HYDE PARK — The first class of seventh-graders in nearly a decade at Ray Elementary started school with some jitters this week.
“I was a little shaky going in, but the people seem nice here,” said Maddy Whisenhunt, who recently moved from Portland with her parents.
Ray, 5631 S. Kimbark Ave., is adding seventh grade this year and eight grade next year as Chicago Public Schools begins phasing out Canter Middle School in Kenwood.
Whisenhunt’s parents said they were nervous about coming into the Chicago public school system and had difficulty finding information about Hyde Park schools.
“We were worried and it was really frustrating,” said Melissa Osborne, adding that they were much happier with the move after they were able to talk to parents and teachers at Ray.
Joseph Doyle Jr. was happy to be able to stay at Ray for seventh grade and was excited to see many of his friends in the first week.
Doyle’s mother, Cheyenita Allen, said she and Joseph Doyle Sr. were considering pulling their seventh-grader out of the public school system if Ray wasn’t an option.
Parents of younger students said they were also happy Ray would continue to be an option as their kids got older.
Chad Smith said he transferred his 6-year-old son from St. Thomas the Apostle School at 5467 S. Woodlawn Ave. to attend first grade at Ray and would likely transfer his preschool-age son next year.
“We know a lot of the parents from before and it’s a great sense of community,” Smith said, adding that his oldest attended Ray’s preschool program before going to St. Thomas.
Other parents said they were happy to have middle-school grades at Ray, but were waiting to see how the first year went.
“I’m indifferent,” said Kierah Robinson, mother of fourth-grader Kosey Walton. “It’s neither good nor bad yet, we’ll have to wait and see.”