was cloudy, but I went back out on Veteran's and the sun was out and made for some nice pics.

Dates of note at Frank Ira Bennett School

The door to the extreme left is to the auditorium the other door to the right is the main entrance. That should take you close to the main office.

Here's the rest of the school! Below is a closeup of the main entrance.

This is the entrance to the schools gynasium.

The next two pictures are of the campus park and the plaque on Prairie Avenue. There used to be a concrete field and a field house here. In recent years however the concrete field and field house has given way to grass and a track. This campus park even has a bench.

Coming up next is some details. I cropped some pictures so that you can see how nice this school really is architecturally. The heraldry and gargolyles only remind me of what you may find at any of the Ivy League schools. You can find them at University of Chicago probably, but I though Harvard or Yale University.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Murals at Bennett

If only I can get a look at these murals that should've been restored by now!
Frank I. Bennett Elementary School
3 WPA Gustaf Dahlstrom murals, 4 WPA Grace Sponberg murals
Between 1999 - 2002 thanks to the Chicago Conservation Center!

Expect pictures to be posted from outside Bennett next week.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

More pics outside of Shedd Branch and Bennett School pics coming soon

Dates for other events at Shedd this month!

BTW, I got some pictures of Bennett School, Shedd's BIG sister school. I hope that I'll have some to present in the next few days.

Also, a teacher peer out of her window on the third floor to inquire why I was taking pictures. It was an awkward convo to say the least. I had to look up and we had to literally yell at each other to be heard. Unfortunately Bennett has no website address and I never was gave the lady a way to be able to see these future pictures.

She asked if I was going to develop them and I said that these pictures were digital I can send them via e-mail. Of course it was always possible that I may have been running afoul of some unknown rule, but for right now I have no way of knowing that.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Outside of Shedd School on August 17th, 2009

The first day of school is on Sept, 8, 2009. That is in about another week. In fact it's hard to believe Labor Day is coming up next Monday. For some reason I though tomorrow was Labor Day.

Is anyone looking forward to their 1st day of school next week? If so express your excitement here.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

1 in 4 grade schools going year-round

...the Chicago Board of Education voted Wednesday to put more than a quarter of public elementary schools on a year-round schedule.

That adds up to 132 of 483 elementary schools that have traded the traditional summer vacation to start classes a month earlier, with several two- to three-week breaks staggered throughout the year. The board approved requests from 67 schools to switch to the Track E calendar, adding to 65 schools already on that schedule.

"As Mayor Daley has said time and time again, we must use every tool at our disposal to better educate our students," Chicago Public Schools CEO Ron Huberman said at a news conference at Smyth Elementary in the South Loop, one of the schools that will make the switch.

"This strategy . . . would keep more than a quarter of all of our elementary schools open for most of the year. In other words, our students are on a continuous learning cycle," he said.
What's does this mean exactly?
Students at year-round schools spend 170 days in the classroom and end school in mid-June -- the same as their peers on a traditional schedule. But they get a shorter summer vacation, returning the first week of August rather than after Labor Day, and they have frequent short breaks during the year.
I'm undecided, but that might only be because I don't have children in the school system yet. I certainly wouldn't like this if I was a student, but unfortunately I wouldn't have had the right or the ability to speak out against it.

I'd say if this were only about keeping our children out of harm's way then we could just as easily find some extra-curriculars to do. Not all of our children want to be in a classroom all year, but we do have to develop some programs that will keep them engaged in the learning process in addition to keep them from loitering themselves into trouble.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

CPS offering financial literacy in curriculum

Passing algebra, geometry and calculus is one thing. Mastering the skills needed to pay bills, balance a checkbook, make car and mortgage payments is quite another.

Chicago's 113,166 public high school students may soon get a steady diet of both.

Schools CEO Ron Huberman disclosed Tuesday that "financial literacy" would be worked into the curriculum at Chicago's 116 public high schools in time for the start of school next fall.

Huberman made the announcement after joining City Treasurer Stephanie Neely to highlight the 45 minutes of financial education instruction being given this week to 71,000 students in 2,500 Chicago classrooms.
Before I left the 8th Grade we took a minimum skills proficiency test. If I recall correctly this test was to see if we could make change, read a map, or balance a checkbook. That's to name a few things I can recall.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Small-Talk: Mayor control vs. public engagement

Mike Klonsky believes that mayoral control of the public schools haven't been very successful and has lead to little accountablity. Read on!

