September 23, 2012
Providing havens during the strike
Courtez Holmon, Bri'Auna Walker and Rie'Onna Holmon, Chicago Public School students play a card game at "The Ark of Sabina," a community youth center located on the campus of St. Sabina Church in Chicago on Sept.12. The youth center was open from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. to accomodate those students who were off school from the Chicago Teachers' strike. More than 400,000 students are affected by the strike.Karen Callaway / Catholic New World
Morris Middleton, who attends Simeon Career Academy, a high school in Chicago, dribbles around Trevon Bosley in the gym on Sept. 12. Chicago Public School students spent the day at "The Ark of Sabina," a community youth center located on the campus of St. Sabina Church in Chicago. The youth center was open from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. to accomodate those students who were off school from the Chicago Teachers' strike. More than 400,000 students are affected by the strike. Karen Callaway / Catholic New World
Trevon Bosley goes up for a layup over Anthony Lovelace, Asante Hamilton and Raheem Tyler, CPS students, during a quick pick-up game while the next class of Catholic School kids heads for gym class on Sept 12. Karen Callaway / Catholic New World
Morris Middleton, who attends Simeon Career Academy, a public high school in Chicago, Canaan Strod, Trevon Bosley and Jimmy Smith, also CPS students share a laugh while shooting hoops on Sept. 12. Karen Callaway / Catholic New World
Catholic schools in the city of Chicago remained in session the week of Sept. 10 as more than 350,000 Chicago Public School students found themselves at loose ends when the Chicago Teachers Union went on strike.
Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Chicago provided meals to some of the students who attended supervised child care organized in public schools, churches, parks and other facilities.
The agency, which also provides summer meals as part of the federal school lunch program, was ready to provide up to 6,000 breakfasts and lunches each day. However, attendance at the “Children First” and “Safe Haven” programs was sparse, as most parents seemed to be keeping their children home.
Many parishes that normally offer youth programming continued to do so. The after-school program at Holy Cross/Immaculate Heart of Mary Parish in the Back of the Yards neighborhood continued to open at 3 p.m. each day, providing activities for at least part of the day; and the Ark, the youth center at St. Sabina Parish, opened its doors earlier than usual each day, as did programs at St. Agatha and St. Aloysius parishes.
On Sept. 13, about 16 students took advantage of the facility, playing basketball or volleyball and board games when they would have otherwise been in school, said program coordinator Courtney Holmon.
Most days, there were about 13 young people there during what would be the normal school day, with between 75 and 90 students coming later.
The Ark’s regular after-school programming still took place from 3 to 7 p.m., with everything from tutoring to karate and dance classes offered in addition to sports.
While some public school parents interviewed by local media speculated about the possibility of enrolling their children in Catholic schools, especially if the strike dragged on, the Archdiocese of Chicago’s Office of Catholic Schools did not report any spikes in enrollment.
The office pointed out that Catholic schools would not want to admit students and commit to providing resources for them if their parents were planning on taking them back to public schools once the strike ended.
Sister M. Paul McCaughey, the Catholic school superintendent, told Crain’s Chicago Business that Catholic schools wanted neither to take advantage of the strike nor to be taken advantage of.
Catholic schools in the city have seen slight gains in enrollment in the past three years.