Thursday, February 26, 2009

High School Drama: The final chapter

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 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.


Andrea Bateman said...

Congrats to you and your son! Here's a great example of how hard work really does pay off. I'm sure you are beaming with pride - I sure would be!

Alexzandria said...

Congrats to C. Peevie! =D I only got into my first two choices (Lane Tech & Whitney Young), but I'm still hoping for the residential schools.

E. Peevie said...

Thanks, Andrea. I AM beaming.

And thanks, Alexz. I'm sure the reason you didn't get into Jones or Peyton or Northside was that you didn't list them first in your app. Apparently, they can afford to be picky that way since they have so many qualified applicants.

I'm happy for you and Colin and the rest of his buddies--but it really does make me sad about all the kids that get left out in the cold, high school wise.

Anonymous said...

So you have something against fat guys in wife beaters?


Broke but Happy said...

A Bucky p.s.:

You OBVIOUSLY aren't in zip code 60614. In today's mail (Feb 28), I received my Peoples Gas bill postmarked Jan 22, payment due Feb 8.

I cannot fathom expecting to receive mail on any particular day; I never get party or wedding invites the same day others do. Often not the same week or month. My complaints and polite pleas to USPS go unheeded.

JamesFinnGarner said...

At the open house at Northside Prep, the principal told us that 6,000 kids apply there, and 330 are sent acceptance letters. Of those, the school will welcome about 277 freshmen.

What a racket.

E. Peevie said...

Bucky--Seriously, some days our mail does not come at all. And yet it seems that our mail service is still tons better than yours. I've heard of other really terrible zip codes in the city, also.

JFG--6000--that's higher than what CPS officially reports, according to the Ed Coach, and in agreement with your hypothesis.

Yes, a racket. A sad racket for the left-behinders.

celeste w said...

Hello. Found your post via when I searched for "Jones College Prep," which my son will also sttend next year. You offer a great narrative on the whole process. I so agree that it's a sad racket for left-behinders.

I found a Facebook Group for the Jones College Prep class of 2013 if your son is interested in joining it, as my son did -- I encouraged him to do so because I thought it would be nice for him to "meet" some other kids.

We hear wonderful things about the school though we know only one student who attends. Can you share your favorite things about it?

Anonymous said...

I also have an 8th grader and we're waiting on our letter (big packet if yes, little letter if no). We have another month to go.

Sometimes we don't get mail too. I suspect the mailman gives himself a holiday.

E. Peevie said...

Celeste--C. Peevie is not on FB yet, and I don't want to encourage it. But if moms of Jonesers (that doesn't sound right!) can join, maybe I'll check it out.

Julia--good luck. Hope you get the fat packet!

Thanks for visiting The Green Room.