Whitney M. Young Magnet High School
211 South Laflin Street


United States
Coordinates41°52′42″N 87°39′49″W / 41.8782°N 87.6636°W / 41.8782; -87.6636
School type
Established1970; 54 years ago (1970)
School districtChicago Public Schools
CEEB code141383[2]
PrincipalRickey Floyd Harris
Enrollment2,142 (2022–2023)[1]
Campus typeUrban
Color(s)  Orange
  Navy Blue
Athletics conferenceChicago Public League
Team nameDolphins
NewspaperThe Beacon

Whitney M. Young Magnet High School is a public 4–year magnet high school and middle school located in the Near West Side neighborhood of Chicago, Illinois. Opened on September 3, 1975, Young was the city's first public magnet high school.

Named after Whitney Moore Young Jr., a prominent African-American civil rights leader, the school is operated by the Chicago Public Schools district.[3]


The school is located between the present day University of Illinois Chicago campus and a string of city blocks that were burnt out during the riots following the assassination of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. on April 4, 1968.[4]

Construction on the school's buildings were completed in 1974[5] and Whitney Young opened for the 1975–1976 school year on September 3, 1975, as a selective enrollment school under the leadership of the school's first principal, Bernarr E. Dawson.[6]

300 students from the nearby Crane High School were also admitted in 1975 following public outcry for Young to support its local student population. The school would return to full selective enrollment status by 1979 with the introduction of an entrance exam.[4]

Rickey Harris currently serves as principal, taking over from Dr. Joyce Kenner in the 2022–2023 academic year. He is only the fourth principal in the school's history.[7]


Admissions and Academic Center

Admission to Young is granted based on entrance exam performance, standardized test scores, and elementary school grades, and is open to all residents of Chicago, Illinois. The school consistently scores among the top high schools in the U.S. In 2009, Young was awarded the Blue Ribbon Award.[8] The academic center is an accelerated program for seventh and eighth graders. Seventh and eighth graders are immersed in an intense high school experience, taking courses for high school credit. Classes include Honors Algebra I and Honors Environmental Science in seventh grade, and Honors Geometry, Honors Survey of Literature, Honors World History and Honors Biology in eighth grade.

In addition, students are allowed to select up to two elective classes each year. There are many extracurricular programs for the students who attend the Academic Center, including basketball, cross country, track and math team.

A documentary titled Selected, documenting Young's and Chicago Public Schools' selective enrollment admissions process, was released in 2015.[9]


Science Bowl and Math Team

The school's Science Bowl Team won the Regional National Science Bowl Championship in 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2023, and 2024. They advanced to the National Finals in Washington, D.C., representing the city of Chicago. Notable achievements include placing first in the Division Team Challenge at the National Finals in 2016.[10] Young Math Team competes in several local and national competitions, including the City of Chicago Math League, the North Suburban Math League, the Illinois Council of Teachers of Mathematics competition, the American Mathematics Competitions, and the Mandelbrot Competition. The team won the 2013 and 2014 4AA Illinois Council of Teachers of Mathematics (ICTM) State Championship and finished second and third in 2015 and 2016 respectively.[11]

Academic Decathlon

The Academic Decathlon team has been the Illinois State Champions for 34 out the last 35 years and finished second place in the nation in 2012.[12][13] During the 1995 Illinois State Championship, Young was outscored by the team from Steinmetz High School, though it was later revealed that Steinmetz had obtained a copy of the test in advance. The Steinmetz team was stripped of the title and it was awarded to Young.[14] The situation involving the two schools was dramatized in the HBO film Cheaters.

Young's Academic Decathlon team won its twentieth consecutive state title in 2023[15] and finished second place in the nation for Division I of the United States Academic Decathlon National Finals that same year.

Debate team

A two-student debate team from Young won the National Forensics League National Speech and Debate Tournament[16] in policy debate in 2010, becoming the first team from an urban debate league to achieve a national championship.[17] Whitney Young also won the NAUDL Chase Urban Debate National Championship[18] in 2010.

TV Production

Since 2013,[19] the school has offered a video production program as part of its Multimedia Literacy course.

Junior and Senior year students create a weekly episode for DubTV, the school's official web-series, which is hosted on its website. The series is a variety show that features scripted and non-scripted segments as well as advertisements for school clubs and events. Recurring characters include Mr. Beagler, a stuffed animal voiced by a rotating cast of students.


