On Saturday, Mayor Emanuel, Alderman Marty Quinn, Representative Michael Madigan, and Chicago Public Schools CEO Janice Jackson joined the Hancock College Prep community to break ground for the new Hancock College Prep building on 64th and Long, a few blocks east of Central Avenue on the city's Southwest side.
Hancock Principal Devon Herrick was the first to speak at the event and said, "This celebration today is the result of a process, a process that started with an idea, an idea that grew and developed with the support of the people here today. The idea, the vision itself is simple--it’s that our students deserve the resources and opportunities necessary for them to reach their full potential as scholars and people."
The new building will be able to host 1,080 students in a three-floor building with a gymnasium that can actually accommodate our entire school community, a black-box theater to help our arts programs flourish, an outdoor area that does not get flooded like the green space behind our school now, and enough classrooms that--unlike the many classrooms in our current building--are fully equipped and spacious enough for students to learn more and thrive more. The school will continue its Selective Enrollment, Pre-Law, and Pre-Engineering programs. Ninety percent of the students at Hancock live in the surrounding communities.
Honestly, I'm looking forward to a building that does not have water leaks, plumbing problems, bubbling floor tiles, and a heating and cooling system that actually works--the simple things.
Mayor Emanuel said that he ends his tenure as mayor where he began--in the the 13th ward--where years ago he announced the longer school day. He mentioned how the recent GoCPS data showing the large number of students wanting to attend Hancock "took the leather off the ball." In fact, about 4,000 students applied for about 200 seats in our freshman class.
"This is the last thing I do for education," said Mayor Emanuel whose run as mayor ends soon after he decided not to run for re-election.
CPS CEO Dr. Janice Jackson said, "We will make sure that this school is everything you want it to be. I know your voices have been clear around what you want this school to be, and you've been very collaborative in helping us figure those things out. I also want to acknowledge the students of Hancock whether it was coming to Board meetings, writing articles in their school newspaper, or just . . . tweeting at me in a respectful way what they felt that they deserved." She went on to say, "You were right. You deserve every single thing that's happening. I am committed to making sure you get the school and facilities that you deserve."
The project is being overseen by the Public Building Commission who awarded the project to the architectural firm of Urban Works. The building is set to open the fall of 2021.
A steering committee including the alderman, the Hancock principal and assistant principals, four teachers--three of whom live in the ward and two enrolled their children at Hancock--two other parents, and two students played an essential role in developing the plans for the new building. But, as Principal Devon Herrick said Saturday, "Where this project truly lives is in the collective heart of our school community, a heart that beats boldly and courageously for change and for what's best for our students."
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