ROGERS PARK—What was once an uninviting storage room that kept abandoned musical instruments and band uniforms is now an inspired and updated learning room managed by volunteers inside Sullivan High School, 6631 N. Bosworth Ave.
On Thursday, the new room was revealed to students and the community for the first time.
At a ribbon-cutting ceremony, representatives from Gensler, the design firm behind downtown's tech hub 1871 and the nonprofit City Year, along with Principal Chad Adams and students, praised the 2,200-square-foot space's turnaround.
The groups contracted with Turner Construction for building assistance, and the upgrades came at no cost to Sullivan.
Adams thanked the two groups for "finding a school that loves kids as much as they do," to be selected as the fifth school in Chicago to receive a free partial makeover by City Year.
"This space is yours," he said to students in attendance, including freshman and older students who helped contribute to the design.
New features include a new floor and paint, a global mural with positive words, a flat-screen TV, lounge and reading area, computer desks, movable tables, a kitchenette and long tables for volunteers to use.
The chain-link fence that once protected junk now stands against a wall right outside the doorway where students can write themselves positive messages and words of encouragement before hanging them on the fence. Adams said he'd like to see freshman write themselves notes that they then can return to find by the time of graduation.
Freshman Joseph Iraguha, who is from the Congo, said he liked the new room and wrote to his future self, "I want to be a soccer player."
City Year volunteers will stay stationed at the school throughout the year and utilize the room in several ways: tutoring and academic intervention, after-school programs and clubs, group meetings for social/emotional well-being, and just having a welcoming place for students to read or study, organizers said.
Adams, who took over as principal three years ago, said he hopes the room will become a smaller version of a student center one might find on a college campus.
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