Transformation at Clemente

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Roberto Clemente Community Academy has been undergoing comprehensive school reform since June 2011, when current principal Marcey Sorensen and her administrative team arrived.  Most notable among the many changes at Roberto Clemente Community Academy is their status as an IB Candidate School.  2012-13 marks the first year of alignment with the Middle Years Programme framework, with teachers adopting the MYP unit planner school-wide, along with a focus on international mindedness and attributes of the IB Learner Profile.  Candidacy has also begun for the IB Diploma Programme, and the school will submit an application for the IB Career-related Certificate in Culinary Arts, Broadcasting, and Allied Health this April.  By offering all 3 programs, Clemente hopes to create educational options that will fit the needs of all students while including them in the “wall to wall” IB model.

The IB’s emphasis on holistic student learning and community service was most recently embodied in the Freshman Community Project.  On September 23, all 9th grade homerooms embarked on a scavenger hunt to learn more about their school and the Humboldt Park Community.  They sought information about many of the murals along Division Street, plus other locations like Monarch Community Garden and Cyclo Urbano.  At La Casita de Don Pedro, students received a private tour and learned about the origins of bomba.  At the end of the scavenger hunt, classes met in 5 locations around Humboldt Park to clean up any littered garbage and beautify the environment.  In the afternoon, students returned to Clemente for a Socratic Seminar. They discussed ways to improve the community, the moral principles that are important to them, and how much courage it takes to act for change you believe in. Students also investigated issues facing the Humboldt Park community in each of their classes the day prior to the trip. Topics included: urban gardening and how it can alleviate the food desert problem; the impact humans have on ecosystems in Chicago; the cost of living in Cook County as compared to earnings from a minimum wage job; and local organizations that help diminish gang violence.  Students will return to the community for volunteer projects throughout the year, aiming to make Clemente, the community – and eventually, the world – a better place!

Cross-curricular and community-embedded projects like this exemplify the comprehensive reform measures that have pushed Roberto Clemente Community Academy to a Level 2 school per the CPS Performance Policy.  Major areas of improvement that contributed to the Level 2 score include: diminishing one-year dropout rates to 1.9%, increasing attendance to 81.5%, supporting freshmen with an 89.0% on-track rate, and more than doubling Advanced Placement enrollment.

As a neighborhood school and part of the Community As a Campus project, Clemente will continue to admit all students within the attendance boundary and provide them with the IB Middle Years Programme curriculum.  Neighborhood students are also given preference for the selective admissions programs at Clemente, including the IB Honors Pre-Diploma Program and the Career & Technical Education options.  Applications for these selective programs are due December 13, 2013 and can be completed online at or via a paper copy (available in the Clemente main office).

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