School is cool: A report from Chicago’s kids

The average student spends about 1,400 hours in school every year. That’s a lot of time devoted to mastering reading, writing and arithmetic. But any student (former or current) knows that school is about much more than academics. During the school day, kids interact with teachers and peers, eat together, engage in extracurricular activities, explore their talents and navigate lots of new life experiences.

Today’s kids are busy.

We wanted to hear what Chicago-area kids really think about school (the good and the not-so-good). So we assembled a panel of 14 kids between the ages of 7 and 13 to talk about what goes on at their schools. This is what they had to say.

Chicago kids share their thoughts on bullying, beloved teachers and being in charge for a day.

What is your favorite part of school?

During lunch, I get to see all my friends, which is reallyimportant to me. Hristina



My classroom. It is decorated with our art projects.
Althea

I’ve always been good at math so I like doing it, and readingjust takes me places. I love that feeling. Richa

My favorite part of school is the extra-curricular activities.Whether you are athletic or artistic, there is something foreveryone. It is a great way to meet new people and exploredifferent activities that you wouldn’t have tried on your own.Abigale



Gym. Izaiah

I like reading because you learn stuff in books that you didn’tlearn before. Elaina


What is your least favorite part ofschool?

I dislike science because we always learn by watching longvideos. Alexys

Honestly there is nothing that I truly dislike about school. Ilove the whole atmosphere. My teachers are great. I have time tosocialize with my friends and I have fun. I do well in my classes,while still being challenged. Abigale

My least favorite part of school is indoor recess becausesometimes the movies are weird. Gabriella

I don’t like Making Meaning, Being a Writer, or theVocabulary Program. Half of the time, they treat us like we arebabies. Richa


Who is your favorite teacher?

Mrs. Soulias taught me in math and has improved my skills by amillion! I’ve learned an extreme amount of things from her. Herteaching strategies have persuaded me and I decided I would like tobecome a mathematician! Klaudia

My favorite teacher is Mrs. Diana Schmidt. She is one of themost challenging teachers in the school and we all feel at home inher classroom. She allows us to be funny and have a good time, butexpects us to be able to get on track when we need to work.Hristina



My music teacher because she'll give you a second chance if you
make a mistake. Jamani

Mrs. Solvsberg is my favorite teacher. She challenges me andencourages me to do my best. She is a great teacher!Dylan


Have you ever been a part of bullying in school? How didit make you feel?

I have seen someone getting bullied. I guess you could say Istood up for them. It made me feel rotten inside knowing thatpeople were so cruel to say such mean things about anyone.Hristina

People were talking about me and I could hear them and it mademe angry as if people thought I was stupid. Jamani

No, we have a strict policy against this. Citlali

One time at lunch, two kids were pulling my hair and my friend’shair. They were saying mean things to us, too. We told our teacherand she sent us to their classroom to tell their teacher. It hurtmy feelings and it hurt my hair. Gabriella

Yes, we were ignoring a girl on purpose. I felt bad leaving herout of the rest of the group. I got to know her better, and so didmy friends. We started to talk to her and now we are all closefriends. Alexys


Do you feel safe at school?

Not really because of what I heard on the news about otherschools and I know that could happen to me. Jamani

From as long as I can remember, school was one of my favoriteplaces to be. I feel safe at school when I am around my teachersand friends. Klaudia

Yes. We had police come in and talk to us about drugs, alcohol,bullying and violence. They gave us information on what we could doin scary situations and it helped me feel safer. Dylan

I do feel safe at school because we have intruder drills everyweek, and our advisors check on us every hour and 30 minutes.Tyki

I feel safe inside my school, but the outside can be a littlescary sometimes. Citlali


What would change about your school?

No homework and nicer teachers! Jamani



I would have math be taught the same way they taught it to our
parents. Izaiah



Free hot lunch every day, recess twice a day and to only have
math on Fridays. Grady

I would create healthier lunch choices. The sugary and sweetcookies with high fructose corn syrup and artificial sugars andflavorings aren’t good for us. Klaudia



I would put screens on the windows so that bees and birds cannot
fly inside my class. Gabriella



Kids would be able to use their phones. Tyki

Better hot lunch. Better toilet paper. Better people.Elaina


What would you do if you were principal for aday?

I would start the day off with a pep rally. I would then have anice cream social for kids who kept their grades up all year.Abigale



I might just give everyone a surprise day off.
Hristina

I’d make sure that every troublemaker, gossip or bully gotdetention the whole day and had to learn in kindergarten again.Jamani



Add a full size library and add more green space.
Citlali



I would have a festival outside with rides, ice cream, hot dogs
and games to make the kids happy. Althea

I would go to all the classrooms and read to everybody.Elaina

What would you do if you were principal for a day?

I would start the day off with a pep rally. I would then have anice cream social for kids who kept their grades up all year.

Abigale

I might just give everyone a surprise day off.

Hristina

I’d make sure that every troublemaker, gossip or bully gotdetention the whole day and had to learn in kindergartenagain.

Jamani

Add a full size library and add more green space.

Citlali

I would have a festival outside with rides, ice cream, hot dogs andgames to make the kids happy.

Althea

I would go to all the classrooms and read to everybody.

Elaina


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