Afternoon Edition: CPS students are in a mental health crisis. These programs want to help.

Today’s update is about an eight-minute read that will brief you on the day’s biggest stories.

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Two girls hang birdhouses made as part of an environmental club sponsored by the Brighton Park Neighborhood Council and funded by Chicago Public Schools. The club is among several programs helping students amid a widespread mental health crisis.

Kathleen Hayes

Good afternoon, Chicago. ✶

What is the song of the summer?

Is it Kylie Minogue’s “Padam Padam?” Lil Durk’s “All My Life?” Is it this parody of 1990s European dance songs? OK, it’s probably not that last one.

Songs like Prince’s “When Doves Cry” or Luis Fonsi’s “Despacito” have had their moments in the summer sun, seemingly played everywhere you went that year. But now, with so many ways beyond radio and TV to discover music, big summer song moments might be a thing of the past.

Maybe the right question is, what is your song of the summer?

If you’re still looking for one, look no further than Lollapalooza. The festival’s genre-bending headliners include Billie Eilish, Karol G, Kendrick Lamar and more, each pulling from catalogs stacked with great songs.

Before the fest’s kickoff Thursday, my colleague Katelyn Haas has shared her predictions for the set lists she thinks each artist will perform — and packaged them in playlists you can explore now.

But before you jam, here are the stories you need to know this afternoon.

⏱️: A 7-minute read

— Matt Moore, newsletter reporter (@MattKenMoore)


School programs helping students build mental health coping skills

Reporting by Kathleen Hayes

Programs center students’ well-being: A number of programs are being implemented by Chicago Public Schools in order to address the mental health of its students, which experts say has reached a crisis point. For example, a recent University of Chicago Education Lab survey of CPS found 38% of ninth- through 11th-grade girls exhibited signs of PTSD, double the rate experienced by military service members returning from Iraq and Afghanistan.

Helping students build community: Working on Womanhood is a group counseling program that gives girls opportunities to meet and talk about problems. WOW works with the behavioral health team in 57 CPS middle and high schools to identify girls with high stress levels. An evaluation of WOW found that school-based group counseling programs can significantly reduce post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety and depression among Black and Latina girls.

Developing coping skills: WOW senior counselor Keisha Mathew said a major goal of the program is reducing stress through coping skills and empowering the girls.

“We always talk about what’s in their [coping] toolkit,” Mathew said. “Is it grounding? Is it talk therapy? Is it one-on-one or group? Is it art therapy?”




Janice Weston enters the Dirksen Federal Courthouse for her guilty plea Wednesday.

Ashlee Rezin/Sun-Times

  • Late CEO’s sister pleads guilty in collapse of Bridgeport bank: More than five years after federal authorities closed a Bridgeport bank following the sudden death of its CEO John F. Gembara, his sister Janice Weston pleaded guilty Wednesday to fabricating records that might have kept regulators from uncovering a massive embezzlement scheme.
  • Northwestern football hazing scandal grows: Another former Northwestern University football player is suing the school, the seventh since NU’s hazing scandal went public last month. Ramon Diaz alleges he endured racism and sexual harassment during his time on the team nearly 20 years ago, prompting him to attempt suicide.
  • Mail carrier shot, another robbed: The U.S. Postal Service is offering a $50,000 reward after a mail carrier was shot during an attempted robbery in Chicago Monday and another carrier was robbed minutes later, about 3 miles away.
  • Arabic-language summer camp connects youth to roots: Arabic camp at the Syrian Community Network in Edgewater is a five-week program for kids. The goal is to connect campgoers, many with parents who are Syrian refugees, to the language of their family’s homeland.


Teresa Magaña, artist


Teresa Magaña stands outside Pilsen Arts & Community House. Magaña is the co-founder of the nonprofit gallery.

Ari Mejia/Vocalo Radio

Reporting by Ari Mejia

Teresa Magaña is a Chicago artist who dedicates much of her time and energy to supporting local and international creative communities.

Magaña is the co-founder of Pilsen Arts & Community House, or PACH, a nonprofit gallery offering emerging artists resources and connections.

PACH acts as a dynamic platform, promoting local artists and fostering community engagement while nurturing creativity in the Pilsen community and beyond.

Magaña’s says her deep connection with her Chicana heritage shines through all facets of her work, including the work she does as a mixed-media artist, educator, curator and community organizer.

“It’s always in that process, finding connections of my own lineage of females, in our families through my ancestors,” Magaña’s says. “I feel like we do come from very strong mujeres, strong chingonas. I feel like there’s this connection with how Latina women are viewed in this very central way, oftentimes.

“But we’re more than just that, right? There’s a lot of history of why we’re so beautiful.”




Jingmai O’Connor, the Field Museum’s associate curator of fossil reptiles, speaks about the museum’s second installment of “The Changing Face of Science” exhibition in Chicago.

Alex Wroblewski/For the Sun-Times

Field Museum redefines the face of science with new exhibition

Reporting by Jacquelyne Germain

The Field Museum’s “The Changing Face of Science,” exhibition is highlighting the stories of women and people of color who work at the Field Museum as scientists studying various subjects.

The second installment of the exhibition, set to open to the public Friday, highlights the story and career path of “punk rock paleontologist” Jingmai O’Connor, the Field Museum’s associate curator of fossil reptiles — known more commonly as the museum’s dinosaur curator.

O’Connor got the title of “punk rock paleontologist” from a journalist who coined the phrase after interviewing her and learning she named an ancient bird fossil she discovered in China after Greg Graffin, the lead singer of the L.A. punk band Bad Religion. O’Connor said the title has stuck ever since.

First opened last summer, the exhibition aims to change perceptions of who scientists are and what they do while inspiring young people to get interested in science careers, said Lauren Boegen, exhibitions project manager at the museum.

O’Connor’s installment is the second of six total installments that make up the larger “The Changing Face of Science” exhibition.

“If you told me as a grad student that 15 years from now I’m going to be curator at the Field Museum and have an exhibit about me, I’d be like, ‘Get out of here,’” O’Connor said.



What’s your song of the summer? Tell us why.

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Editor: Ellery Jones

Newsletter reporter: Matt Moore

Copy editor: Angie Myers

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