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Calumet High: The Final Phase

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Calumet High: The Final Phase

Photo by Deborah Lee

Calumet High School seniors are closing their books for the summer. This weekend’s graduation marks the end of an era for one hundred thirty one seniors. It also marks the end of an era for the school.

Calumet High is one of several Chicago Public Schools closing its doors due to chronically poor academic performance. That’s what makes this graduation ceremony bittersweet for these students in the Auburn-Gresham neighborhood.

For Chicago Public Radio, Deborah Lee reports.


Clad in blue caps and gowns, graduates sauntered across the stage waving to family members under a din of cheering voices.

Senior Morgan Freeman says there are a lot of emotions that come with graduating.

FREEMAN: You know, everything comes to an end. We’re the final phase, the last class, so I’m very proud.

This class actually nicknamed themselves the “final phase” because they are the last class to graduate before Calumet closes its doors for good.

Going forward the school will be occupied by a charter school, as part of the city’s effort to revitalize education.

Teacher Joseph Tanke feels heartbroken about the transition.

TANKE: You see this building. You see how they fix it up. This building would not be fixed up if this was going to be Calumet High School next year. Is that fair? I don’t believe so. And I don’t think that’s fair for the children.

But to others like senior William Riley, the school closure is not the focus of this day.

He says all he feels is happiness for having graduated.

RILEY: A lot of people thought that I wouldn’t do it and it just feels so good to prove to them, to go against the statistic, and just be one of those few people that could actually do it.

Riley plans to attend college and study biomedical engineering this coming fall.

For Chicago Public Radio, I’m Deborah Lee.

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