Flip the Dolphin mascot at the Chicago Public High School League championship basketball game, 2014.

Young competes in the Chicago Public League (CPL) and is a member of the Illinois High School Association (IHSA). Young sports teams are nicknamed "Dolphins". Young has 52 athletic teams of 12 different sports. The boys' basketball team won the IHSA state championships four times (1997–1998, 2008–2009, 2013–2014 and 2016–2017).[20][21] The girls' basketball team won the state championship three times (2007–2008, 2011–2012 and 2013–2014).[22] The girls' tennis team won the state championship in 2017.[23] The school's chess team won the IHSA state championship six times (2010–2011, 2012–2013, 2013–2014, 2015–2016, 2018–2019, and 2020–2021).[24] Michelle Obama is the namesake of a 4.3 million dollar athletics complex opened in 2019.[25] Chicago Public Schools received funding for the complex through Tax Increment Financing (TIF).[26]

Extra-curricular activities

The Whitney Young Streaming Radio Station, known as WY Stream, was started on December 9, 2004, to showcase the achievements of students and staff. Stream TV was added in 2006, and includes shows about the school, as well as news clips and internal features. The Whitney Young theater company ("The Young Company") has performed such works as Tommy, Jesus Christ Superstar, Beethoven's Last Night, Moulin Rouge!, A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, and West Side Story. In 1996, several Young students worked to organize the student body and find faculty and administration support for the Gay Pride Club. One of the organization's founders later became a member of the Chicago School Board.[27] Also, students were inducted into the Chicago Gay and Lesbian Hall of Fame.[28][29]

Other information

2009 investigations into admissions

In September 2009, Whitney Young principal Joyce Kenner and Chicago Board of Education President Michael W. Scott were called to testify before a federal grand jury investigating how students were chosen for admission to Chicago's elite public schools.[30][31] According to a July 21, 2009, subpoena released by school officials, prosecutors sought the names of students who applied to be among a select group of students hand-picked by principals of schools. The subpoena also sought e-mails and other correspondence with "public officials" about applicants.[32] Two alderman acknowledged that they asked Kenner for help securing admission to the school for relatives and constituents.[33] In 2011, the Chicago Public Schools Inspector General recommended that selective enrollment schools reevaluate their use of "principal picks". Several political figures had used their influence to secure their children's admission into schools like Young. Kenner responded that she had used her principal picks on a wide range of students, and that only one of those students in 16 years had failed to graduate.[34]

