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HSObsessed
11-17-2012, 09:00 PM
Eighth-grade daughter and I went to the ChiArts open house today. It’s a little different from the others we’ve been to in that you have to register ahead of time for a spot. The entire “tour” is two hours long and highly organized, with numerous sessions of about 20-25 minutes each. The first session was an overview of the school in the auditorium, then the kids are split into smaller groups according to their areas of interest (theater, dance or visual arts) and hear from students, parents of current students, and faculty members. The theater kids also participated in a session of improv games led by a senior in the theater program.

We actually didn’t see too much of the facility, but it’s a school building from the 1960s at 35th and MLK Drive that they’ve used for the four years they’ve been open so far and will use another 2.5 years, until they move into the current Malcolm X College building near Rush/United Center.

The students have a general college prep curriculum with four years of language arts, math, science, social science and foreign language. They have all classes on Mondays and then block style on Tues/Thurs and Wed/Fri. The day goes from 8 am to 5 pm with academic classes from 8 to noon, then lunch/study hall or advisory until 2:00 pm and then the conservatory classes from 2 to 5. If they are participating in an actual production, then they’re often there until 7:00 pm or later. There are AP classes. The teachers seemed very smart and professional.

In order to get an invitation to audition, you have to prove that you have at least a stanine 5 for 7th grade ISATs and that you didn’t have 10 or more unexcused absences. After that minimum criteria is met, then they just go by highest scores on the audition rubric, and high academic achievement in elementary school is not considered. The average ACT score of their current seniors (taken last year) was 19. The current kids seemed to all love their experience, and -- no surprise from theater kids -- were very articulate and extroverted. The three mothers who answered questions said that if your child is serious about going on to study arts in college, that ChiArts school is already on the radar screen of all the big arts colleges/conservatories nationwide, and they very much want to attract ChiArts graduates. Everyone takes great pride in the school.

So overall, both my kid and I feel like the school is a real gem in our system, and anyone who has the opportunity to go is very lucky, especially if they live in the general area, including South Loop or Hyde Park. However, a commute of 75-90 minutes each way from the north side on top of a nine-hour school day would be exhausting for a teen who likes some down time and is not an early riser.

Post if you have any questions, and I'll answer if I can.

Family Friend
11-19-2012, 11:10 AM
Thanks. This is really a good school. I know they are working to hire great teachers for all subjects, and their kids are motivated.

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