Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Roseland Heights meeting Harlan Community Academy

Remember last year I posted about a zoning letter sent to area residents. Well, Harlan is located in Abbott Park and that issue hampered many improvements at the school. Who'd have thought it? To install an elevator at Harlan requires a permit and it wasn't so easy if the city doesn't recognize that there was a high school right on Chicago Park District land! Although I'm year or so late the zoning did go through and there are a lot of improvements at Harlan.

The Alderman mentioned the new labs for the engineering program, but also the infrastructural improvements such as installing some rocks under Harlan's foundation due to water damage in the school's courtyards  to prevent the school from falling into the ground. She mentioned the windows fixed around the school.

The association also is interested in hold some community meetings at Harlan, but it was noted that the administration there didn't seem very receptive. One resident the treasurer at Roseland Heights said that she attempted to run for LSC, but had her paperwork was lost and she wasn't able to participate in the election. Ald. Lyle stressed that she believes Principal Reginald Evans knows that when school is out for the evening on for the weekend the community will have their eyes on the school. Also that it's best for Harlan to have a relationship with the outside community where the school resides.

Well there was a discussion about the proposed Red Line extension at least in relation to Harlan students who take public transit to and from school. The Alderman mentioned that students from several south side high schools end or begin their trip to their respective schools at 95th. She named a few such as Julian, Corliss, Harlan, and Bowen although that school is closer to 87th than 95th and it's located all the way in the South Chicago neighborhood.

She mentioned that at a gas station near the 95th terminal students were barred from shopping there during certain hours. Also drop-outs were known to jump students coming to and from school and that they either hung out at the gas station or at the McDonald's west of the terminal on 95th.

Let's make a special note of this. If there was trouble anywhere near 95th, the Alderman said that students from Harlan would get the blame for it. There are other students from other area schools who use 95th street during the school year. Even if a Harlan student wasn't directly involved the incident would be attributed to Harlan. She specifically mentioned a drive-by shooting near Harlan over a year ago.

Also, a Harlan student was in attendance at the meeting. Ald. Lyle's nephew who is also on the LSC as a student representative as well as a member of the school's student council. He said he was working on ways for at least Harlan students to work with the outside community particularly for those students seeking community service credits. Especially since there is a feeling that the school's administration doesn't seem that interested. Some elderly women at the meeting seemed eager to put the young man to work.

I have to note Shedd School wasn't mentioned so perhaps there are no problems there. That or Harlan may pose more issues for neighborhood residents than Shedd might.


  1. A couple of things to note/clarify:

    When meetings are held at a CPS school after hours, keep in mind that in a lot of cases, depending upon the school's budget-- that overtime pay must be paid to staffers such as custodians, safety/security, etc., who have to be on hand when these meetings are held. As you know, school budgets have been drastically cut all over the city as well as staff being reduced.

    A lot of times, and I'm not saying that this was the case for this meeting-- people tend to make the request at the very last moment, and this defeats the purpose. The Principal of a school has discretion in whether or not to allow events/public meetings at their school for these reasons. It also helps forge a POSITIVE relationship with the school and principal on a regular basis, as well as that of the Alderman.

    Secondly, anyone applying to become a member of a LSC, must turn in their application to the LSC offices located at the CPS Central Office downtown. If this person who states that their application was lost did in fact do this (turned her application in to the downtown CPS offices)-- she needs to complain to the powers that be downtown, not Harlan.

    Lastly, all CPS High Schools have Service Learning coaches (or they're supposed to). I'm trying to understand why you stated that the Administration at Harlan is not "interested" in assisting their students in fufilling this requirement??

    In order to obtain Service Learning Credit, a student cannot just volunteer for anything (cutting grass, shoveling snow, etc.,) as the "Service" has to be tied "educationally". Some Restricted Service Activities, which students may NOT earn service learning credit are:

    * Working/volunteering with for-profit businesses and corporations
    * Working/volunteering with religious organizations if the service involves promoting a particular faith
    * Volunteer work where no academic objective is addressed
    * Work that is financially reimbursed
    * Volunteer work with a political campaign without the mediation of an approved community organization or classroom instructor
    * Participation in a sports team or other extra-curricular activity unless that group designs a service-learning project that contains the components listed above
    * Assisting a teacher (i.e. correcting papers, cleaning the classroom)
    * Artistic performances unless students are involved in creating a project that includes a performance as an outcome of the project
    * Attending a training or other educational event unless that training leads directly to a service project

    Harlan is trying very hard in spite of all the mess going on in/around the neighborhood, and CPS Central office to make a difference. Let's try to be fair and work with them to give them a chance.

  2. Anon 12:09,

    Thanks for commenting. Do you work at Harlan? Feel free to drop by and comment on any post we have or will make about Harlan in the future. Especially if there are some things I am off base on. Hopefully in the future Roseland Heights will be able to hold a neighborhood meeting at the school.

  3. Anonymous makes very good and valid points, especially about the Service Learning component.

    An example of a good Service Learning Project for Harlan High School students would be:

    1. Working with Chicago State and the Aquaponics Initiative;

    Maybe that's something that can be set up, if not already happening...

    Off subject-- In regards to the Aquaphonics project-- Some years ago, when my daughter and I visited Disney World in Orlando, we toured their aquaponics facility and later ate at a restaurant where the produce, etc., "farmed" there was served... She later did a Science Project on it-- That's how much it made an impression on her, and me as well, and it certainly can be beneficial to Harlan students as well.

    What a great initiative. I hope to be able to stop by and observe the process at Chicago State in the near future.

  4. I'm glad to see some positive information come out about Harlan. I've been in a discussion about education in the 6th ward on another site where a community organization put out a report that said Harlan is not a school that supports the 6th Ward.

    As far as Michael, irrespected of his relationship to the Alderman, this is a very smart young man that we will hear a lot more about going forward.

    Also, to Ms. Branch and anom if there is a program or iniative you feel Chicago State should/could help. Please contact us and the Alderman office as w are in constant contact with representatives of the University. I applaud Dr. Watson on changing the attitude at the University and making it more welcoming.

  5. Oh yeah CSU. They were mentioned last night, they want to reach out to the community as well. A good sign, for sure!

  6. And this past school year, a Senior at Harlan won the prestigious Gates Millennium Scholarship out of over 20,000 nationwide applicants. She was one of only 1,000 selected.

    There were a total of 22 students from the Chicago Public Schools chosen. There were a total of 29 from Illinois.

    Something right is happening over there...

  7. You know this gives me an idea. Well based on the meeting. A community service credit idea of course.


PLEASE READ FIRST!!!! Comment Moderating and Anonymous Comment Policy

While anonymous comments are not prohibited we do encourage you to help readers identify you so that other commenters may respond to you. Either read the moderating policy for how or leave an identifier (which could be a nickname for example) at the end of the comment.

Also note that this blog is NOT associated with any public or political officials including Alderman Roderick T. Sawyer!