Friday, February 20, 2015

Whitney M. Young Magnet High School
 by: chicago designslinger

 [Whitney M. Young Magnet High School (1971) Perkins + Will Partnership, architects /Image & Artwork: chicago designsinger]

Martin Luther King's assassination on April 4, 1968 was followed by a series of events in some of the country's largest cities that led to civil unrest resulting in death, and the loss and destruction of millions of dollars in property due to arson-inspired fires. The Whitney M. Young Magnet High School was one of the results of the scenes witnessed on Chicago's west side during those early April days in 1968.

  [Whitney M. Young Magnet High School, 211 S. Laflin, Chicago /Image & Artwork: chicago designslinger]

Built out of the ashes of the devastation on nearby Madison Street, Young High was the city's first experiment with the magnet school concept at the high school level. Meant to draw high-performing, excellent test-scoring students from outside the local district and combine them students from the impoverished surrounding community, the school was an attempt to try and provide a good education for students willing to work hard, no matter their race or income level. Whitney opened in September 1975, and got off to a rocky start with claims of discriminatory action on the part of the School Board, but with all slots filled, the first group of students was ready to meet the mandated educational challenges.

  [Whitney Young Magnet High School, Near West Side, Chicago/Image & Artwork: chicago designslinger]

 Named for civil rights leader and dynamic leader of the National Urban League, the building was designed by architect C. William Brubaker, a partner at the architectural firm of Perkins & Will. The minimalistic-looking, steel-framed school's design was all the rage in its day, and reflected the city's desire to make Whitney a cutting-edge facility for a cutting-edge education. The building was the most costly school ever built in the State of Illinois in 1975, but the investment in the building and the students paid off. Whitney has one of the best performing arts, science and math programs in Chicago. The school has won the State Academic Decathlon 22 times in the past 23 years, plus 95% of Whitney's graduating seniors are admitted to a 4-year university or college. Michelle Obama graduated from Whitney in 1981, before going on to Princeton for her BA, and then her law degree from Harvard in 1988.

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