South Chicago suburbs Park Forest and Chicago Heights have renamed two area schools in tribute to President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama.
Those Cook County cities, which comprise School District 163, announced on Monday that Beacon Hill School, grades 4-8, now goes by the Barack Obama School of Leadership and Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM), while Forest Trail School, 4-8, has been named Michelle Obama School of Technology and the Arts (STARS).
"The Obama name was selected for the two schools because the values that the First Family models are unparalleled precedents and are values that our students strive to emulate. I believe we are the first schools in the nation to honor the First Family in this manner," Joyce Carmine, district superintendent, said in a statement. "School District 163 has a strong legacy of promoting innovation and the reconfiguration and creation of the two Obama schools will continue this legacy."
Both "concept" schools will adhere to Common Core standards of learning that spells out what children K-12 should know by the end of each grade. The STEM school will focus on curricula related to math and the sciences, while the STARS school will focus on theater, music and the visual arts.
Students residing within the district can apply to whichever school reflects their interests, and those not accepted into their chosen school may re-apply in two years, Carmine said.
Meanwhile, in the city proper, a selective enrollment school to be named for President Obama was commissioned earlier this year to open in the 2017-18 school year on Chicago Park District property near Skinner North Classical School on the city's North Side.