Apple had their act down pat Tuesday morning at Lane Tech College Prep — the location selected for their latest product launch.
Two temporary structures resembling tiny Apple stores were erected on the school’s front lawn near Western and Addison.
Apple-issued umbrellas were handed to guests waiting under a slight drizzle in single-file lines.
Smiling Apple employees dressed in green and yellow — apparently a nod to Lane Tech (not the Green Bay Packers) — answered questions and issued Apple badges on lanyards to gain access to the event.
They ushered guests into the school to take part in a “field trip.”
Chicago Public Schools are on spring break, but Zhongyi Chen, a member of Lane Tech’s award-winning robotics team, got a special invitation and arrived with a long-shot hope: walking away with some free Apple swag.
“I’m hoping there’s something cool I could get,” said Chen, of Bridgeport.
Rita Mortenson, a high school tech coach from Verona, Wis., was standing in line with a few educator pals. And she was jazzed.
“We love all things Apple,” she said.
“This is super rare,” added Joe Brennan, a middle school teacher from Buffalo Grove. “They’ve only done something like this outside the West Coast once before and that was in New York.”
Cathy Houchin, an elementary school teacher from Watertown, Wis., said she shared her friends’ enthusiasm as she pulled from her purse a Sharpie marker — and a magazine with Apple CEO Tim Cook on the cover.
“It’s for my son,” she said of her autograph aspirations.
It wasn’t immediately clear which Apple execs would be on hand.
Invited guests seemed to be mostly students or educators.
Though details on the event were sketchy, it appeared Apple intends to re-assert its commitment to getting its high-tech products into U.S. classrooms. It once dominated there, but has lost ground to Google with its Chromebooks.
Apple’s approach may include a lower-priced iPad and a variety of services tailored for students ranging from kindergarten through high school.
Kaitlynn Griffith, who works in product development for the testing company ACT in Iowa City was stoked.
“I’m really excited,” she said, adding that it was a bit of a full circle moment considering her fond memories of working on first generation Apple products as a kid.
“I believe Apple is doing really important things in education,” she said.
Apple’s choice to come to Chicago is a bit unusual for the Cupertino, Calif., based company.
But Mayor Rahm Emanuel seems to be pals with Cook and in October of last year hosted him as a guest on his weekly podcast, where Cook applauded Emanuel’s efforts to require all CPS students to take a coding class.
Contributing: Associated Press