Simeon Career Academy
|Simeon Career Academy|
8147 S. Vincennes Avenue
|School type||Public Secondary Vocational|
|School district||Chicago Public Schools|
|Principal||Sheldon D. House|
|Athletics conference||Chicago Public League|
|Accreditation||North Central Association of Colleges and Schools|
Neal F. Simeon Career Academy (formerly known as Westcott Vocational High School, Neal F. Simeon Vocational High School, Neal F. Simeon Career Technical Academy), commonly known simply as Simeon, is a public 4–year vocational high school located in the Chatham area on the South Side of Chicago, Illinois, United States. Simeon is a part of the Chicago Public Schools.
The school is named for African-American educator and administrator Neal Ferdinand Simeon. He was valedictorian of his high school and a star athlete in college, B.S. Mechanical Engineering. The Simeon school opened in 1949. In the 1980s Simeon student athletes, boy and girl teams bolstered in part by notable coaching, began winning city, regional and state championships. The school and community endured the 1984 tragedy of its nationally rated star basketball player being shot and killed. Simeon dedicated its new gymnasium in 1987. A totally new main school building was opened in 2003.
Simeon was founded in 1949, as Westcott Vocational High School in a building located at 8023 S. Normal Avenue, where it operated until the Kroger company donated a vacant warehouse (located at 8235 S. Vincennes Avenue) to the Chicago Public Schools in 1963. The school was renamed Neal F. Simeon Vocational High School in September 1964. The school's name changed from "Vocational High School" to "Career Technical Academy" in September 1998. With a new gymnasium completed in 1987, Simeon still operated in the Kroger building's limited conditions until a new building was completed and opened September 2003. When the new building opened, the school's address changed to 8147 S. Vincennes Avenue. In 2003, Simeon's name changed to its current name.
Neal Ferdinand Simeon
Neal Ferdinand Simeon was born in Chicago, Illinois on May 30, 1916 and was of Creole descent. His family was from New Orleans where his father made a living as a cigar maker. He had two sisters and three brothers; Lillian, Ethel, Omer, Albert and Leo. Neal F. Simeon married Helen and to this union was born daughter Sharon A. Simeon. Simeon went on to graduate from Wendell Phillips High School in Chicago, IL in 1934 where he was football captain and valedictorian. Mr. Simeon won an academic scholarship to Northwestern University, but instead enrolled at the Illinois Institute of Technology (IIT) where he starred in track and boxing. As the IIT light heavyweight boxing champion he competed in the Golden Gloves. He received a Bachelor of Science degree in Mechanical Engineering from IIT in 1938 and was elected to Pi Tau Sigma, an honorary Mechanical Engineering fraternity.
His career as an educator began when he became a teacher at Wendell Phillips Evening High School. A short time later, he became a full-time machine shop teacher at Dunbar Vocational High School where he successively served as Administrator, Placement Counselor, Assistant Principal, and as Director of Special Projects in Vocational Education. His last position was as Director of Vocational Education and Guidance Centers for the Chicago Board of Education. He was then the highest paid African American employee at the Board.
In 1962, Neal F. Simeon was called upon by President Kennedy to represent the United States at the International Trade Fair in Lagos, Nigeria. He was given a special leave of absence to supervise the educational and training aspects of the United States Exhibit of New Tools, New Skills, and New Markets. Mr. Simeon’s interest in the vocational training of Chicago’s youth was evident to all who observed his tireless devotion to his work. He was vitally concerned with the special problems in the area of vocational education. He was eminently qualified to assume the directorship of such a dynamic program of preparing the city’s youth for the forthcoming manpower requirements of our changing economy. At the age of 46, Neal F. Simeon died on August 28, 1963 at Wesley Memorial hospital in Chicago, Illinois. He was a member of Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity.
Career and technical education
The Career Academy designation at the Chicago Public Schools is “a college-preparatory curriculum and career–focused education in different fields at each school.”
Key Career and Technical Education (CTE) programs at Simeon are, Accounting, Architecture, Auto Tech, Auto Body, Barbering, Carpentry, Cosmetology, CISCO (computer) Networking, Culinary Arts, Electricity, Teaching, Web Design, and Welding. Each program provides the opportunity for students to gain direct knowledge and most earn industry-recognized certifications or college credit.
