On Thursday, September 15 I attended the grand opening ceremonies at the new Proviso Math and Science Academy at Roosevelt and First Avenue, in Forest Park, and I came away with some very mixed feelings.
The building itself is spectacular. It is six stories of clean, bright classrooms, laboratories, meeting rooms, offices, dining facilities, etc. I believe they did a wonderful job on the renovations, although I seriously question if it is worth the $40 million reported price tag.
The amount of money put into the building seems especially enormous when I think that if board members and administrators had been more patient they could have purchased the fine IHM high school building in Westchester for about one tenth of the price, and no major renovations would have been necessary. Also, this building has a full gymnasium.
The students and staff appeared friendly and enthusiastic and well dressed in purple and white polo shirts, but they had difficulty reciting the student pledge together so that it could be clearly understood.
The ceremony was scheduled to begin at 9 a.m. and end at 10 a.m. It actually started at 9:15 and ended at 10:45. I feel that school personnel should be punctual and that activities should begin and end at the stated time. Running very late is seriously disrespectful to guests who have busy schedules to keep and is not a good example for the students.
The program may have gone on too long because of planning or because Board President Chris Welch and administrators spent so much time patting each other on the back.
Tours of the new building were promised, but because of group photographs, no students, administrators, faculty members or Board Members were available to conduct the tours, so guests were on their own.
Although these comments may sound negative, I am really thrilled and excited about the new Proviso Math and Science Academy. I believe it is the only hope for quality public secondary education in Proviso Township and it certainly has the potential to revitalize our community and to keep young families from moving away.