Ongoing Chicago Cares programs at Cyrus H. McCormick Elementary began in 1998. Located in the Little Village neighborhood of the South Lawndale community area, the school is one of the largest with which Chicago Cares works, serving 866 students in pre-kindergarten through fifth grade.
To accommodate as many of those students as possible, Chicago Cares programs have grown in number from five, each serving a different grade, to our current seven programs. In 2012, third grade participation increased when we added a second opportunity to involve more students, and this fall, another program for the fourth grade class was added as well. Despite the greater capacity, Chicago Cares programs at McCormick still have a wait list of eager students, illustrating the enthusiasm the children and parents have for the programs and the dedication put in by our volunteers. McCormick parents have often shown their appreciation for volunteers by cooking a meal for everyone on the last day of the school year.
Programs at McCormick occur twice a month for two hours on Saturday mornings. Students in first grade attend Read-with-Me. The first graders tend to be shy in the fall, but throughout the year, as they read in small groups with volunteers and create related art projects, their confidence grows. In second grade, students continue to build their reading skills at Hands On Literacy, during which they read in small groups with volunteers and then undertake a science project or holiday craft. In third grade, students take part in Explore Chicago to learn about the city’s history and culture through interactive projects, such as creating their own flag or reading about local food. Preparing to be tested in science on the Illinois Standards Achievement Test (ISAT), fourth graders participate in Young Scientists. With the goals of having students learn the scientific method and develop an appreciation for science, volunteers assist the children with hands-on experiments and encourage discussion about what they are doing. In fifth grade, students engage in Math Art: Volunteers help bring out students’ creativity through art projects that reinforce concepts such as fractions and multiplication, as well as introduce advanced topics such as business math and economics.
It’s no doubt that with so many children to serve, Chicago Cares volunteers at McCormick are always in high demand. Come be a part of the growing programs by signing up to volunteer at McCormick!