Ratings for Simeon reported by the CPS
Performance Rating: level 1
SAT Average: 889
Graduation Rate: 85.2%
College Enrollment: 61.7%
Boundary Grades Served: No Boundary
Grades Served: 9-12
The school is well known for Benjamin "Benji" Wilson, a 17–year old star basketball player (then recognized as the top high school basketball player in the nation) who led the Wolverines to their first city and state basketball championships was shot on the eve of his senior season opener (November 20, 1984). He died the following day. The day after his murder, then Chicago Mayor Harold Washington spoke to grieving students, denouncing gun violence in the city and promising a new gymnasium for the school, to be named in Wilson's honor. The gymnasium was completed in August 1987. Afterwards, Ben Wilson's number 25 jersey was traditionally worn by Simeon's best player, until it was retired. The last to wear it was Derrick Rose. Rose moved on to become one of the nation's top point guards in 2007 and eventually an NBA All-Star and league MVP for the Chicago Bulls. Nick Anderson, Deon Thomas and Calvin Brock are Simeon alumni who wore that number at the University of Illinois in honor of Wilson. In 2012 the Simeon team began wearing sneakers on the court with Wilson’s name and number 25 on them. A 30 for 30 documentary film about Benji was released in 2012 by ESPN.
Simeon competes in the Chicago Public League (CPL) and is a member of the Illinois High School Association (IHSA). Simeon is well known in the Chicago area as a high school sports powerhouse. The school sport teams are nicknamed Wolverines. Student-Athletes 2013, Simeon is the first Chicago public school to win four consecutive basketball state titles, and the second statewide. All team seniors are off to college. “I think what our team has shown is there’s excellence in the hood. You can be smart, you can be cool, you can be an athlete,” - Sheldon D. House, Simeon principal.
The boys' baseball team were Class AA and public league champions seven times 1982–83, 1984–85, 1989–90, 1997–98, 1998–99, 2002–03 and 2003–04. Simeon also has eight second place seasons. Led by the only African-American member of the Illinois High School Baseball Coaches Association Hall of Fame "trendsetter" Leroy Franklin, baseball was the first city championship in any sport for the Wolverines. More Simeon alumna have been selected in the Major League Baseball amateur draft, than any other high school in the state. After 35 years of coaching Simeon baseball, Leroy Franklin retired in 2016.
The late Alvin Scott is the second winningest H.S. football coach in the Chicago Public League. Scott, coached Simeon, from 1972 through 2004. During that time the Wolverines had 262 wins against 130 losses. The Wolverines “blue machine” were Chicago Public League champs in 1983, 1986, 2000, 2003 and 2009. Simeon has represented Chicago Public League football in the Chicago Prep Bowl for the years 1983, 1986, 2000, 2003, 2009, 2011, and 2012 while winning the Bowl in 2013, 2016 and 2017.
The girls' volleyball team were Class AA and public league champions in 1985–86, 1997–98, and 1998–99.
Simeon won the 2002 Chicago Public Schools Wrestling Championship.
The Simeon girls' basketball team were Class AA and regional champions four times 2003–04, 2004–05, 2005–06, 2006–07.
Simeon won the IHSA Class AA state boys' basketball championships three times; 1983–84, 2005–06 (with Derrick Rose), and 2006–07(with Derrick Rose). They also won the Class 4A championship four times; 2009–10, 2010–11, 2011–12, and 2012–13 (which tied Manual High School for the longest Illinois state championship title run). Simeon's boys' basketball team was ranked first in the United States in ESPN H.S.'s 2011 preseason rankings. Led by Jabari Parker and Kendrick Nunn, they won the 2012 Illinois Class 4A championship by defeating Proviso East High School. In 2013, Parker led them to another state championship when they defeated Stevenson High School. The late Bob Hambric, 1939-2009 coached boys’ basketball at Simeon for 24 years. Never having a losing season, in 1984 he coached the team to its first city and state championships.
Simeon boys are the 2016-17 Chicago Public League Basketball champs. The 68-64 win over far South Side rival Morgan Park High School is their eight-city championship. The Simeon boys’ basketball team starts season ranked number one in their conference. Simeon was victorious the third straight time as Chicago public league boys’ basketball champs, with its 69-59 win over Orr Academy (2016-2017 State Class 2A champs) in the 2018 city title game. The last boys’ basketball CPL three-peat was in 1961.
