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Chicago Vocational High School (commonly known as CVCA, Chicago Vocational Career Academy or CVS) is a public 4–year vocational high school located in the Avalon Park neighborhood on the south side of Chicago, Illinois, United States. Operated by Chicago Public Schools, Chicago Vocational High School opened in 1941. The school was barely opened when the outbreak of World War II caused a change in plan. The school would be a vocational school, but one under the control of the United States Navy, where many mechanics who would build and repair aircraft, among others, were trained. After the war, the school was instrumental in helping returning veterans who went off to war prior to graduation to earn their diploma. The school is also closely associated with a few of its notable alumni, particularly Dick Butkus.

Chicago Vocational High School (CVS)
Chicago Vocational High School Logo.png
2100 E. 87th Street


United States
Coordinates41°44′17″N 87°34′22″W / 41.7381°N 87.5729°W / 41.7381; -87.5729Coordinates: 41°44′17″N 87°34′22″W / 41.7381°N 87.5729°W / 41.7381; -87.5729
School typePublic Vocational
School districtChicago Public Schools
CEEB code140735[1]
PrincipalDouglas L. Maclin
Enrollment889 (2016–17)[2]
Campus typeUrban
Color(s)     Navy Blue
Athletics conferenceChicago Public League[3]
Team nameCavaliers[3]
AccreditationNorth Central Association of Colleges and Schools[4]



Planning for the school began in 1936 with the need for a new vocational school on the South Side of the city.[6] Construction began in 1939, and was partially funded through the Works Progress Administration.[6] Chicago Vocational School opened with an all–male class of 850 in 1940.[6][7] Enrollment was further restricted to students who had already completed a year of high school.[8] According to then Superintendent of Chicago Public Schools, Dr. William H. Johnson, the school's purpose was "the employability of Chicago boys in the heavier trades and industries."[8] The Chicago Daily Tribune noted that the new school was "regarded as the most modern and best equipped trade school in the United States."[8] In June 1941, with entry into World War II imminent, the school was turned over to the United States Navy, where the school's emphasis would be on training aviation mechanics.[6][9][10] This change from general vocational education to specific wartime training had been something anticipated as a possible future of the school shortly before it had opened.[8] Later, additional training for teachers and other civilians in national defense jobs were added. These defense related training courses permitted the Defense Priority Board to free up funds for purchasing more equipment for workshops, and to build a US$500,000 addition to the building. Construction also included a still–extant airplane hangar.[6] During this time, non–vocational courses were moved to Calumet High School.[6][11] By 1942, classes were being taught 24 hours a day to accommodate work and training schedules.[12][13][14]

February 1946 saw the academic classes return from Calumet High School, and a return to the normalcy that the school had virtually never known, with the Navy officially "handing back the keys" to the school on April 30, 1946.[15][16] 1946 also saw the admittance of the first women to the school.[12][17] CVS started offering night courses to help returning veterans who held a day job. For times, classes were being offered 24 hours a day, seven days a week to accommodate the varied hours of returning veterans.[12][18] The Navy had left behind an aircraft hangar, and a small number of relatively intact "war weary" combat aircraft, keeping aviation maintenance in the school's curriculum until 1995. This was highlighted in 1948 when students restored a Stinson Reliant monoplane to airworthy condition. Rather than dismantle the plane and shipping it to an airport, the owner pilot received permission to wheel the plane onto nearby Anthony Avenue, and take off and fly it to Midway Airport; all in front of cameras for WGN-TV.[19][20][21] the school was home to a Civil Air Patrol Cadet squadron but 1958 saw the activation of the school's ROTC program; the first to be started in a Chicago high school since 1946. The same article noted that the entire population of the school was 4,000, with the first ROTC class seeing an enrollment of 250.[22]

Timeline of Chicago VocationalEdit

  • 1936 – Community leaders team together to do the blueprint Chicago Vocational High School.
  • June 1938 – groundbreaking ceremony.
  • April 1940 – completion of construction.
  • 1941 – doors open to 300 freshman boys.
  • 1946 – girls were accepted.


