5015 S. Blackstone Avenue
|Motto||"Our mission is COLLEGE!"|
|School district||Chicago Public Schools|
|Principal||Karen A. Calloway|
|Athletics conference||Chicago Public League|
|Accreditation||North Central Association of Colleges and Schools|
Kenwood Academy (also known as Kenwood Academy High School and formerly known as Kenwood High School) is a comprehensive public high school and magnet middle school located in the Hyde Park–Kenwood neighborhood on the south side of Chicago, Illinois, United States. Operated by the Chicago Public Schools (CPS) district, Kenwood opened in 1969. Kenwood limits acceptance of high school students to those living in Hyde Park: from Lake Michigan to Cottage Grove Avenue east to west, and 47th to the Midway Plaisance north to south. Kenwood was recognized as a School of Distinction for its academic achievement and a Model School by the International Center for Leadership in Education in 2004. In addition to being a local high school, Kenwood has a magnet program that accepts students entering into 7th grade who pass a rigorous admissions test. The magnet program accepts students citywide using a random lottery with a standing of 6 or higher in both reading and math.
The Chicago Public Schools (CPS) began the planning process to build Kenwood Academy, then called Kenwood High School, on November 3, 1965. With Northern big cities undergoing the final years of the baby boom, the CPS felt the need for a modernized new high school on Chicago's South Side. During the time of planning for the new school, CPS operated Kenwood Upper Grade Center; a neighborhood elementary school that was later converted into a high school to relieve overcrowding at nearby high schools in 1962. At the time, the school served 900 students in a building meant for only 500.
The question of whether to build Kenwood High School was the center of intense interest and tension for community members in Hyde Park, Kenwood, and Woodlawn who were concerned about the impact a new school would have on the racial composition of the surrounding neighborhoods and schools. Before the construction of Kenwood High School all students from these communities attended Hyde Park High School in Woodlawn. Community activists from Woodlawn argued that building a new high school in Hyde Park/Kenwood would drain all of the white students from Hyde Park High School, effectively segregating the school. These activists argued for an expansion of Hyde Park High School to alleviate overcrowding rather than the construction of a separate school. However, on November 17, 1966 the Chicago Board of Education approved the proposal to build Kenwood High School, on a site bordered by 51st Street to the south, Lake Park Avenue to the east, Blackstone Avenue to the west; near the Illinois Central Railroad.
Construction on the school began in March 1968. At $7.4 million, it was considered Chicago's most expensive high school at the time. The new school, situated at 5015 South Blackstone Avenue, opened in September 1969 with an enrollment of 700. The school's demographics during the first ten years was made up of 79% African-American and 21% White. The white population at the school continue to decline over the years, bringing the current demographics to 84% African-American, 5% white, 4% Hispanic, 3% Asian, and 4% multi-racial or other. Elizabeth Mollahan–Jochner, who had been the principal of Kenwood Upper Grade Center, served as the new Kenwood's principal, holding the position for eighteen years from the school's opening until her retirement in June 1987. In recognition of the school's academic excellence and special programs, the Chicago Board of Education and CPS designated the school an "academy" and " a school of distinction" in 1977.
As of the 2019–2020 school year, 85.8% of Kenwood's student body is African-American, 4.5% White, 4.8% Hispanic, 2.3% Asian, and 2.5% Other. Low-income students make up 57.5% of Kenwood's student body. Kenwood has a 93% graduation rate.
The Academic Center Program started as a way to introduce a select few 7th and 8th grade students to the high school environment before actually entering high school. Students in this program are referred to as "preppies," as they are preparing for high school by taking high school courses before they graduate from the 8th grade. Students are offered the choice of staying at Kenwood Academy or attending any other high school with their credits and GPA. Students that choose to stay at Kenwood are granted the right, in their senior year, to take tuition-free courses at the University of Chicago. The academic center is now housed in the former Canter Middle School (formerly Louis Wirth Elementary School) building, which closed after the 2013–14 school year.
Kenwood Academy students enrolled in Advanced Placement courses can access student resources on the University of Chicago's Hyde Park campus. University of Chicago students and professors have traditionally worked closely with Kenwood students in classes and on special projects. A recent example of a Kenwood Academy/University of Chicago relationship is evidenced in the Program of Academic Excellence for High School Juniors at Kenwood Academy (The Kenwood Project). This program pairs Kenwood Academy Juniors with professors at the University of Chicago, as mentors.
The Kenwood Academy Concert Choir has performed locally and nationally at churches, colleges and universities, and vocal competitions nationwide. Oscar winner Denzel Washington and Grammy award winners The Winans have shared billings (at their own requests) with the Kenwood Academy Concert Choir. The Kenwood Concert Choir has performed for President Barack Obama. The Kenwood Academy Bands include the Jazz Emsemble (known as "Jazz At The Wood"), Jazz Combo, Concert Band, and the newly revived Marching Band (known as the "Marching Broncos"). Jazz At The Wood was the first CPS high school band to be invited to perform at the Annual Jazz Festival (located in Grant Park) in 2007. They have also performed for the Annual Hyde Park Jazz Festival, Golden Apple Awards, Ravinia, Hewitt and Associates and Room 43.
Kenwood competes in the Chicago Public League (CPL) and is a member of the Illinois High School Association (IHSA). Kenwood varsity athletic teams are named the "Broncos." The school's football field is not of regulation size, and thus no home games are played there. There are no stands or seats for spectators. The boys' swimming and diving team were Public League champions 14 times (1985–96, 1997–98, 1998–99, 1999–2000). Kenwood boys' track and field were Public league champions and Class AA 3 times; (1982–83, 1983–84, 1985–86). Kenwood girls' swimming and diving were public league champions 8 times (1981–82, 1985–86, 1986–87, 1987–88, 1988–89, 1989–90, 1990–91, 1998–99). Kenwood boys’ football team won the Public league championship (2021–2022), the first time in the schools' history.
On February 19, 1970, 22 students were arrested at the school when a crowd of 200 students staged a sit–in outside of the principal's office. The sit–in was in response to minorities of the student body to get implementation of manifesto. The students also wanted a social room in the school to be named in memory of the late Black Panther Party chairman Fred Hampton. On February 15, 1972, 21–year old Cornell Fitzpatrick was shot to death in the school by a white Chicago police officer Benard Martin who was working as security at the school. According to the officer, the confrontation began when Fitzpatrick and a friend refused to leave the school after being asked repeatedly by the officer; which resulted in a physical altercation and Fitzpatrick's death. Eyewitness stories contradicted the officer's account of what occurred. In October 1989, Two teenage male students were charged with attempted arson and reckless conduct when they intentionally started a fire at the school. On October 2, 2003, the body of a newborn baby girl was found in a trash bin at the school by Chicago police officers. The baby was discarded by a 14–year old female student who had given birth in a bathroom at the school the previous day.