Harper High School (Chicago)

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Harper High School
6520 S. Wood Street
Chicago, Illinois 60636
United States
Coordinates 41°46′30″N 87°40′11″W / 41.7750°N 87.6697°W / 41.7750; -87.6697Coordinates: 41°46′30″N 87°40′11″W / 41.7750°N 87.6697°W / 41.7750; -87.6697
School type Public secondary
Motto "Focus on today, Preparing for tomorrow"
Opened 1911
School district Chicago Public Schools
Principal Leonetta C. Sanders
Grades 912
Gender Coed
Enrollment 245 (2015–16)[1]
Campus type Urban
Color(s)      White
Team name Cardinals
Average ACT scores 14.1
Yearbook Shield[2]

William Rainey Harper High School (commonly known as Harper High School) is a public four-year high school located in the West Englewood neighborhood on the south side of Chicago, Illinois, United States. Harper serves students in West Englewood and certain streets of Chicago Lawn.[3] Harper is part of the Chicago Public Schools district. The school is named for scholar and educational administrator William Rainey Harper. Opened in 1911, the school has a graduation rate of 49.5 percent (as of the 2014–15 school year).

Background and national attention[edit]

The majority of the school's students are Black-American. Harper was the first public school in Chicago to be a part of the Turnaround project started by former Chicago Public Schools CEO Arne Duncan.[4] Harper High School gained national attention when the school was featured on The Oprah Winfrey Show. The show discussed Harper High School's lack of computers and other essential learning tools for its students. The Rev. Jesse Jackson has been a big advocate for the school and its lack of funding.[citation needed]

Harper High School was the focus of a 2012 WBEZ report[5] concerning the 27 past and present students who were casualties of gun violence in the preceding 13 months. The school was subsequently the subject of a two-episode, five-month immersive investigation by This American Life that aired on February 15 and 22, 2013, focusing on gun violence and the lives of students;[6] the series earned a Peabody Award.[7]

In April 2013, two Harper students, Deonte Tanner and Brittney Knight, won Bill Gates Millennium Scholarships. They were the first students in school history to do so.[8]

Programs and performance[edit]

It was also adopted by the BET network. Harper performs a B.A.G. program yearly. They are involved in AVID and CTE programs. B.A.M. has appointed themselves to Harper High School, as well as Embark, W.O.W, and City Year. Harper continues to improve in areas such as five-year graduation rate, college enrollment rate, test scores, attendance, college graduation rate, and college retention rate. In the 2012-2013 academic school year, 75.7% of Harper freshmen were on track to graduate, and the five-year graduation rate was 68%. In 2010, the college retention rate was 25%. In 2012, it increased to 42%. That gives the school a 17% increase within the standard two years.


B.A.G. stands for "Behavior, Attendance, and Grades". This helps the school know which students are on track to graduate and go to college.


Harper High School is a non-selective enrollment high school with attendance boundaries. Students within the attendance boundary may immediately be enrolled without a form of admission. Those outside of the boundary will have to receive permission from the school to enroll. If there are more applications than spots available, the school will perform a computerized lottery.


Harper competes in the Chicago Public League (CPL) and is a member of the Illinois High School Association (IHSA). Harper's boys' basketball team were regional champions for three consecutive seasons (2008–09, 2009–10, 2010–11).[9]

Notable alumni[edit]

External links[edit]