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Morgan Park Academy (MPA) is a coeducational, college preparatory, independent day school serving pre-kindergarten through 12th grade . It is located in the Morgan Park neighborhood on the south side of Chicago, Illinois. Founded in 1873, Morgan Park Academy was formerly known as Mt. Vernon Military Academy, Morgan Park Military Academy (MPMA), briefly as the Illinois Military Academy, and Morgan Park Academy of the University of Chicago. Between 1892 and 1906 MPA had a very close connection with the University of Chicago, with its graduates being specifically groomed to enter the recently founded university.

Morgan Park Academy
2153 W. 111th Street


United States
Coordinates41°41′25″N 87°40′33″W / 41.69038°N 87.67574°W / 41.69038; -87.67574
MottoIndependent Thinkers, Global Leaders
Head of schoolMercedes Z. Sheppard[1]
AgePre-K to Grade 12
Student to teacher ratio8:1
HousesBlake, Malcolm, Norton, Theodore, Withington
School colour(s)     maroon
Athletics conferenceIndependent School League
School roll430
AffiliationNational Association of Independent Schools



The school was founded as Mt. Vernon Military and Classical Academy in 1873 as a "proprietary school" owned by the headmaster, and run as a for–profit institution. Students paid for room and board, as well as for education, uniforms, and maintenance.

While the school was renamed Morgan Park Military Academy in 1877, the school was briefly (1890–92) incorporated as the Illinois Military Academy.

In 1892, William Rainey Harper, acting as the first president of the University of Chicago, joined the recently formed Owen Academy to the school. The Academy's land was purchased, and all operations were moved there, renaming the school "Morgan Park Academy of the University of Chicago", where students were to be specifically prepared for entrance into the new university. At this time, the school was integrated, made non–sectarian, and was made co–ed.

Teachers at the school were considered a part of the University of Chicago faculty, instead of being considered separate. Among the faculty was the school's football coach, Amos Alonzo Stagg, who also coached at the University.

In 1906, the University of Chicago ended its relationship with the school. The school reverted to an all–male military school.

During the Great Depression the school expanded, creating a junior college, and extending summer classes to students from nearby public and parochial schools.

In 1958, the school ended its time as a military school, finally becoming Morgan Park Academy. Girls were readmitted in 1959, and the boarding aspect of the school was phased out over ten years.[3]


The Lower School runs from pre-kindergarten through grade 5. The curriculum emphasizes problem-solving and higher-order thinking rather than rote learning and drill. Students are involved in at least one major dramatic performance per year. Computers are used in the classroom and students develop technology skills in regular lab classes.

The Middle School includes grades 6 through 8. It emphasizes independent learning, and offers a foundation in English, mathematics, science, music, drama, art, physical education, social studies, world languages and technology. At this level, the faculty work with students to teach them to organize learning and absorb information into a meaningful whole that supports independent learning. Each Middle School student has a faculty advisor with whom he or she meets in a small group and individually to discuss academic, social and personal concerns. The purpose of the advisor group is to strengthen the student's role within the Academy community by allowing advisees the opportunity to make personal connections, develop a group affiliation, and build their academic and interpersonal skills within the group. Co-curricular opportunities include cultural immersion trips that supplement the Spanish and French programs, spring trips with their class, sports activities (soccer, basketball, softball, baseball, volleyball) and a variety of clubs (Math, Science, French, Spanish, Geography and Chess). Middle School students also have the opportunity to be involved in the Leadership Council that plans and organizes service and social activities for the school year.

The Upper School, which encompasses Grades 9 through 12, completes the program of college preparation. As students transition from the Middle to the Upper School, learning continues to be authentic and engaging with curriculum offerings at three levels: college preparatory, honors, and advanced placement. The Upper School program provides an excellent academic curriculum as well as varied athletic, artistic and leadership opportunities. It fields a variety of athletic teams; provides opportunities in the performing arts, including band, chorus and theater productions; and offers numerous co-curricular offerings to develop leadership ability. Students compete in divisional, regional, and statewide academic and athletic competitions, including previous recognition in the Worldwide Youth in Science and Engineering (WYSE) and Rube Goldberg contests. The school offers 13 Advanced Placement courses.


The school fields interscholastic teams for Upper School and Middle School students in baseball, softball, boys' basketball, girls' basketball, boys' soccer, girls' soccer and girls' volleyball. Upper School boys and girls can also compete on varsity tennis and golf teams.[4]

Known as the Warriors, the school's junior varsity and varsity teams compete interscholastically as members of the Independent School League, which comprises independent private schools in the Chicago area. The school also competes in state championship tournaments sponsored by the Illinois High School Association (IHSA).

The following teams finished in the top four of their respective state tournaments sponsored by the IHSA.[5]

  • Golf (boys): 4th place (1955–56)
  • Soccer (boys): 4th place (2006–07)
  • Track & Field (boys): 4th place (1915–16)

While the school no longer sponsors football, in its early days Morgan Park Academy produced several notable football teams. Amos Alonzo Stagg, the coach at the University of Chicago, coached the school's football team for a time.[3] On November 23, 1901, the school became the first Illinois school to travel outside the border states to play a football game, playing University High School of Cleveland to a 0–0 tie.[6] Three alumni are members of the College Football Hall of Fame (two as coaches, one as a player).

Notable alumniEdit


  1. ^ "Head of School Announcement". Morgan Park Academy. July 23, 2014.
  2. ^ "Morgan Park Academy 2016–17 tuition". Archived from the original on 2016-07-07. Retrieved 2016-07-01.
  3. ^ a b History of Morgan Park Academy Archived 2008-06-23 at the Wayback Machine
  4. ^ "Morgan Park Academy: Athletics". Archived from the original on 2011-12-18. Retrieved 2012-05-07.
  5. ^ IHSA record page for Morgan Park Academy
  6. ^ A Century of Intersectional and Interstate Football Contests 1900–1999, Robert Pruter, @Illinois H.S.toric
  7. ^ Ben Benbrook at the College Football Hall of Fame
  8. ^ 'Illinois Blue Book 1959-1960,' Biographical Sketch of Albert E. Bennett, pg. 170-171
  9. ^ "Local Boy Eats Good", Evan Swan (Medill News Service), Oct 12, 2007, Southwest Observer
  10. ^ "So many hot dogs: competitor eats to win", Kevin Olson, The Regional News
  11. ^ "BUCK, Ellsworth Brewer, (1892 - 1970)". Biographical Directory of the United States Congress. Retrieved November 8, 2013.
  12. ^ "LLOYD BURDICK". Archived from the original on September 9, 2015. Retrieved October 10, 2015.
  13. ^ "Richard M. Chitwood". Texas Legislative Reference Library. Retrieved July 31, 2015.
  14. ^ List of management of The Walt Disney Company
  15. ^ Edward Eicher bio
  16. ^ "Reflections from the Dome: Jesse Harper", Sept, 2001,
  17. ^ "Maestro in the Making", Sarah Desprat, Jan, 2008 Chicago Magazine
  18. ^ Maestro Harrell
  19. ^ Paula Newsome

External linksEdit