Open main menu

Wendell Phillips Academy High School

  (Redirected from Phillips Academy High School)

Wendell Phillips Academy High School is a public 4–year high school located in the Bronzeville neighborhood on the south side of Chicago, Illinois, United States. Phillips is part of the Chicago Public Schools district and is managed by the Academy for Urban School Leadership. It is named for the noted American abolitionist Wendell Phillips. It was the first predominantly African-American high school in Chicago. The school opened in 1904. In 2010, Phillips became a turnaround school in an effort to lower the school's one–year dropout rate of 66.8 percent.[3] The school received the Spotlight on Technology award from the Chicago Public Schools leadership technology summit in 2013.[4] The school's attendance boundary includes areas of the South Side, Chinatown, and portions of the Chicago Loop.[5]

Wendell Phillips Academy High School
Wendell Phillips Academy High School is located in Illinois
Wendell Phillips Academy High School
Wendell Phillips Academy High School
244 East Pershing Road


Coordinates41°49′28″N 87°37′10″W / 41.82448°N 87.61945°W / 41.82448; -87.61945Coordinates: 41°49′28″N 87°37′10″W / 41.82448°N 87.61945°W / 41.82448; -87.61945
School typePublic Secondary
Motto"The premiere south side school of choice."
School districtChicago Public Schools
CEEB code141375[1]
PrincipalMatthew G. Sullivan
Enrollment616 (2019–2020)[2]
Color(s)     Blue
Athletics conferenceChicago Public League
Team nameWildcats
AccreditationNorth Central Association of Colleges and Schools


Phillips is a High School Transformation and Advancement Via Individual Determination (AVID) school and offers Advanced Placement (AP) courses as well as honors courses as part of its academic curriculum. It provides a positive learning environment through an academic curriculum promoting literacy and inquiry-based learning. AP courses are offered in U.S. history, Biology, and English. Honors courses are offered in 15 subjects. Education To Careers (ETC) programs are offered in fashion design, graphic communications, and drafting. Phillips also features a Junior Air Force Reserve Officers Training Corps (JAFROTC) program[6] and a health clinic to serve the needs of its students.[7] Enrollment is open to students living in its attendance area; if space is available, students outside the area may apply.

Extracurricular activitiesEdit

In addition to its longstanding sports program, Phillips offers students the opportunity to participate in Student Council, Air Force (AFJROTC), a school Newspaper Club, the Book Club, the Culture Club, a Music Production Project, an Entrepreneurial Project, Junior Achievement, yearbook, and a debate Team.

Community partnersEdit

Phillips community and university partners include the University of Chicago, Illinois Institute of Technology, Ada S. McKinley Educational Talent Search, City Year Chicago, Dawson Skills Center, Carnegie Learning, Field Museum, Kaplan, Center for New Horizons, and Project Strive.[7]


Phillips opened September 5, 1904[8] and was named for Wendell Phillips (1811–1884), the staunch abolitionist and advocate for Native Americans. He was one of the leading members of the American Anti-Slavery Society. The high school traces its history to 1875, when South Division High School was opened as the South Side's first public high school. When its new Phillips campus opened in 1904, the school was still predominantly attended by the wealthy children of Chicago's South Side mansions, but this soon changed. Changing demographics resulted from the Great Migration, by which millions of African Americans left the rural South for northern and midwestern industrial cities, including Chicago. By 1907, 90 black students had enrolled at Phillips.[9] Early yearbooks portray a racial mix in the student body, but by 1920 the school had become Chicago's first predominantly African-American high school.[10] During this period, the school's winning basketball team was drafted by Abe Saperstein, a Chicago Parks and Recreation employee,[11] to form the nucleus of a group that later became the Harlem Globetrotters.[8][10] They were initially called "the Savoy Big Five," taking their new name from Bronzeville's Savoy Ballroom.[12] Those players included Tommy Brookings, Hillary Brown, George Easter, William "Razor" Frazier, Roosevelt Hudson, Inman "Big Jack" Jackson, Lester Johnson, Byron "Fat" Long, William "Kid" Oliver, Al "Runt" Pullins, Randolph Ramsey, Ted Strong and Walter "Toots" Wright, all of whom were formerly students at Phillips High.[13]

Other informationEdit

In 1929, the Board of Education voted to build a new Wendell Phillips High School (which later became DuSable High School) at 49th and Wabash Avenue. Economic conditions during the Great Depression slowed the work on the building; it was finally completed February 4, 1935. The old school "mysteriously" caught fire January 28, 1935, making it necessary for the students to move to the new school in February 1935. Now located at 244 E. Pershing Road in the Bronzeville neighborhood of Chicago, the school has produced a number of notable African-American alumni, including Nat "King" Cole, singing legend and charter member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame; the singer Sam Cooke; and George E. Johnson, Sr., founder of Johnson Products (he was a cosmetics manufacturer and his was the first African-American owned firm to be listed on the American Stock Exchange).[14] Constructed in 1904 in the Classical Revival style, the school building was designated a Chicago Landmark on May 7, 2003 in time for its 100th anniversary.[15] Phillips was used as the setting and shooting location for the movie Save the Last Dance, released in 2001.[16]


