Mayor Daley And School Officials Dedicate New Langston Hughes Elementary School In Roseland

Facility Provides State-of-the-Art Learning Environment For Students with Special Needs

Mayor’s Press Office (312) 744-3334
CPS Office of Communications 773-553-1620

Mayor Richard M. Daley, along with city leaders, school officials, and community members, today celebrated the opening of the new Langston Hughes Elementary School, located at 240 W. 104th St.

Langston Hughes School, a new neighborhood school designed for 870 students, is one of five new schools that have opened this school year under the Modern Schools Across Chicago initiative, which is paid for entirely by city funding.

“I have asked our school leaders to better support our neighborhood schools, which are the core of our school system. The vast majority of our students attend them and we have a moral responsibility to help them succeed,” Daley said in a news conference held at the school.

The Pre-K through 8th grade school has more than 103,000 square feet, and includes 10 pre-K and Kindergarten classrooms, 19 standard academic classrooms, a science lab, a music room, an art room, two playgrounds, walking paths and play fields, and a gymnasium.

In addition, the school’s two green roofs, its barrier-free Discovery Garden of native plantings, watered with rain captured in a cistern, and its high reflective pavement to reduce urban heat island effect were designed to achieve the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Silver certification.

The school also has a library with a Media Resource Center, kitchen and dining facilities, and a Nurses/Student Support Services suite.

The new Hughes building provides substantial facilities and equipment upgrades for the students of both the former Langston Hughes Elementary School and the Benjamin O. Davis Developmental Center, which served students with disabilities and special needs.
Some of the Hughes School’s unique features were specifically designed for its students with disabilities.

Those features include:

  • Snoezelen room: A multi-sensory environment that contains equipment designed to stimulate the senses and elicit visual, tactual, auditory, and olfactory responses from students to encourage them to participate more actively in their education. Snoezelen rooms are typically darkened, but may utilize visually stimulating lights, projection displays and fiber optic strips that change color, as well as ball pits, textured materials, scented materials, and soothing music.
  • Instructional classrooms for special needs students: These classrooms are larger than standard academic classrooms in order to easily accommodate the equipment for special needs students. Both these instructional classrooms and the standard academic classrooms are wheel-chair accessible.
  • Discovery classroom: An environment that provides opportunities for students to receive physical therapy as well as enhance and practice their fine motor skills and gross motor skills in a safe area with limited distractions. Therapeutic equipment within the classroom includes bolsters, adaptive chairs, manipulatives, such as tactile balls for fine motor activities that aid hand-eye coordination, and Lite Gate, an ambulation device.
  • Barrier-free Discovery Garden: A peaceful outdoor area designed to stimulate the senses, accessible to students who use wheelchairs. The plants in the garden, which are at wheelchair height, have been chosen for their bright colors, distinct fragrances, and variety of textures to encourage tactile exploration. Students can also enhance their Earth Science skills by classifying plants according to these attributes.
  • Wheelchair and mobilization device storage: A number of nooks and recesses within the hallways to “park” wheelchairs and mobilization devices to maximize classroom space. These storage areas also allow students the opportunity to be out of their wheelchairs and positioned in a variety of chairs and standers, according to their needs, for most of the day. The storage areas are easily accessible to teachers.

“The Langston Hughes School represents a great step forward in our ability to serve students with special needs and to serve all the parents and children of the Roseland community,” Daley said.

Chicago Public Schools, through the Office of Specialized Services (OSS), provides students and parents assessment and support to determine eligibility for special education services and to educate students with disabilities in the school district. These specialized services are provided according to the students’ Individualized Education Program (IEP).

Students with disabilities and special needs may also be eligible for other support and services provided by the district, such as assistive technology, which uses equipment to increase, maintain and improve functional capabilities, and extended school year, which provides instruction during summer breaks to help maintain skills.

All students with disabilities have the opportunity to receive services in classrooms with their non-disabled peers, or in smaller settings with other students with disabilities, as determined by their IEP.

Student disabilities may include:  autism, cognitive impairments, developmental delays, emotional disturbance, hearing impairment, visual impairment, deafness, blindness, a learning disability, multiple disabilities, physical impairment, traumatic brain injury, speech and/or language impairment, and other health impairment.

“We are at a turning point for Chicago’s public schools. What we do now will have implications for years to come. After years of steady improvement, we need to take our schools to the next level if we’re to graduate students who are prepared to compete in the global economy and succeed in life,” Daley said.

“This new school will help us to do that,” he said.