CPS kids are sad about short summer but ready to be back in school

Chicago Public School students head back Monday after one of the shortest summer breaks in memory, with the school system again moving its return earlier into August.

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Bryson Littleton backpack back-to-school Englewood High School Chicago

Bryson Littleton, 7, holds his new backpack while standing in line for ice cream Thursday during a back-to-school event at the old Englewood High School.

Pat Nabong/Sun-Times

It’s been 75 days.

That’s all kids got for summer break this year at Chicago Public Schools. They head back Monday after one of the shortest summers in memory, with the school system once again moving its fall return earlier into August.

Families have mixed feelings. Some are excited and ready to be back. Others wish they had had a chance to do more.

Gabrielle Brooks, for one, is nervous for eighth grade, her last year at Earle STEM Elementary in Englewood, where she’s been since kindergarten. But the 13-year-old has a to-do list: “Making new friends and trying new activities. I want to do track.”

Gabrielle Brooks back-to-school Englewood High School Chicago

Gabrielle Brooks, 13, is uncertain about eighth grade, her last at Earle STEM Elementary in Englewood. But she’s determined to make new friends and try track.

Pat Nabong/Sun-Times

Her mom, Adrienne Lloyd, said she’s excited about the start of classes.

“That’s not a bad thing for me. They’re the ones upset about it,” she said, laughing.

She said she’s looking forward to having more time for errands and more time to herself.

One of those late-summer chores is finding school supplies. Her two daughters picked up backpacks and supplies at a huge back-to-school bash hosted by the Englewood Community Action Council and Chicago Public Schools last week.

“Walmart, they closed them down, so it’s hard to find school supplies,” Lloyd said, referring to the big-box retailer that shut its doors in nearby Chatham last spring. “These little activities are great to have.”

Tawana Cooke’s family made the most of the short summer.

They didn’t visit Minnesota as planned, but they made trips downtown and visited the Museum of Science and Industry and Lincoln Park Zoo.

“Everything worked out fine,” she said.

Maruis Cooke back-to-school Englewood High School Chicago

Maruis Cooke, 13, thought summer went by fast. He’ll be starting at Harvard elementary Monday.

Pat Nabong/Sun-Times

Her son, 13-year-old Maruis, thought summer “went by fast.” He and his sister are moving to Harvard elementary this fall.

“Everything was fun [because] we didn’t have school,” he said. “We went downtown. We went to the mall, got some shoes for back to school.”

His sister Sariyah, 5, was happy summer’s over and is ready to get back to school. Her reasoning?

“Because my friends are nice, and I play with toys,” said Sariyah.

Lillian Powell has eight kids going back to classes Monday, ranging from second grade to 11th. She said summer was “definitely” short, and the family didn’t get to visit Six Flags Great America as they hoped because she had to work a lot.

But she and her kids said they’re still excited about school.

“Not just to get rid of them, but so they could get back to learning,” Powell said.

School supplies seemed more expensive this year, she said.

Staff tables Back to School Finkl Elementary School Little Village Chicago

Staff from various schools and organizations stand at their tables at the back-to-school event at Finkl Elementary School in Little Village on Aug. 15.

Anthony Vazquez/Sun-Times

“Folders, packs of paper, the calculator. I have high schoolers; calculators are over $100,” she said. “I work, dad works. So we buy them. But we still don’t want to be spending that much.”

One of her sons, 10-year-old Braydon Littleton, said he loved going to the beach this summer. The pool was fun, too, he said, but the snack stands make the lakefront better. Now, he’s ready to head back and see his friends, and he’d like to get back into his favorite subject, math.

Skylar Spencer ice cream backpack back-to-school event Englewood High School Chicago

Skylar Spencer, 2, eats ice cream while wearing a new backpack at the old Englewood High School.

Pat Nabong/Sun-Times

“We help each other with our homework,” Braydon said. “And we go outside and play.”

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