Monday, April 6, 2009

Illinois schools: Controversial grant program cut

A just posted a more condensed version of this over at The 6th. Here's the full article from the Tribune:
It took a mammoth budget crisis and the arrest of Rod Blagojevich, but state leaders are shelving a dubious after-school grant program that a Tribune investigation found included many handouts that rewarded one lawmaker's political supporters.

The Illinois State Board of Education deleted $9.7 million for the controversial program from next year's budget proposal, and new Gov. Pat Quinn backed up that decision.

The decision comes after the Tribune reported last year that state Sen. Rickey Hendon (D-Chicago) helped at least 21 campaign workers and donors get the grants, some totaling $20,000.

Nearly half of the 48 grant recipients the Tribune investigated were found to be running dubious programs or declined to show how the money was spent.

In one case, a church sat darkened and padlocked during after-school hours even though it was presented as a tutoring center. In another, a woman used her grant for billboard ads to encourage teens to attend community college but pocketed nearly half the money.

All of the questionable projects shared the same sponsor: Hendon.

The veteran lawmaker recently said that not every organization he helped abused the grants. "Even though everybody might not get it right, that's no reason to kill a program that we have to have," he said.
It's not actually posted at The 6th yet, but it will be. Some how after school programs should find some money from somewhere.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Ninth graders allowed at Schneider Elementary next school year

Interesting. You know I wonder if Chicago would be better off instituting a program of junior high schools instead of just keeping 9th graders in elementary school. That almost seems unholy!

Chi-Town Daily News:
Despite protests and complaints about a lack of communication, the Chicago Board of Education yesterday approved allowing 9th graders to take up residence at Schneider Elementary School next school year.

Schneider, on the city's near northwest side, usually houses students up to 8th grade.

The 9th graders will be the freshman class of a new Alcott High School for the Humanities, which will open in the fall of 2009 and ultimately expand to include 10th, 11th and 12th graders at its own campus location. Currently, Alcott is an elementary school, about 2 1/2 miles from Schneider.

The 9th graders at the new high school will be at Schneider for at least one school year, after which the Board of Education will reevaluate the situation, says CPS spokesman Frank Shuftan.
Hey this wasn't what I thought it was about!

Still why not just house these students at another high school until they have a home ready for them.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Fewer Neighborhood Schools Exist in CPS

Throughout the city, many Chicago Public Schools are getting education makeovers. Failing or under-enrolled schools are being closed and new ones opened, sometimes even within the same building. The Chicago Board of Education is scheduled to vote tomorrow on where next fall’s new schools will open up. But the whole process leaves some parents and education activists questioning the correlation between urban planning and school planning.
Here's more:
Still, the district is closing Abbott for low enrollment. So Michael will now be sent to Hendricks Elementary, an underperforming school several blocks away.

Jim Dispensa is head of demographics and planning for Chicago Public Schools.

DISPENSA: The direction that we go in depends on a lot of things including where we are budgetarily and the outcomes of this continuing discussions with community groups. It’s premature to say where we are with transition plans.

But Andrea Lee doesn’t buy that argument. Lee is with the Grand Boulevard Federation, a neighborhood nonprofit. The group argues closing Abbott is short-sighted. That’s because Abbott’s enrollment would have gone up, Lee says, as soon as families started moving back into nearby Wentworth Gardens. The recently rehabbed development is only 63 percent occupied right now.

LEE: One of the most concerning things is that CPS isn’t doing any balanced facilities and community planning. Meaning as the public housing and they close schools that are under-enrolled or low performing they are giving their school facilities away.

Lee and others have been fighting to get the district to create a task force that would examine how families like Tanya Whitehead’s are impacted by the lack of coordination between school closings and urban development. There’s a bill currently in Springfield that would do just that.
Read the whole thing!

Via CapFax morning shorts and to be cross posted at The Sixth Ward!

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Behind the scenes at the Shedd Aquarium

This IL Channel segment was produced almost 4 years ago about the Shedd Aquarium. Other than Shedd School a namesake to John G. Shedd.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Higher education headlines

Tough times drive up community college enrollment - Southtown
Illinois Community College Board spokesman Steve Morse said that trend is in line with what he's been seeing.

"People coming out of high school are choosing community colleges because it's more affordable," he said. "Many will go for a year or two instead of going to college right away."

Final figures aren't available yet for this semester, but a national group representing community colleges says the average increase from spring to spring is dramatic and similar to enrollment bumps Southland schools are experiencing.
Word of advice don't let anyone encourage you from going to a community college, especially if your goal is to go to a four year school and get your bachelor's. There's nothing wrong with going to a community college. NONE!

More students a two-edged sword - Southtown
An influx of students means tighter quarters. Some community colleges around the state are opening up lab sections on weekends, while others have met their quota of students per section and simply don't have enough room or teachers to offer another class, Morse said.

