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'Long Overdue' Mark Sheridan Annex Will Give Kids More Play Time: Officials

By Joe Ward | October 30, 2017 5:40am
 Ald. Patrick D. Thompson (11th), Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Cook County Comm. John Daley (left to right) break ground on the $8 million expansion of Mark Sheridan Academy.
Ald. Patrick D. Thompson (11th), Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Cook County Comm. John Daley (left to right) break ground on the $8 million expansion of Mark Sheridan Academy.
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DNAinfo/Joe Ward

BRIDGEPORT — Students at Mark Sheridan Academy already get a top-notch education. With the new addition that is now underway, they'll get access to better athletics facilities and playgrounds, according to officials.

Students, school leaders and local officials broke ground Saturday on the $8 million, 9,000-square-foot annex at Sheridan Academy, 533 W. 27th St. The addition will provide the top-ranked magnet school with a gymnasium, science lab, elevator, new playground and green space — amenities that will only add to what is a crown jewel of the neighborhood schools, officials said.

"This investment in our community will give Sheridan students the opportunity to take on new academic and athletic challenges," said Ald. Patrick D. Thompson (11th). "The new annex will be a staple not only for our students, but for our families and our communities as well."

With an already robust academic offering, Sheridan's biggest needs were in recreation, Principal John O'Connell said. A small third-floor gym is currently shared by the school's 500-plus students, and recess is generally canceled when the weather won't cooperate.

Now the school will be able to provide year-round recreation time as well as new amenities for after-school programs, O'Connell said. A new playground will be installed, and if there's enough money left over, an artificial turf field will go next to it. (If not, it will be grass, O'Connell said.)

"Academically we're doing really well," he said. "What we'll now have is the resources for physical fitness, health classes. It'll be critical for our after school resources."

A rendering of the annex coming to Mark Sheridan Academy. [DNAinfo/Joe Ward]

The $8 million annex through CPS' capital improvement budget will be ready by fall 2018, officials said. Mayor Rahm Emanuel said the project is an example of the strategic investments the city is making in neighborhood schools.

"The school is more than a school, it's a community center," Emanuel said. "Its long overdue and much needed."

Because the project is a public building, the city will hire local workers for the project: 50 percent of laborers for the project must be from Chicago, and 7.5 percent must live in the neighborhood, officials said.

A hiring event will be held Monday for those interested in working on the project. The event will run from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. at the Bridgeport Art Center's sculpture garden, 1200 W. 35th St.