NEW EASTSIDE — GEMS World Academy in Lakeshore East is poised to be Chicago's priciest school when it opens next fall, but on Friday school leaders treated the community to a kid-friendly festival free of charge.
The school sponsored a fall festival in Lakeshore East next to the construction site that will soon house its elementary and high school campuses, footing the bill for live music, food, face painting and other kid-friendly activities.
The goal wasn't to recruit students — the school's already begun accepting applicants for the starting class of 350 — but to introduce the school and its staff to the community, said Kristen Bifro, a spokeswoman for the school.
Kids activities at the fest emphasized GEMS's international vibe. The school system has sites in China, Egypt, India, Kenya and United Arab Emirates, and the Chicago school will be its first U.S. location.
"The face painters are creating animals from around the world, there's a coloring contest with flags from all the countries with GEMS schools," Bifro said. "And at our tie dye station, kids can learn about the different techniques of fabric dyeing used around the world."
Andrea Bowman, who said she's considering the school for her toddler Ethan, called the event "a great gesture for the community."
"It's reassuring," the Lakeshore East resident said. "It makes me think they'll be good neighbors."