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At Harvard Elementary, Friendships Bloom as Yale Students Enter School

By Wendell Hutson | August 26, 2013 7:55pm
 The first day of school ended Monday, Aug. 26, 2013 at the John Harvard Elementary School of Excellence in Grand Crossing. 
John Harvard Elementary School of Excellence
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GRAND CROSSING — Katherine Johnson's first day of school at John Harvard Elementary School of Excellence was full of excitement

"I made new friends and learned how to write my name," the kindergartner said. "We colored in our books too."

Katherine is among 500 students now attending Harvard after Elihu Yale Elementary, 7025 S. Princeton Ave., closed in June along with 49 other underutilized schools.

A large police presence was visible Monday after Harvard ended its school day at 3:45 p.m.

"I am glad to see all these police out here. I hope they are here two weeks from now when all the hoopla about schools starting back dies down," said Grand Crossing resident Angela Johnson, a new Chicago resident who was unaware that Yale students now attend Harvard.

"I did not know Yale kids go here too. As long as no one mess with my kids, I am good with more kids going here," added Johnson, who has two daughters and a son at Harvard. "My kids went to school in [Downstate] Danville last year, so this is their first year at this school."

Dasha Smith's son is in kindergarten at Harvard and said having Yale students at the school "is cool with me."

The first full day of school was exciting to Alvon Wooley, a second-grader at Harvard.

"There was a lot more kids in my class than before. I did not make any new friends yet, but I'm sure I will. I'm glad to be back in school and in a new classroom," Alvon, 7, said.

Harvard parent Tianza Frazier, 27, said she graduated from Yale in 2000, and now has two children at Harvard.

"Of course, as an alumna of Yale, I feel wonderful that the kids from Yale have a chance to attend a good school nearby," said Frazier, who has a daughter in kindergarten and a son in third grade at Harvard.

Academics was not the only thing students learned on the first day, according Frazier's son, Eric Owens, 8.

"My class learned about self-control and how vital it is for schools to have input from the community," Owens said.

And Alexis Brown, 12, said she made new friends at Harvard on Monday.

"During my math and science classes I met a few people from Yale. All of them seem nice. That's why today was a good first day of school," added Brown, a seventh-grader.

The day ended at Harvard opposite of how the morning started at William Ryder Math and Science Elementary School in Auburn Gresham, where two parents complained that their autistic kids were not picked up by a school bus, which forced the parents to take them to school.