  • Spencer R. Smith (1904–1917)
  • Charles H. Perrine (1917–1921)
  • Albert W. Evans (1921–1926)
  • Chauncey C. Willard (1926–1935)
  • William H. Page (1935–1937)
  • William Abrams (1937–1939)
  • Maudelle B. Bousfield (1939–1950)
  • Virginia F. Lewis (1950–1961)
  • Robert E. Lewis (1961–1965)
  • Alonzo A. Crim (1965–1968)
  • William Finch (1968–1971)
  • Daniel W. Caldwell (1971–1975)
  • Ernestine D. Curry (1975–1990)
  • Juanita T. Tucker (1990–1997)
  • Beverly LaCoste (1997–2001)
  • Bertha Buchanan (2002–2004)
  • Euel Bunton (2004–2010)
  • Terrence A. Little (2010)
  • Devon Q. Horton (2010–2014)
  • Matthew G. Sullivan (2014–)


Phillips competes in the Chicago Public League (CPL) and is a member of the Illinois High School Association (IHSA). The schools sports teams are nicknamed Wildcats. Phillips athletic teams have had a history of success. The boys' basketball team won the state Class AA title in 1974–75 and city of Chicago champions in 1976. The boys' track and field team placed first in 1901–02, 1905–06, 1942–43, 1949–50, 1950–51 and 1961–62.[17] The girls' basketball team were regional champions in 2012–13. [1] The 2014–15 Wildcats football team was the IHSA class 4A runner–up, making them the second CPS program and the first in 32 years to play in an IHSA football championship game. In the 2015–16 season, Phillips returned to the 4A finals and defeated Belleville Althoff 51–7 to become the first Chicago public league team to win a state championship in football, and for the second time in three years, they became the state champions again in 2017 in the 5A division, defeating Dunlap 33-7.

Notable alumniEdit

Notable staffEdit


  1. ^ "High School Code Search". College Board. Retrieved 15 October 2013.
  2. ^ Chicago Public Schools: Phillips
  3. ^ Hard work starts at Chicago high school turnarounds - Catalyst Chicago (September 7, 2010)
  4. ^ Chicago Public Schools: Spotlight on Technology Award
  5. ^ "West/Central/South High Schools" (Archive). Chicago Public Schools. May 17, 2013. Retrieved on May 25, 2015.
  6. ^ "Chicago Air Force JROTC Schools". Chicago JROTC. Retrieved 2008-06-15.
  7. ^ a b "Wendell Phillips Academy High School". Chicago Public Schools. Retrieved 2008-06-14.
  8. ^ a b c "House Resolution". Illinois General Assembly. 2004. Retrieved 2008-06-14.
  9. ^ McCants Sr., Raymond. "A Brief History of Wendell Phillips Highschool". Wendell Phillips High School Centennial Committee. Retrieved 2008-06-15.
  10. ^ a b c "Wendell Phillips High School". Chicago Department of Planning and Development. 2003-05-07. Retrieved 2008-06-14.
  11. ^ Sanders, Carla (2004-01-09). "Globetrotters Commemoration Day". Wendell Phillips High School Centennial Committee. Retrieved 2008-06-15.
  12. ^ "Chicago's Globetrotters". WTTW - Chicago. Retrieved 2008-06-15.
  13. ^ "All-Time Roster". Harlem Globetrotters. Archived from the original on 2008-10-28. Retrieved 2008-06-14.
  14. ^ "George E. Johnson was a natural businessman". African American Registry. Archived from the original on 2007-09-30. Retrieved 2007-05-18.
  15. ^ "Wendell Phillips High School". City of Chicago. Retrieved 2007-05-18.
  16. ^ Save The Last Dance
  17. ^ IHSA Chicago (Phillips)
  18. ^ Rhoades, Mark (2006-10-24). "Illinois Hall of Fame: Gwendolyn Brooks". the Illinois State Society. Retrieved 2008-06-15.
  19. ^ "Hillery Brown statistics". Just Sports Stats. Retrieved March 21, 2016.
  20. ^ Lewis, George E. (2008). A Power Stronger Than Itself: The AACM and American Experimental Music. University of Chicago Press.
  21. ^ Smith, Sam (February 17, 1985). "Former Loyola Star Home Among Farrakhan's Flock". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved August 26, 2012.
  22. ^ a b c d Bell, Taylor (2008-04-09). "Phillips Wildcats". Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved 2008-06-14.
  23. ^ Wilson Frost, trailblazing black alderman, dies at 92
  24. ^ Gregg, Lucius (2007-04-17). "Lucius Perry Gregg". The History Makers. Retrieved 2012-12-29.
  25. ^ "Chronology of African American Military Service: World War I to World War II". Redstone. Archived from the original on 2008-06-10. Retrieved 2008-06-14. Alonzo Parham entered the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, the first black cadet to be accepted since the graduation of Charles R. Young in 1889.
  26. ^ "Buddy Young, Ex-Football Star". The New York Times. 1983-09-06.
  27. ^ "Gene Ammons: The Jug". biographic sketch. National Public Radio. 20 February 2008. Retrieved 2 January 2010. Some of Ammons' stylistic versatility can undoubtedly be traced to his Chicago home ... He also learned from the renowned "Captain" Walter Dyett, the musical director of Chicago's DuSable High School. Dyett was instrumental in launching the careers of many other DuSable alumni, including the legendary crooner and pianist Nat "King" Cole and fellow saxophonist Johnny Griffin.
  28. ^ Saluting Capt. Walter Dyett, who made stars at DuSable: Chicago Tribune (August 21, 2013)

External linksEdit