When the school first opened, it was not a diploma granting institution, with students earning certificates for industry. Aside from vocational education, students only took courses in English and United States History,[8] Being a vocational and career academy, one of the core aspects of the school's curriculum is the Education-To-Careers (ETC) curriculum. Within this curriculum, students select a "major" from one of the "schools", such as the School of Construction and Manufacturing and the School of Transportation.[23]


Chicago Vocational competes in interscholastic sports as a member of the Chicago Public League (CPL), and competes in state championship series sponsored by the Illinois High School Association (IHSA). The school sponsors interscholastic athletic teams for men and women in basketball and volleyball. Men may compete in baseball, football, swimming & diving, and wrestling. Girls may compete in bowling, cross country, softball, and track & field.[24] While not sponsored by the IHSA, CVS sponsors a boys softball team which competes exclusively in the CPL. Unlike the fastpitch variety played by girls, the boys play the 16 inch variety of softball.[25][26] The school was the site of the weightlifting competition for the 1959 Pan American Games.[27]

Notable alumniEdit


  1. ^ "High School Code Search". College Board. Retrieved January 2, 2010.
  2. ^ "Chicago Public Schools: Chicago Vocational". Chicago Public Schools. Retrieved September 29, 2013.
  3. ^ a b c "Chicago (C. Vocational)". Illinois High School Association (IHSA). December 31, 2009. Retrieved January 2, 2010.
  4. ^ "Institution Summary for CVCA". AdvancED profile. North Central Association Commission on Accreditation and School Improvement. Retrieved January 2, 2010.
  5. ^ a b "Activities". Directory. Chicago Vocational Career Academy. Retrieved January 2, 2010.
  6. ^ a b c d e f Local Dream, Worldwide Influence, History of CVCA. Retrieved August 19, 2008
  7. ^ New Vocational School will be opened in 1940, January 1, 1940, Chicago Daily Tribune, p. 32. Retrieved August 19, 2008
  8. ^ a b c d e Big New School will Train for Heavy Industry, August 4, 1940, Chicago Daily Tribune, p. W2. Retrieved August 19, 2008
  9. ^ U.S. to Operate New Trade School, February 9, 1941, Paul Healy, Chicago Daily Tribune, p. SW1. Retrieved August 19, 2008
  10. ^ Turn Vocational School into U.S. Training Center, May 10, 1941, Chicago Daily Tribune, p. 8. Retrieved August 19, 2008
  11. ^ Open Vocational School Spet. 8 in Westcott Unit, July 12, 1942, Chicago Daily Tribune, p. SW5. Retrieved August 18, 2008
  12. ^ a b c It's Always Something, History of CVCA; accessed 19 August 2008
  13. ^ Bares Shortage of Teachers for Defense Trades, January 2, 1941, Chicago Daily Tribune, p. 6. Retrieved August 19, 2008
  14. ^ Classes to Meet Round the Clock at Trade School, April 5, 1942, Chicago Daily Tribune, p. S6. Retrieved August 19, 2008
  15. ^ Out of the Navy, May 1, 1946, Chicago Daily Tribune, p. 4; Retrieved August 19, 2008
  16. ^ School Reopens to Give Civilians Training Center, February 24, 1946, Chicago Daily Tribune, p. SW4. Retrieved August 19, 2008
  17. ^ City to Admit Girl Students to Vocational, August 25, 1946, Chicago Daily Tribune, p. SW13; Retrieved August 19, 2008
  18. ^ S. Side Evening School Classes Begin Monday, September 8, 1946, Chicago Daily Tribune, p. SW4; Retrieved August 19, 2008
  19. ^ Rebuilt Plane Flown From Pavement at Vocational School, April 17, 1948, Chicago Daily Tribune, p. 12; Retrieved August 20, 2008
  20. ^
  21. ^ Welcome Home, History of CVCA (note: the school website lists 1947, but the reuse of the same photo, and the date on the newspaper articles is definitively 1948); accessed 20 August 2008
  22. ^ "R.O.T.C. Unit at Vocational Attracts 250", March 6, 1958, Chicago Daily Tribune, p. S1. Retrieved August 20, 2008
