Members of Thomas Kelly High School‘s Local School Council (LSC) at an April meeting discussed ways to improve its visibility and reputation in its Brighton Park neighborhood.
Kelly, which is part of the Chicago Public Schools system, is located at 4136 S. California Avenue on the southwest side. It serves nearly 3,200 students, more than 81 percent of which are Hispanic.
“We offer three languages and a ton of extra curriculars,” said Brian Halberg, LSC acting chair and social studies teacher. “We’re working on pricing banners to place on the school along Archer Avenue and having a stronger outreach to elementary schools.”
The LSC also recommended naming a marketing liaison or ambassador whose responsibility would be to attract new students and tout the school’s achievements.
“Our music program is great,” said Eric Skaliner, the Kelly chorus director. “Our band is 26th in the state, the orchestra is 15th, and our chorus is fourth.”
Carolyn Brown, a reading teacher, added Kelly’s a cappella chorus would be the only high school group in a statewide a cappella competition against college and professional a cappella groups.
The school’s chorus will also sing the national anthem before the White Sox game on May 22, which is Kelly High School Night at the stadium.
Another marketing strategy Kelly may implement is a change in the school planners to help with the transition for incoming freshmen students.
“The planner gives more space for organizing and keeping track of homework and tasks,” Halberg said. “It’s also something they are accustomed to in grade school, so it may help the transition to be smoother.”
An official marketing presentation will be held during the next LCS meeting on April 21.
The LSC also discussed the possibility becoming a uniform school but that is causing concern among some families who wonder whether that would attract students or drive them away. An attendee said uniforms may appeal to Latino families that are accustomed to school uniforms in Mexico, but they may be viewed unfavorably by students who are used to dressing themselves.
Another potential roadblock to implementing a uniform is cost. Cost is another factor to consider as it is unknown how the implementation of uniforms can impact recruiting and costs for the school. A uniform may require the school to provide clothing options that have a school logo to the students.
Working against this marketing drive is an increase in gang activity both within the neighborhood and outside the school.
“The [CPD] 9TH district will be stepping up their presence in front of the school to ensure safety,” Principal James Coughlin told the group.
Coughlin ended on a more positive note, announcing that all but 25 Kelly seniors have applied to three or more colleges.