Kenwood Academy (formerly known as Kenwood High School) is a public 4–year high school located in the Hyde Park–Kenwood neighborhood on the south side of Chicago, Illinois, United States. Operated by the Chicago Public Schools (CPS) district, Kenwood opened in 1969. Kenwood limits acceptance of high school students to those living in its attendance area: from Lake Michigan to Cottage Grove Avenue east to west, and 47th to the Midway Plaisance north to south. The school is bounded by E. Hyde Park Boulevard on the south, S. Lake Park Avenue on the east, S. Blackstone Avenue on the west, and E. 50th Street on the north.The school's football field, however, extends the campus north to E. 49th Street along S. Lake Park Avenue. In addition to being a local high school, Kenwood has a magnet program that accepts students entering into 7th grade who pass a rigorous admissions test. The magnet program accepts students citywide using a random lottery with a standing of 6 or higher in both reading and math. Kenwood was recognized as a School of Distinction for its academic achievement and a Model School by the International Center for Leadership in Education in 2004. Kenwood was selected as one of America's best high schools by Newsweek and U.S. News & World Report magazines.
The Chicago Public Schools (CPS) began the planning process to build Kenwood Academy, then called Kenwood High School, on November 3, 1965. With Northern big cities undergoing the final years of the baby boom, the CPS felt the need for a modernized new high school on Chicago's South Side. During the time of planning for the new school, CPS operated Kenwood Upper Grade Center; a neighborhood elementary school that was later converted into a high school to relieve overcrowding at nearby high schools in 1962. At the time, the school served 900 students in a building meant for only 500. The site of the new high school was selected and sited bordered by 51st Street to the south, Lake Park Avenue to the east, Blackstone Avenue to the west; near the Illinois Central Railroad.
Construction on the school began in March 1968 which cost the district $7.4 million to build, at the time considered Chicago's most expensive high school. The new school situated at 5015 south Blackstone avenue opened in September 1969 with an enrollment of 700. Despite the objection by school board officials of wanting the school becoming predominately African-American, The school's demographics during the first ten years was made up of 79% African-American and 21% White. The white population at the school continue to decline over years, bringing the current demographics to 83.7% African-American; with whites and others making up the 16.3% (as of 2016). Elizabeth Mollahan–Jochner who was the principal of Kenwood Upper Grade Center served as the new Kenwood's principal. Mollahan–Jochner held the position for eighteen years from opening until retiring in June 1987. In recognition of the school's academic excellence and special programs, the Chicago Board of Education and CPS designated the school an "academy" and " a school of distinction" in 1977.
The Academic Center Program started as a way to introduce a select few 7th and 8th grade students to the high school environment before actually entering high school. Students in this program are referred to as "preppies," as they are preparing for high school by taking high school courses before they graduate from the 8th grade. Students are offered the choice of staying at Kenwood Academy or attending any other high school with their credits and GPA. Students that choose to stay at Kenwood are granted the right, in their senior year, to take tuition-free courses at the University of Chicago. The academic center is now housed in the former Canter Middle School (formerly Louis Wirth Elementary School) building, which closed after the 2013–14 school year.
Kenwood Academy students enrolled in Advanced Placement courses can access student resources on the University of Chicago's Hyde Park campus. University of Chicago students and professors have traditionally worked closely with Kenwood students in classes and on special projects. A recent example of a Kenwood Academy/University of Chicago relationship is evidenced in the Program of Academic Excellence for High School Juniors at Kenwood Academy (The Kenwood Project). This program pairs Kenwood Academy Juniors with professors at the University of Chicago, as mentors.
The Kenwood Academy Concert Choir has performed locally and nationally at churches, colleges and universities, and vocal competitions nationwide. Oscar winner Denzel Washington and Grammy award winners The Winans have shared billings (at their own requests) with the Kenwood Academy Concert Choir. The Kenwood Concert Choir has performed for President Barack Obama. The Kenwood Academy Bands are superior rated Jazz Emsemble (known as "Jazz At The Wood"), Jazz Combo, Concert Band, and the newly revived Marching Band (known as "Marching Broncos"). Jazz At The Wood was the first CPS High School in the city's history to be invited to perform at the Annual Jazz Festival (located in Grant Park) in 2007. They have also performed (through personal request) for the Annual Hyde Park Jazz Festival, Golden Apple Awards, Ravinia, Hewitt and Associates and Room 43.
Kenwood competes in the Chicago Public League (CPL) and is a member of the Illinois High School Association (IHSA). Kenwood varsity athletic teams are named the "Broncos." The school's football field is not of regulation size, and thus no home games are played there. There are no stands or seats for spectators. The boys' swimming and diving team were Public League champions 14 times (1985–96, 1997–98, 1998–99, 1999–2000). Kenwood boys' track and field were Public league champions and Class AA 3 times; (1982–83, 1983–84, 1985–86). Kenwood girls' swimming and diving were public league champions 8 times (1981–82, 1985–86, 1986–87, 1987–88, 1988–89, 1989–90, 1990–91, 1998–99).
On February 19, 1970, 22 students were arrested at the school when a crowd of 200 students staged a sit–in outside of the principal's office. The sit–in was in response to minorities of the student body to get implementation of manifesto. The students also wanted a social room in the school to be named in memory of the late Black Panther Party chairman Fred Hampton. On February 15, 1972, 21–year old Cornell Fitzpatrick was shot to death in the school by a white Chicago police officer Benard Martin who was working as security at the school.According to the officer, The confrontation began when Fitzpatrick and a friend refused to leave the school after being asked repeatedly by the officer; which resulted in a physical altercation and Fitzpatrick's death. Eye witnesses stories contradicted the officer's account of what occurred.In October 1989, Two teenage male students were charged with attempted arson and reckless conduct when they intentionally started a fire at the school. On October 2, 2003, the body of an newborn baby girl was found in a trash bin at the school by Chicago police officers. The baby was discarded by a 14–year old female student who had given birth in a bathroom at the school the previous day.Lena McLin – Music teacher, composer, author, and minister. McLin served as a music teacher and head of the music department at the school from 1970 to 1993.