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A closer look at CPS’ top high schools 🔎

By Sidney Madden | @sidney_madden_


Today is the last day CPS eighth graders can apply to one of the district’s 11 selective enrollment high schools, test-in schools that are often highly ranked by U.S. News & World Report

So what’re some of the schools students are vying to get into? 

Walter Payton in Old Town is No. 1 in Illinois and No. 4 in the U.S.
📙 Interesting classes? Electives like “Formation of the Contemporary World” and “Kaleidoscopes of Advanced Math.”
🎶 Fun fact: Payton’s choir performed at the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

Jones College Prep in Printer’s Row is No. 3 in Illinois.
📘 Interesting classes? Pre-law and pre-engineering tracks.
🧢 Fun fact: Jones alum Chance the Rapper famously recorded his “10 Day” mixtape while suspended for getting caught with weed his senior year.

Lane Tech in Roscoe Village is No. 5 in Illinois.
📗 Interesting classes? Horticulture, robotics, and a JROTC program. 
💚 Fun fact: Lane is the biggest CPS high school with 4,000+ students.

Hancock College Prep in West Elsdon is No. 9 in Illinois.
📕 Interesting classes? Personal finance, forensic science, and dance. 
🎳 Fun fact(s): Hancock opened a new building this year. And it has a bowling team!

🎧 Listen to WBEZ’s Sarah Karp break down the application process and hear about my experience applying to Whitney M. Young High School.

👉 Check out more CPS schools via Illinois Report Card.


Music can be therapeutic. That’s why karaoke is special — from signing up to sing, making friends with the regulars, feeling vulnerable, finding community, and building routine. 

Local comedian Connor Gorman found all this to be true when he started hanging out at Brando’s Speakeasy a few years ago. He turned that karaoke culture into Karaoke Storytellers, where performers share stories and sing a song inspired by the story.

🎧 Listen to one-time karaoke storyteller and musician David Johnson share how he found stability and catharsis in karaoke bars across Chicago.

👉 Come to the Karaoke Storytellers event at Schubas Sunday at 7 p.m. City Cast’s Jacoby Cochran is hosting!


▪️ Stop trying to make President Pritzker happen. [NBC Chicago]

▪️ The city is closer to establishing a grocery store at the West Garfield Park lot vacant where Aldi closed this fall. [Chicago Documenters]

▪️ No one wants to lead the city’s tourism agency, huh? [Crain’s Chicago]

▪️ Candace Parker has a baby on the way with her wife, and I’m still not over the Chicago Sky star’s sweet Insta post. [Candace Parker]

▪️ Today could be the warmest Dec. 15 in Chicago on record 😬 [WTTW]

▪️ Help keep this Humboldt Park community library open. [Read/Write Library]


+ TODAY: Supply drive for incarcerated people
Donate funds for water and hygiene products to people in state prisons. 

+ THIS WEEK: Evening shopping in Lincoln Park, Lincoln Square
Shop along Armitage and Halsted today from 6–9 p.m., and Damen and Lincoln Thursday from 5–8 p.m. 

+ THIS WEEKEND: Holiday cookie walk in Ukrainian Village
Feast on homemade cookies at Holy Trinity Cathedral Saturday and Sunday.


Wondering why you should nominate City Cast Chicago as the Chicago Reader’s best local podcast and newsletter of 2021? 

💡 We bring you deep dives, scoops, and hot takes every weekday at 6 a.m. that make you closer to your city.

📍 Whether we’re at a rodeo in South Shore or a cosplay convention downtown, we take listeners and readers across the city. 

💙 Daily moments of joy, including Jacoby’s “good news to get you through!”

Hopefully that’s enough to convince you to nominate us by noon today!

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