"They have to say, 'You can't take that English class this semester,' " Morse said.

Complicating the issue is a dip in state funding, Morse said. Illinois' system of 39 community colleges has complained that state aid has not kept pace with rising enrollment, and in fact, has been dwindling.
Northwestern approaches $50,000 - Sun-Times
Facing a steep drop in its endowment, Northwestern University says its tuition, room and board will rise 3.6 percent this fall, -- to nearly $50,000.

But a Northwestern spokesman said the school has no plans for salary cuts or major layoffs and described the tuition increase as its smallest in 40 years. Scholarships will increase by 10 percent to $86 million.

Northwestern said its endowment has fallen to $5.6 billion, a 24 percent drop from its high of $7.4 billion last April. The school plans to cut operating expenses 3 percent and put off $90 million in construction projects.
Precisely why students who are looking towards college should never turn down any alternatives such as going to a lower-cost school or a community college. If $50K is considered a modest increase then I'm scared to know what full tuition would otherwise be.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

So what's the point of this place

Well for the most part I have fond memories of this place. The recesses and the friends I made and probably the education received.

I saw one day that the school wasn't listed on the CPS site although I checked later and I couldn't find any listings for any schools at all. In any case I wrote a post at the Sixth Ward blog earlier in February to make a mention since the blog is read by those in the know. Perhaps there was an oversight or perhaps there wasn't a need to list this school if it has a connection with a larger school.

Indeed if I went to say the Tribune website to look at schools for a particular neighborhood, I still couldn't find Shedd and I just know that in the past if I was looking in the papers I would see test scores for Shedd and Bennett as well.

Anyway, I can't keep talking about Shedd School for long so what I'd like to be able to do is talk about other educational issues as I come to them. Wouldn't mind talking about funding or at least how best to insure that our children will be educated. Especially if our students don't come from families who could afford to send their children to private school.

Let's see how things go.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

What about this Bennett School?

Since Shedd School is a branch of Bennett what about this school?

Here's some info on

To start that school has been around since 1927. See this picture the surrounding neighborhood had yet to be built around this place. So the next question: For whom is this school named?
Frank Ira Bennett was born on October 17, 1858 in Galva, Illinois and educated in the Chicago Public Schools. In 1884 he became a member of Bennett and Higgins, a law firm that specialized in real estate transactions. In 1892, members of the firm brought a case before the United States Supreme Court and Justice William C. Goudy decided in their favor. In addition to practicing law, Frank I. Bennett served as a Chicago Alderman, the Vice-Chairman of the Chicago Plan Commission, Assessor of the Town of Hyde Park (1888), director of public works for the State of Illinois, a member of the Chicago City Council (1907-1909) and a member of the Chicago Board of Education (1909-1912)

Mr. Bennett and his wife Anna had two sons, Ira F. Bennett and Lewis C. Bennett. Frank I. Bennett died in his home on Chicago’s South Side on December 20, 1925. He is buried in Oak Woods Cemetery.
There's even a nice campus park that was built at the site of the school. You can check it out over at the Public Building Commission of Chicago.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Who is this John G. Shedd anyway?

John Graves Shedd (July 20, 1850 - October 22, 1926) was the second president and chairman of the board of Marshall Field & Company.

Born on a New Hampshire farm, Shedd arrived in Chicago, Illinois in 1871 and began working as a stock clerk for Marshall Field. By 1901, he had worked his way up to a vice-presidency and took over as president upon Field's death in 1906. Field himself described Shedd as "the greatest merchant in the United States," and, indeed, under Shedd's presidency Marshall Field & Company became the largest store in Chicago and the largest wholesale and dry goods company in the world.

Shedd was a civic leader and founding member of the Commercial Club of Chicago who played an active role in the city's turn-of-the-century efforts to become a world class metropolis. One of Chicago's major philanthropists, he contributed extensively to Chicago charities, universities and museums, and in the early 1920s he provided $3 million to build Chicago's Shedd Aquarium, as a complement to The Field Museum (founded in 1892 as a part of the World's Columbian Exposition and renamed in honor of Marshall Field in 1905) and The Art Institute of Chicago (whose current building was also a product of the 1892 World's Columbian Exposition). Completed in 1930, the Shedd Aquarium remained the world's largest aquarium for most of the century.
He has two namesakes, Shedd Aquarium and John G. Shedd Institute for the Arts.

