Saturday morning the phone started ringing with calls from C. Peevie's 8th grade buddies.
"Did you get your letter yet?" his friends asked. "Where are you going?" Many of them had gotten perfect scores on their entrance exams, and had garnered the full 1000 points in the selective enrollment horse race. C. Peevie did not have a perfect score, but he's a bright boy and he had worked hard. We were optimistic that he had a good chance of getting accepted at several of the schools where he had applied.
We waited...and waited...and waited. The phone kept ringing with more happy news from classmates. The mailman kept not showing up. We waited some more. It was like giving birth, only without the agonizing abdominal cramps.
Mr. Peevie and I had plans that night, and we were hoping to be out of the house by 5:30...but still no mailman. Some days our mail doesn't come at all, and we started to figure that this would be one of those days, on the worst possible day.
Fiiiiiiinally, at 6:10 we saw the U.S. Mail truck on the street. We hovered by the front door, waiting as he slooooowwwwly delivered catalogs, bills and other extremely unimportant mail three doors down...two doors down...next door. AHA! We met the letter carrier at the front door, hands outstretched. He probably only gets that kind of reception from fat guys in wife-beaters waiting for the new Victoria's Secret catalog*.
I was ready to rip into the letter the moment we identified it in the packet of third class junk-- but Mr. Peevie rightly held me back. "Let C. Peevie open it," he said. "He's been working hard, and he deserves to be the one to open it." Oh, fine. Be mature.
One letter, four high school choices--three acceptances. I am proud and happy to report that C. Peevie was invited to attend his first choice selective enrollment high school, Jones College Prep.
It's challenging (read: nearly impossible) to find real stats on the number of kids applying for the selective enrollment high schools, the number of slots available, and especially the number of applicants for each slot in a particular school. One blogger and parent of a successful selective enrollment applicant (who also happens to be NY Times best-selling author James Finn Garner) suggests that "CPS keeps a lid on [the real numbers] because the system would look even more ridiculous and unfair than it already does."
This Chicago-based "elite educational coach" reports that only 7% of the 5730 students who tested for 214 slots at Jones were invited to attend. This compares to 6% at Northside, 4% at Walter Payton, and 8% at Whitney Young. The Coach sources her information from Chicago Board of Education, but I could not find a primary source online. Here's another really interesting post about the selective enrollment admission process last year, including a transparent discussion of the role of race and other preference statuses (scroll down to the February 29 entry).
C. Peevie was also accepted at Lincoln Park IB and Lane Tech. Now he just has to decide if his first choice is still his first choice. I asked him about this the other day, and he said that one reason he was leaning toward Jones was that he'd get to ride the train with his dad every day. Since he can't make a bad choice here, I'm thinking that that's a pretty sweet reason to choose a school.
Anyway, we're breathing again, now that the high school drama is over. When you see my boy, give him a high-five.
In three years, we'll be doing it all over again.
*Did you really think I would link to that? Gotcha!
You can read the first two chapters of High School Drama here and here.