University Laboratory High School (Urbana, Illinois)
|University Laboratory High School|
|1212 West Springfield Avenue
Urbana, Illinois 61801
|School type||Public, High School, selective admission|
|Principal||Dr. Jeffrey Walkington|
|Enrollment||311 (all grades)
245 (grades 9-12)
|Color(s)||Orange and Blue|
University Laboratory High School, known as Uni, or Uni High, was established in 1921 and is a laboratory school located on the engineering part of the campus of the University of Illinois. Its enrollment is approximately 300 students, spanning five years (the traditional grades 9-12, preceded by a composite 7th and 8th grade year known as the "subfreshman" year). The school is notable for the achievements of its alumni, including three Nobel laureates and a Pulitzer Prize winner; in 2006 and 2008 it was recognized as a "public elite" school by Newsweek because of its students' high scores on the SAT. Until the recent SAT testing changes the total SAT scores varied from year to year ranging from 1400 to 1600.
Funding and relationship to the University of Illinois
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Although Uni is located in territory belonging to the Urbana School District, it is not operated by the school district, nor does it receive any property tax revenue from this or any other district. Public funding comes only through the statewide per-pupil distribution financed in the Illinois state budget. Additional funding comes from donations by alumni and parents of current students. Enrollment is competitive, rather than being dependent upon residency in a particular district.
For many years, Uni was funded by the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign as a place to experiment with educational curricula, but the University of Illinois withdrew most of its support in the early 1980s. The "laboratory" aspect persists in certain classes. An experimental math course was taught in the early 2000s and teachers continue to experiment in small, creative ways with their courses to adapt to each grade of sixty students. The relationship to the University also imparts a number of other benefits on Uni's students. The proximity to the University campus provides a stimulating political climate, and access to the University's library system is equivalent to that of any undergraduate. The high school library is a branch of the University library system and for this reason has been called "the largest high school library in the world." Additionally, Kenney Gym, the University's old men's gymnasium, is used by Uni for both physical education and as practice and game space for the volleyball and basketball teams. While access to certain facilities that are supported by student fees (such as the ARC recreation center) is not granted to Uni students, who are not assessed these fees, the school's relationship with the University of Illinois allows students over the age of 15 with sufficiently high grades to enroll in courses at the University. Credit earned in this manner may then be applied to future study at the university level.
Admissions and academics
Students apply to enter Uni as part of the incoming "subfreshman" class which, although composed of seventh and eighth grade students, completes a year at eighth grade level before continuing on to the ninth grade. Roughly 65 students are admitted each year, keeping the school's total enrollment near 320 students. Admission decisions are based on previous academic history, extracurriculars, a personal statement, and a student's scores on the Secondary School Admission Test. Students may apply during their sixth or seventh grade years. Because the subfreshman year combines two years of middle school into one year, and because many students enter at the ages of 12 and 13, many Uni students graduate at 16 or 17. For this reason, some students then choose to wait a year before enrolling in college. Whether immediately after graduation, or a year later, the vast majority of students go on to enter a four-year college or university.
The school's chess team has won the IHSA's team chess tournament seven times (1978, 1979, 1986, 1991, 1992, 1994, and 2009) and has been runner-up three times (1976, 1980, 1989). They came in second in the US National Championship in 1978 on a tiebreak. During the school year, the team participates in the East Central Illinois Chess League, a conference consisting of twelve schools from the central part of Illinois.
WYSE Academic Challenge
Since 1997, Uni has been an annual participant in the University of Illinois' Worldwide Youth in Science and Engineering Academic Challenge, which consists of a series of tests in various academic fields, including biology, chemistry, computer science, engineering design, English, mathematics, and physics. The competition is open to high schools in Illinois and Missouri. For nine consecutive years from 1998 to 2006, as well as in 2008, 2009 and 2011, Uni was the state champion in the smallest division (enrollment under 300). In 2007, Uni competed in the next larger division and placed 2nd, despite the school's smaller enrollment in the 9th through 12th grades.
Despite the school's small enrollment, Uni offers five no-cut sports for boys (Cross Country, Soccer, Basketball, Track & Field and Tennis (club sport)) and six no-cut sports for girls (Cross Country, Swimming, Volleyball, Basketball, Soccer, and Track & Field). The cross country and track teams have sent competitors to the state finals on numerous occasions. In girls' track & field, Uni has two third place finishes (1985, 1990) and one second place finish (1991). In cross country, Uni has, in addition to appearances by individuals in other years, had 16 girls' teams and 9 boys' teams qualify for the state finals, with two third place finishes by the girls (1988, 1991) and one third place finish by the boys (1995). In 2011, the boys' soccer team advanced to the IHSA Class 1A Super-Sectional Round (Elite 8), claiming the program's first ever IHSA Regional and Sectional titles along the way. The 2012 Boys Soccer team topped the previous year's performance finishing second in state. The 2011-12 Girls' Basketball team advanced to its first-ever IHSA Sectional Final (Sweet 16), claiming its second-ever Regional Championship (1984).