Notable alumni


  1. ^ Chicago Public Schools: Young HS. cps.edu. Retrieved on March 10, 2023.
  2. ^ "High School Code Search". College Board. Retrieved September 3, 2012.
  3. ^ "WY Brochure (E-version)". wyoung.org. Retrieved November 21, 2023.
  4. ^ a b Kryczka, Nicholas (February 2019). "Building a Constituency for Racial Integration: Chicago's Magnet Schools and the Prehistory of School Choice". History of Education Quarterly. 59 (1): 1–34. doi:10.1017/heq.2018.49. ISSN 0018-2680.
  5. ^ "Whitney Young Magnet High School". PBC Chicago. Retrieved November 21, 2023.
  6. ^ "DAWSON, BENARR E." Chicago Tribune. September 8, 2006. Retrieved November 21, 2023.
  7. ^ "Whitney Young H.S. selects new principal, only its 4th in 47 years, to replace retiring Joyce Kenner". Chicago Sun-Times. August 11, 2022. Retrieved November 21, 2023.
  8. ^ "2009 Schools - Blue Ribbon Schools Program". www2.ed.gov. September 21, 2011. Retrieved November 21, 2023.
  9. ^ McCormick, Kayla (April 17, 2015), Selected (Documentary, Biography, Drama), CoHootz Films, New Chapter Entertainment, retrieved November 21, 2023
  10. ^ "Chicago Students Win Regional National Science Bowl® Competition, Secure Spot in National Finals in Washington, D.C." (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on May 24, 2017. Retrieved October 28, 2023.
  11. ^ ICTM High School Contest Team Results | Illinois Council of Teachers of Mathematics
  12. ^ CPS CEO Brizard Congratulates Whitney Young High School Decathlon Team On Finishing 2nd in National Competition
  13. ^ Clark, Jack (May 18, 2000). "All the Wrong Answers". Chicago Reader. Retrieved January 11, 2013.
  14. ^ Ilaina Jones. "No. 2 Spot Lifts Spirit Of Young". Chicago Tribune. April 24, 1995. Retrieved on September 23, 2012.
  15. ^ Mercado, Melody (March 20, 2023). "Whitney Young High School Wins 20th Straight State Academic Decathlon Title, Headed To National Competition". Block Club Chicago. Retrieved November 21, 2023.
  16. ^ "Whitney Young Wins National Debate Championship - District 299: Chicago Public Schools Blog". Chicagonow.com. June 22, 2010. Retrieved September 16, 2010.
  17. ^ Charles, Alfred (May 29, 2010). "Global Debate: Chicago Debate Chronicle June 2010". Globaldebateblog.blogspot.com. Retrieved September 16, 2010.
  18. ^ "NAUDL : National Association for Urban Debate Leagues". Urbandebate.org. Archived from the original on March 26, 2010. Retrieved September 16, 2010.
  19. ^ "WYTV - Season 1, Episode 1 for the week of September 30, 2013 Final". wyoung.org. Retrieved November 21, 2023.
  20. ^ Boys Basketball Champions & Runners-Up
  21. ^ "Whitney Young, Morgan Park, Orr Take Home State Basketball Titles". CBS Chicago. CBS. Retrieved March 21, 2017.
  22. ^ Girls Basketball Champions & Runners-Up They are immensely successful in most sports, including cross country and track.
  23. ^ "Whitney Young girls team wins CPS's first girls state tennis title". abc7chicago.com. October 25, 2017.
  24. ^ "Records andHistory". May 2023.
  25. ^ "Michelle Obama Honored With New Namesake Whitney Young Athletic Complex: 'This Is A Facility For Everybody'", Block Club Chicago, August 12, 2019, retrieved September 9, 2022
  26. ^ "High School Athletic Fields To Be Funded With TIF", chicago.gov, City of Chicago, November 21, 2017, retrieved September 9, 2022
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  28. ^ "Chicago Gay and Lesbian Hall of Fame". Glhalloffame.org. Retrieved September 16, 2010.
  29. ^ "Chicago Gay and Lesbian Hall of Fame". Glhalloffame.org. Retrieved September 16, 2010.
  30. ^ Banchero, Stephanie (September 17, 2009). "Whitney Young principal testifies in probe". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved September 17, 2009.
  31. ^ Rossi, Rosalind; Spielman, Fran (August 25, 2009). "Feds subpoena Chicago Public School principal; Aldermen asked Whitney Young's Kenner to get their kids in". Chicago Sun-Times. Archived from the original on August 28, 2009. Retrieved August 25, 2009.
  32. ^ Spielman, Fran (August 13, 2009). "Alderman helps his kid get into top high school; WHITNEY YOUNG; Munoz called principal". Chicago Sun-Times. Archived from the original on August 16, 2009. Retrieved August 25, 2009.
  33. ^ Lutz, BJ. "Whitney Young Principal Testifies in Admissions Probe". NBC 5 Chicago. NBC. Retrieved March 21, 2017.
  34. ^ Rosalind Rossi. "Inspector: Punish two principals". Chicago Sun-Times. January 4, 2011.
  35. ^ Sherman, Ed (June 7, 1985), "Katrina Adams Up To New Challenge", Chicago Tribune, retrieved August 20, 2011
  36. ^ Stephan, Terry (Winter 2004). "Tennis: A Great Match for Katrina Adams". Northwestern Magazine. Evanston, IL, USA: Northwestern University. Retrieved August 20, 2011.
  37. ^ Eisenband, Jeff (February 1, 2019). "Bartending, Country Music and Kay Adams' Relentless Path to Success". Front Office Sports. Retrieved December 18, 2020.
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  39. ^ Jauss, Bill (November 2, 1998), "Canty's Homecoming A Filling Experience", Chicago Tribune, retrieved August 20, 2011
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  43. ^ "Gift From NASA". Jet. 96 (6). Chicago, IL, USA: Johnson Publishing: 12. July 12, 1999. ISSN 0021-5996. Retrieved August 20, 2011. They are joined by ... NASA astronaut Joan Higginbotham, a graduate of Whitney Young ...
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  49. ^ The Wachowskis’ World beyond "The Matrix" : The New Yorker
  50. ^ Metz, Nina (July 15, 2019), The Chicago roots of the creative team behind Comedy Central's 'South Side'