- Mary E. Flowers – 1970, Illinois State Representative
- Ben Wilson – high school basketball All American who was fatally shot near school on eve of his senior season in November 1984
- Deon Thomas – 1989, American-Israeli basketball player for University of Illinois, then Dallas Mavericks and Maccabi Tel Aviv B.C.
- Jeff Jackson - 1989, former minor league star baseball player, Philadelphia Phillies 1st-round draft pick, first Illinois player to ever win "Gatorade National Player of The Year Award"
- Johnny Mitchell – 1989, football player for Nebraska and in NFL from 1992-2003
- Nick Anderson – 1986, former NBA player, notably with Orlando Magic, No. 11 selection of 1989 NBA Draft; played for 1989 Illinois Fighting Illini Final Four team
- Wes Chamberlain – 1984, Major League Baseball outfielder 1990-95
- GLC (rapper) – 1996, rapper (G.O.O.D. Music)
- Bobby Simmons – 1998, basketball player for DePaul and in NBA from 2001-12 (San Antonio Spurs, Los Angeles Clippers)
- Kendrick Nunn – 2013, basketball player, formerly with Illinois Fighting Illini; was first freshman, with Parker, to start at Simeon, for each of four consecutive Illinois State Championship basketball teams
- Prolyfic – 1999, music producer, (So So Def)
- Calvin Brock - 2004, Chicago Tribune All-State Team, 2009 Illinois Fighting Illini men's basketball sixth man, and professional basketball player in Europe.
- Zach Norvell Jr.-2016,basketball player, currently with The Gonzaga Bulldogs men's basketball; was named West Coast Conference Newcomer of the Year
- Derrick Rose – 2007, NBA player for Minnesota Timberwolves, led Memphis to 38-2 record and 2008 NCAA championship game (later vacated); No. 1 selection of 2008 NBA Draft, 2009 NBA Rookie of the Year for Chicago Bulls, 2011 NBA Most Valuable Player
- Martez Wilson – 2007, football player, linebacker for Illinois Fighting Illini, drafted by New Orleans Saints in 2011
- Lazeric Jones – 2008, professional basketball player
- Jabari Parker – 2013, NBA player for the Washington Wizards, No. 2 selection of 2014 NBA Draft, high school basketball All American; was first freshman, with Nunn, to start at Simeon for each of four consecutive Illinois State Championship basketball teams
- Corey Ray - 2012, University of Louisville baseball, then first round pick in the 2016 MLB Draft by the Milwaukee Brewers
- Jaylon Tate – 2013, pro basketball player, formerly with Illinois Fighting Illini
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- "Simeon Career Academy retires No. 25 worn by Ben Wilson and Derrick Rose". Nba.com. Retrieved February 22, 2013.
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- This list celebrates the schools that, over the years, produced a large number of professional athletes in a wide range of sports.Janovitz, Scott. "Powerhouse High Schools That Keep Making Pros". bleacherreport.com. bleacherreport.com. Retrieved November 24, 2017.
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- Reaven, Steve. "Simeon halts Catholic League reign with OT victory". chicagotribune.com. The Chicago Tribune. Retrieved November 24, 2017.
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…a game pitting the Catholic League champs against the Public League champs, a 'Prep Bowl' city championship...
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- "Simeon tops ESPN national ranking". Espn.go.com. October 19, 2011. Retrieved February 22, 2013.
- Simeon's Dynasty continues with third straight 4A title
- Boys hoops 4A final: Four certain: Simeon wins 4th straight state title
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- Sakamoto, Bob (March 26, 2004). "2004 Chicago Tribune All-State Team (H.S. basketball)". chicagotribune.com. The Chicago Tribune. Retrieved December 21, 2017.
First team - Calvin Brock, Simeon 6-6 senior forward - the Public League's best all-around player
- "Lazeric Jones Biography". UCLABruins.com. Retrieved July 24, 2014.
- Chicago Tribune staff. "Simeon alum Corey Ray steals home in one of weekend's top plays". chicagotribune.com. Chicago Tribune. Retrieved November 24, 2017.
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