On a blazing hot day in August, hundreds of students, parents, teachers, and community members gathered in Hyde Park for the first annual University of Chicago Charter School Back-to-School Barbeque. Celebrating a renewed charge of “one school, four campuses,” this year’s event brought together grades prekindergarten through 12 from the four campuses, combining traditionally separate celebrations to strengthen the UChicago Charter School pathway from birth to college.
As families and children from all campuses mingled on the picnic grounds, Urban Education Institute staff and student volunteers painted faces, charter school administrators refereed water balloon tosses, and each of the four campus directors addressed the gathered community.
“When we talk about ‘It takes a village,’ look around. Here is the village right in front of you,” said Jarred Brown, director of program development at the Carter G. Woodson Campus. Elizabeth Meyers, director of the Donoghue Campus, roused the crowd to applause, exclaiming, “We look to you to help us go from good to great! Last year we raised test scores, this year going to blow the roof off of them!”
Exceptional alumni also spoke at event, including Shani Edmonds, a UChicago Charter School student from the first grade to the twelfth.
- Read past story about Shani: "Shani Edmonds Proves the Power of Crossroad Support"
“Starting off at first grade when the charter school first opened was a big decision—one that my mom made for me, of course! I didn’t want to go at first, but I would have been a fool to leave…I can safely say, I wouldn’t be here right now if it wasn’t for this school," she said. Edmonds, a member of the first graduating class of the UChicago Charter School Woodlawn Campus, is currently a rising junior at Oberlin College with a full-tuition scholarship from the Posse Foundation.
To conclude the barbeque, each campus placed a box of creative student work into a collective UChicago Charter School time capsule, an artistic collaboration with Red Moon. The capsule will be opened in June 2013 at the school-wide eighth grade graduation ceremony, to celebrate how far students, teachers, and parents have come since the first day back to school in 2012 and the many first days before.
“We’re here today…to celebrate our four campuses, 1700 young people, and to celebrate our one mission: 100% acceptance to, but more importantly, graduation from college,” said Shayne Evans, director of the UChicago Charter School. With the barbeque and school community vibrantly alive around him, he said, smiling, “It’s been a fantastic day.”
Watch the UChicago Charter School Back-to-School BBQ Video.
View the UChicago Charter School Back-to-School BBQ Photo Slideshow.