  23. ^ "Schools of the Education-To Careers curriculum". Retrieved August 19, 2008
  24. ^ Athletic offerings at CVCA
  25. ^ "Boys Softball in Illinois and its Origins from Indoor Baseball", Robert Pruter, Illinois Historic series, @ Retrieved August 19, 2008
  26. ^ "A Brief History of Boys Softball in the Chicago Public League" Archived September 6, 2012, at, September 29, 2006, Neil Hernandez. Retrieved August 19, 2008
  27. ^ Lyke, Bill (August 29, 1959). "Drive Out to the Pan-Am Gamnes!". Chicago Tribune. pp. B1. Retrieved August 14, 2009.[permanent dead link]
  28. ^ "Michael Baisden". Chicago Public School Alumni Honor Roll. Retrieved August 18, 2008
  29. ^ The Michael Baisden Show. @ABC radio Network. Retrieved August 18, 2008
  30. ^ "Radio Host Michael Baisden to Receive Keepers of the Dream Award on 40th Anniversary...", April 2, 2008, Thomson Reuters. Retrieved August 18, 2008
  31. ^ Whitehorne, Jelani (February 4, 2008). "Yung Berg on Sexy Ladies and what he has in store for them this year". interview. Chicago Flame-Inferno. Retrieved January 2, 2009. JW: You represent Chicago in your "Sexy Lady Remix." What part of Chicago are you from? YB: I'm from the Southside of Chicago. I attended CVCA and Curie for high school.[permanent dead link]
  32. ^ "2009–10 NCAA Men's Basketball Records" (PDF). 2009–10 NCAA Men's Basketball Media Guide. National Collegiate Athletic Association. 2009. Retrieved October 17, 2010.
  33. ^ Bissinger, H. G. (July 14, 1991). "For many, the lure of the promised land of the NBA never fades". The Chicago Tribune. Retrieved October 17, 2010.
  34. ^ a b "High School of the Week: Vocational, 25 April 2007, Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved August 18, 2008. Retrieved August 18, 2008". Archived from the original on December 22, 2007. Retrieved February 15, 2011.
  35. ^ "Dick Butkus biography". Retrieved August 18, 2008
  36. ^ Dick Butkus Pro Football Hall of Fame biography. Retrieved August 18, 2008
  37. ^ "Dick Butkus". College Football Hall of Fame. Football Foundation. Retrieved August 18, 2008.
  38. ^ Marvin Freeman stats Retrieved August 18, 2008
  39. ^ Marvin Freeman stats Retrieved August 18, 2008
  40. ^ "Marvin Freeman biography at Chicago Public School Alumni Honor Roll". Retrieved August 18, 2008
  41. ^ "DeMarlo Hale bio". @Boston Red Sox website. Retrieved August 18, 2008
  42. ^ "Juwan Howard" Archived September 1, 2010, at the Wayback Machine Retrieved August 18, 2008
  43. ^ "Juwan Howard" biography at Chicago Public School Alumni Honor Roll. Retrieved August 18, 2008
  44. ^ "Cleaning Up" Archived July 16, 2012, at, February 26, 1996, Johnette Howard, Sports Illustrated. Retrieved August 18, 2008
  45. ^ Zucker, Joseph. "Juwan Howard Agrees to 5-Year Contract as Michigan Basketball Coach". Bleacher Report. Retrieved May 30, 2019.
  46. ^ "My student, Bernie Mac", August 14, 2008, David McGrath, Chicago Tribune. Retrieved August 18, 2008
  47. ^ a b "High School of the Week: Vocational" Archived December 22, 2007, at the Wayback Machine, April 25, 2007, Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved August 18, 2008
  48. ^
  49. ^
  50. ^ "About Strings". Retrieved April 19, 2018.
  51. ^ VP "Keena Turner bio". Retrieved August 18, 2008
  52. ^ Keena Turner biography at Chicago Public School Alumni Honor Roll. Retrieved August 18, 2008
  53. ^ Keena Turner stats Retrieved August 18, 2008
  54. ^ Keena Turner stats and bio Archived July 8, 2011, at the Wayback Machine Retrieved August 18, 2008
  55. ^ Garcia, Marlen (December 30, 2007). Illinois QB Juice Williams shoulders heavy load; USA Today; accessed 8 January 2009
  56. ^ "Zorich follows a less traveled path"[permanent dead link], July 18, 2008, Steve Lowe, South Bend Tribune. Retrieved August 18, 2008
  57. ^ "Chris Zorich biography", Chicago Public School Alumni Honor Roll. Retrieved August 18, 2008

External linksEdit