I vividly remember when students at Shedd School took a field trip the the Aquarium. I believe the whole school went and incidentally one year it was the only field trip my class took that year.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Building a sustainable and enhanced community

Originally posted at The Sixth Ward on May 16, 2008 this is a description of the neighborhood surrounding Shedd Elementary and Harlan High School is only around the corner on Michigan.

From the March 2008 issue of the Roseland Heights Community Association newsletter. I really like how this piece has some history written into it:
For years we were here, growing, taking pride in our neat, safe homes, building a community based on common values, traditions and dreams for our children. We were here before Harlan High or Shedd Elementary schools were built, bot schools of quality and harmony. The Dan Ryan was built: we saw a terminal erected; Chicago State came and took root. We were striving, hopeful, growing, looking forward to, we thought, a stronger more viable community. But circumstances of time and changes in urban living and the state of the economy have brought about some harsh realities.

We face the changes of foreclosures, neglected homes, and a denser population of people has arrived. While passing through some are looking for opportunities to commit crime, litter, peddle, loiter, or exhibit inappropriate and unacceptable behavior-some of these activities are evident within our community as well. We find our community faced with a few families at a loss, lacking in social skills, uninterested and disrespectful to our way of life predicated on a higher standard. Some of our youth are restless, without positive direction, spirit and uninterested in pursuing an education. Our children are in harms way, victims of gang intimidations and violence.

Thought discouraging to acknowlege, what goes on in our community affects everyone, because anywhere and at anytime "we" or a neighbor can become a victim. Yet, all is not lost or hopeless, We need not become another black community lost. We have the opportunity to work for change, to holdfast to the belief that there are some things we can do, beginning with standing up for our community. There is no one else. It is our responsiblity.

As a community we should come together with purpose and spirit, mindful that we have integrity borne of history and tradition. You have made an investment here. Why allow your property value to decline or accept a lesser quality of life? Together we can make this community what it has always been and was meant to be with a legacy we must pass on. Know that where there is will, there is grace. RHCA represents all that the community stands for: community values, concerns, and making things better for all of us since 1957. You can contribute to the effort by attending our next meeting, joining your community association bringing your check or money order payable to RHCA.

Gloria Offord, President
A good call to action don't you think. Apparently she took over for the previous association president who retired apparently during the middle of his term. I suppose this is Ms. Offord's inaugural address of sort. According to the newsletter she was just elected in February.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

More pics around Shedd School

Originally posted on May 20, 2008 at The Sixth Ward.

The first two pics you've already see on this blog. The flag pole for the first post on this blog and the front of the school with the name of the school you see as the header image.

A flag pole and a sign out in the front of Shedd School on 99th Street.

I wish the trees weren't in the way here otherwise I would get a nice shot of the signage on the school. This should be the auditorium/gym.

Apparently this should correspond to a room number at the school. Shedd is a very small school housing students only from Kindergarent to 6th grade. This might be where students will line up before they go to classes for the day.
The backdoors of the school.
Once upon a time the Shedd lot was home to basketball hoops but obviously they're long gone now!Looking towards Prairie Avenue. Shedd takes up most of a city block and is largely surrounded by single family homes on all sides.

Friday, February 20, 2009

In the backlot at Shedd Elementary School

Originally posted on May 16, 2008 at The Sixth Ward.

I was at John G. Shedd Elementary on Tuesday to check out this school. It only houses or at least in the past it did Kindergarten thru 6th grade. It is considered a branch of Frank I. Bennett Elementary where Shedd students go for 7th and 8th grade is located across the Calumet Expressway on 101st and Prairie. Needless to say it's a very small school with a large lot.

You know the lot at Shedd has a baseball cage. You would only see this in most Chicago parks and there would be a circle of dirt. If it's used at all the students would play kickball during gym class.

Now these pictures of bottles were found in the grassy part of the lot closer to the school itself or at least the backdoor of the school. I almost consider this desecration of sacred ground. Isn't there somewhere else a person could either have a drink or dispose of this bottle? I could just act like some young child could hurt himself playing with this bottle treating it as a toy. Very sad!

BTW, I will provide more pictures of Shedd as I either take them or as I might find in my own personal collection.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Shedd School omitted from official school listings

Originally posted at The Sixth Ward.

I've been perusing both the CPS website and the CPS alumni websites and I discover that John G. Shedd Elementary doesn't have a listing. I understand that Shedd, located at 200 E. 99th St, is only a branch of Bennet Elementary located 10115 South Prairie Avenue. Does that school not have a distinct history or identity different from it's much larger counterpart just down the street.

If anyone from CPS is reading this, I think to leave off Shedd only because it is a branch of much larger school is a huge oversight that should be corrected.