The Wylde Q. Chicken Award
The Wylde Q. Chicken Award, sponsored by the graduating class of 1972, was first awarded in 1998 and is meant to recognize "spontaneous creativity," "unbidden originality," and "extraordinary acts in ordinary circumstances." It is awarded annually at the end of the school year; recipients are chosen by a panel of judges from the class of 1972 along with past winners of the award. Previous winners have included a series of promotional posters for the 50 states in the first floor restrooms, the staging of the American Revolution in comic strip form, and a Gilbert and Sullivan-style adaptation of Shakespeare's Macbeth.
Another example of creative freedom is Agora Days, a four-day school week in late February when students, parents, faculty, alumni and friends of the school can teach hour-long classes about a wide range of topics. Students are required to take a number of academic-oriented classes, but classes based on playing sports and watching films or TV series also exist. Students have the same eight-hour schedule on each of the four days. Agora Days has been a Uni tradition since 1977.
Notable alumni and faculty
Three alumni are Nobel Prize laureates:
- Philip W. Anderson (class of '40), for Physics in 1977.
- Hamilton O. Smith ('48), for Medicine in 1978.
- James Tobin ('35), for Economics in 1981.
Other notable alumni include
- Iris Chang (class of '85) was a journalist and author (The Rape of Nanking), and was the subject of the book Finding Iris Chang.
- Paul Debevec ('88), 2010 Academy Award-winning researcher in computer graphics
- Eugie Foster ('88), 2009 Nebula Award-winning author
- Theodore Gray ('82), a co-founder of Wolfram Research and winner of the Ig Nobel Prize for chemistry in 2002
- Erika Harold, Miss America 2003
- Tina Howe ('55), American playwright best known for Painting Churches and Coastal Disturbances; the latter received a Tony Award nomination for best play in 1987
- Shamit Kachru ('87)), string theory specialist at Stanford University
- Jonathan Kuck ('07), speedskater who won a silver medal in the team pursuit for the U.S. in the 2010 Winter Olympics
- Francine Patterson ('65) is an animal psychologist noted as the teacher of Koko (gorilla) the gorilla who could sign 1000 words and understand the sign of 2000 words.
- Mary Murphy Schroeder ('58), Chief Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit
- George Will, ('59) Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist
Notable faculty include
- Prof. Max Beberman, member of the math faculty from 1950–1971, head of UICSM and Director of the Curriculum Laboratory, contributed to the development of and widely known as "The Father of the New Math".
- Members of the Uni community usually refer to subfreshmen as "subbies." (Use of the term "subbie" in the Online Gargoyle, Uni's student newspaper)
- Chicago educator named new director of University High School
- Best High Schools: In A Different Class: The nation's most elite public high schools fall outside the Newsweek list
- Classes Outside of Uni High
- Admissions brochure
- IHSA Chess Team Champions and Runners-Up
- WYSE Academic Challenge
- IHSA Season Summaries
- The WQC SGA COL FAQ
- 2006 Wylde Q. Chicken Award Winners
- 2005 Wylde Q. Chicken Award Winners
- 2004 Wylde Q. Chicken Award Winners
- "Philip Warren Anderson". autobiographical sketch. Nobel Foundation. 2005. Retrieved 29 November 2010. "I read voraciously, but among the few intellectual challenges I remember at school was a first-rate mathematics teacher at the University High School, Miles Hartley, and I went to college intending to major in mathematics. I was one of several students sent to Harvard from Uni High in those years"
- "Hamilton O. Smith". autobiograhic sketch. Nobel Foundation. 1978. Retrieved 29 November 2010. "We attended University High School, a superb small college preparatory school with an array of exceptionally talented students drawn largely from university faculty families."
- "James Tobin". autobiographic sketch. Nobel Foundation. 1981. Retrieved 29 November 2010. "I was born in Champaign in 1918. From the neighborhood elementary and intermediate schools, I went to the University High School in the twin city, Urbana"
- Benson, Heidi (17 April 2005), "Historian Iris Chang won many battles / The war she lost raged within", SF Gate (San Francisco, CA, USA), retrieved 29 November 2010, "Iris and her brother went to University High — known as Uni High — on the campus where their parents taught. The small, academically elite school has produced many Nobel laureates."
- Oakes, Elizabeth H. (2007), Encyclopedia of World Scientists 1 (revised edition ed.), New York, NY, USA: Facts on File, Inc., ISBN 0-8160-6158-0, "(p.570) After graduating from University High School in Urbana, Illinois in 1965, Patterson enrolled in the University of Illinois at Urbana."
- "Chapter 1: Max" by Prof. Ralph A. Raimi
- A Guide to the Max Beberman Film Collection, ca. 1950-1960, Briscoe Center for American History, U. Texas at Austin
- University High home page
- University High student newspaper, the Gargoyle, online version
- The Wylde Q. Chicken Award: Honoring Uni students who exhibit spontaneous creativity
- The Flow of History