To paraphrase the novelist Paul Theroux, "We can't make our kids' school days or years longer, but we can strive to make them better." Thankfully, our boys' Chicago elementary school community at Our Lady of Mount Carmel Academy models love and kindness. Data demonstrates how Our Lady of Mount Carmel Academy, OLMCA, is one of the best Chicago elementary schools. The school is located in Lakeview, relatively near downtown and a short walk from the City Transit Authority train and many buses. Children may attend OLMCA before traditional preschool in their early education program through eighth grade. Each year, OLMCA eighth graders graduate and attend the city's best high schools, including public selective enrollment programs, Catholic and other private schools. The school content, information it shares and activities they facilitate, help children and parents learn and grow.
OLMCA has been honored as a National Blue Ribbon School of excellence by the United States Department of Education. Our principal, Shane Staszcuk, shared, "Since the award's creation in 1982, only three other Chicago elementary schools, private OR public, have ever been honored with this national distinction twice. In order to apply in the Exemplary High-Performing Schools category (recognizing model schools to be emulated nationwide) a school must have standardized test scores placing it in the highest 15% of schools in the nation. OLMCA's test scores exceed that requirement, likely placing OLMCA in the top 5%-10% of schools, if not higher."
OLMCA outperforms the 20 nearby schools within a two mile radius. The school scored above the "Meets and Exceeds" mark on the ASPIRE test. Their students' scores outpace the national average, Archdiocesan average, or other nearby Catholic schools. The Academy scores are higher in all 24 points of comparison, six grade levels, and four subjects.
The smart, kind, fun and inclusive OLMCA community encourages children to take risks, do their best, and exceed their goals. A few weeks ago, our oldest informed us that he planned to run for Student Council. His third-grade teacher inspired her students to articulate their vision in their speeches and fight their hardest.
Our boy prepared and we felt optimistic he might win. Our boy did not win, but impressed us with his resilience. That night he prayed and gave thanks for a "such a good race, but [he] hopes to do even better next time."
My husband and I were grateful for real time updates from the teacher with election results and more. Some friends, whose kids attend Chicago public schools, lament the lack of school communication. The OLMCA principal, marketing director, teachers, room parents, and Parent Teacher Organization President keep parents abreast of what we need to know despite tough schedules.
Part of the glue that connects our family and many others at the school is the school choir. Their choir director empowers the children to be the best version of themselves with traditional and firm discipline. The school's music program sets clear and high expectations while children still have fun.
Children in the OLMCA treble choir, fourth grade and above, will have the opportunity to sing in 2020 in Rome at the Vatican. Our family, and many others, look forward to this unique opportunity.
Meanwhile, our boys participate in additional enrichment activities at the school. Our boys have explored cooking, art, robotics, chess, STEM Club, basketball, soccer and piano.
We look forward to annual events throughout the year such as the 'Trunk or Treat' Halloween Parade, Multicultural Night, Trivia Night, Santa, Easter Egg Hunt, the Fun Run and more.
While our family is thrilled with our elementary school, Our Lady of Mount Carmel Academy, we hope younger and new families will continue to consider OLMCA as an option for their family. The first Open House for potential new families is Thursday October 3, 8:30 a.m. - 10:30 a.m. at the school campus, 720 West Belmont Avenue; others are updated on their website.
OLMCA helps make our boys better. Although our family is Catholic, some of our OLMCA family friends are from all different faith backgrounds. Fun fact, Ruth Bader Ginsburg's granddaughter graduated from Our Lady of Mount Carmel Academy recently. XO