Hyde Park’s Kenwood High School’s Institutional Advantages and Drawbacks

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In every institute of learning, quality education begins with the staff, a safe location, effective student-teacher communication, and a history of educational achievements.

These are the qualities parents, and students are looking for when they are pursuing an education leading to a career in language, arts, math, or medicine.

Kenwood Academy High School is number one in its district. For other high schools to reach that level of achievement, they have to have enough commitment and capability in order to provide safe and equal access to all students.

Kenwood has shown a previous commitment to developing itself for the good of their students continually. Administrators and staff set requirements that are beyond the CPS board’s standards, such as:

  • Raising the bar for many students offering participation in programs to learn from providing community service,
  • Pushing them to look outside of their comfort zones,
  • Encouraging students to attend several extracurricular activities including participation in Advanced Placement, STEM, and Project Lead the Way (PLTW).

The school has also focused on making sure it was a place where students would “enjoy coming to school,” as the longtime principal, Dr. Jones says. In 2011, their focus was to implement enjoyable opportunities such as a full orchestra, a sculpture program, and a jazz band. Additionally basketball, track, swimming, tennis, and volleyball teams were added to the curriculum.

Another program for students who need help or advice is Kenwood’s Counseling and Support Services Department. Administrators, staff, parents, clinicians, and counselors work together toward a solution for each student seeking assistance. The department’s programs include social and emotional support, student opportunities, and special education needs.

Students and Teachers Are Held Accountable for Their Actions

The school also uses several measures to make students liable and accountable for indiscretions and poor behavior. By providing each student at the school with a “Chicago Public School Student Code of Conduct Booklet,” Kenwood informs students of their responsibilities.

They sign an agreement which indicates that any misconduct will be dealt with quickly and swiftly. The students understand the consequences of breaking the contract and they must comply with any fair punishment the school enforces, ranging from their loss of off-campus lunch privileges to permanent expulsion from school.

This policy is popular with administration, staff, and parents who find it appropriate that students are held accountable for their actions.

For instance, the code of conduct about bullying states:

No student who witnesses bullying may stand by or participate in the bullying, but must instead notify an adult at school and an adult at home as quickly as is practical.

In cases of reported bullying, the principal must lead a full investigation immediately to identify the perpetrator(s), target(s), and bystander(s). The action of which will inevitably lead to:

assessing the individual and school-wide effects of the incident relating to safety, and assigning school staff to create and implement a safety plan that will restore a sense of safety for the target and other students who have been impacted.

Additionally, teachers and staff are held accountable for any improper actions or misconduct. To prevent any misconduct towards students and faculty, Kenwood Academy conducts thorough background checks for all hired teaching and security staff.

In several instances, students lives might have been in danger when teachers, hired by CPS, do not reach the requirements to be a capable supervisor for children.


Kenwood’s Funding Focuses on Student Success but Fail to Maintain School Buildings

Most of Kenwood Academy’s funding goes into courses and opportunities that enable students to have a future that includes attending college debt free on a full paid scholarship. Many parents looking for these types of opportunities have reported disorganization of the school staying on top of available courses.

As opposed to advanced courses, the schools funding has only taken it so far regarding its ventilation and air conditioning systems. Rooms in the building continue to experience severe cooling problems with classrooms reaching up to 100 degrees in some parts of the building. Due to the school’s ventilation system, installed in 1969, most students in the building would be considered lucky if their teacher buys a fan.

In buildings with 122,782 students and closed rooms, the effects of the heat were so egregious that students took the initiative to meet with the CPS Board of Education to urge them to provide funding, which would be applied to reversing the school’s deteriorating conditions.

The meeting took place June 28, 2017. During the event, several juniors demanded the “thorough cleaning of all vents and ducts at Kenwood before school starts in the fall. [They also requested] fully staffed engineering and custodial departments, a full asbestos abatement, and complete replacement of the heating, ventilation, and air conditioning system [HVAC].”

In March, Kenwood Academy failed a health inspection due to the abundance of roaches and mice droppings found in the school. The community complained about CPS’s failure to provide the school with the required custodial staff which was the probable cause of the failed health inspections.

Pest control was not the very least of the school’s troubles; there were several broken air pipes, water leakages, and even deteriorating paint found inside the building.

Along with the physical aspects of the building, CPS has been criticized by parents because of repeated and obvious child-protection mistakes. “The Chicago Tribune” published a revealing story on June 1, 2018, stating the district failed to protect its students from rape and sexual assault.

Parents are unhappy that the district does not seem concerned about issues of abuse or sexual assault with its students or teachers. A few attacks have taken place, and students were ignored after reporting abuse. Some students claimed that teachers were not invested in their mental health and seemed to “ignore any possibility that the student’s life outside the school was their problem.”

Kenwood Senior Class President, Ciara Evans “couldn’t be happier” with the results after a meeting with district officials. In the end, CPS agreed to provide the requested upgrades to the school’s facilities.

Evans felt that the student’s voices were heard and it seemed they delivered their points. The class president and the students will continue to “keep their hopes high” as they wait for the changes to be made.

Located on the South side of Chicago, the Kenwood Academy High School is within walking distance to several shopping districts that are available to students after school. As far as safety is concerned, parents and teachers agree Hyde Park is safe.

Written by Brielle R. Buford
Edited by Cathy Milne


The Real News Network: Explosive Report Shows Unchecked Sexual Assaults in Chicago Public Schools
HYDE PARK HERALD: CPS to clean up Kenwood High School
Chicago Sun-Times: The Grid: Exploring the Hyde Park neighborhood
US News and World Report: US Best High Schools; Kenwood Academy High School
Kenwood Academy High School: Website

Featured Image Courtesy of Quinn Dombrowski’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License
Top Image Courtesy of Marc Monaghan’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License
Inset Image Courtesy of Daniel X. O’Neil’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License


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