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Thirteenth Ward Ald. Marty Quinn and Hancock High School Principal Vanessa Puentes use an outsized scissors to cut a ceremonial ribbon last Friday to open the new home of Hancock High School. --Greater Southwest News-Herald photo by Cosmo Hadac

Thirteenth Ward Ald. Marty Quinn and Hancock High School Principal Vanessa Puentes use an outsized scissors to cut a ceremonial ribbon last Friday to open the new home of Hancock High School. --Greater Southwest News-Herald photo by Cosmo Hadac

Clearing gets its first high school

Quinn leads opening of Hancock High School’s new home

By Tim Hadac

The Clearing neighborhood’s first-ever public high school opened its doors this week.

Hancock High School, which had been located at 56th and Komensky (in the old Lourdes High School building), cut the ribbon at its brand-new campus at 5437 W. 64th Place.

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Thirteenth Ward Ald. Marty Quinn and Hancock High School Principal Vanessa Puentes use an outsized scissors to cut a ceremonial ribbon last Friday to open the new home of Hancock High School. –Greater Southwest News-Herald photo by Cosmo Hadac

At a ceremonial opening last Friday, congratulations were in abundance.

“Having a state-of-the art building that will improve the quality of their education is exactly what we need to help our students grow academically and socially, matriculate into top-tier colleges and leave our school ready to create positive change in their communities,” said Principal Vanessa Puentes, who started her career at Hancock in 2009 as an English teacher. “I am beyond grateful for this investment in our school and our community.”

She thanked 13th Ward Ald. Marty Quinn, whom she called “an important partner in this project.”

Quinn reciprocated, and then some, going so far as to say that the new school would not have happened were it not for Puentes’ steady and consistent leadership and advocacy.

“This beautiful high school represents real investment and opportunity on Chicago’s Southwest Side,” Quinn said of the $90 million project. “It highlights the many new educational opportunities we’re bringing to the neighborhood.”

The alderman added, “Bringing educational opportunities to this area has been my north star. Students on the Southwest Side deserve the same educational opportunities as students on the North Side.”

Also attending the celebration were Mayor Lori Lightfoot, CPS Interim CEO Dr. Jose Torres and other elected and appointed officials.

The 173,000 square-foot, selective-enrollment high school can accommodate more than 1,000 students.

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Thirteenth Ward Ald. Marty Quinn gestures toward Sor Juana Principal Megan Kehr as he he briefly acknowledges her role as a leading educator on the Southwest Side. –Greater Southwest News-Herald photo by Cosmo Hadac

It includes 28 standard classrooms, two computer labs and four suites for subjects such as science, music, art and health. In addition, the campus includes rooms for extracurricular activities where students can dance, practice sports and fitness, a gymnasium, library, media center, theater, elevators for accessibility and extra support spaces.

“This celebration serves as an important investment in the long-term success and bright futures of our students from the Southwest Side,” Lightfoot said in a statement. “I, alongside Alderman Quinn, Dr. Jose Torres, and members of the community are beyond proud to deliver new, modern facilities and educational resources to support these students and their families just in time for the first day of school.”

“We are excited to welcome back students at Hancock High School and schools across the city for the new school year,” Torres said. “This state-of-the-art high school offers students the opportunity to expand their interests and develop a foundation for future success.”

Additional educational investments on the Southwest Side include plans to move the Sor Juana School, 4120 W. 57th St., into the former Hancock School building. Quinn has been a champion of Sor Juana and its principal, Megan Kehr.

In turn, Quinn said he hopes to use Sor Juana’s current space (the former St. Turibius School) to expand early childhood education opportunities in the West Elsdon neighborhood.

1 Comment

  1. Magda Cornejo on September 1, 2021 at 7:32 pm

    That’s really nice at least the kids have an other option. We are so happy and excited for the community. My nieces went to Walter Payne all the way to the North side having to take trains and busses.



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