Chicago Works Grant

We are excited to share that LaSalle II has been selected as one of 21 semi finalists out of 500 applications for the Chicago Works Grant. Winners are awarded up to 1.5 million dollars to renovate public spaces.

As we are all well aware, the school outdoor space is in poor condition and subject to frequent flooding, making the playfield unusable and closed off during recess and Physical Education classes. Further, the playground is popular with the local community. The playfield also experiences damage when used during muddy or wet conditions which causes continued degradation. In addition to the school population, the LaSalle II grounds are open to the public and is popular with the local community for outdoor play and exercise.

The purpose of this project is to improve the usability of the space and better organize the remaining space to allow for safe play and exploration by the students and community. When fully funded, the project will replace the grass playfield with synthetic turf, create a 1/8 mile running track encircling the playground, better organize the basketball courts to get a full court size and half court size, add seating, and add lighting. The synthetic turf will be striped for U-8 regulation soccer and a kick ball/soft ball diamond with a backstop. These playfield improvements will allow the students and community to enjoy a mud free area for active play including soccer, kick ball, softball, and exercise. The LaSalle II playfield will continue to be open to the community.

In order to help make this plan a reality, there are a few things we need from our school community.

  • Sign the petition here and share with others! The more signatures the better.
  • Save the date for the virtual community meeting on 10/21 at 6pm. You can sign-up here.

Winners will be announced in December to stay tuned for more updates!

New Art Installation!

We have new artwork that has been installed in the school. A huge thank you to the PTO for fundinf this project. We appreciate your support!

Sixth Grade Gardening

From Ms Gipson:

[testimonial name=”Rudyard Kipling” size=”small” type=”simple”]

In the Neolithic Age savage warfare did I wage
For food and fame and woolly horses’ pelt;
i was singer to my clan in that dim, red Dawn of Man,
And sang of all we fought and feared and felt.


The 6th grade students are studying how nomadic civilizations of the Neolithic Age began to settle in one place. The children did this by exploring the sequence of events that had to happen for this culture to stabilize in a permanent location.

Students learned that one of the first things that had to occur was, people needed to learn to grow their own food. This meant they had to notice that seeds become plants and those same seeds could be harvested and planted. Then these peoples had to learn to till the earth. Inner city children know very little about gardening, working in the earth to prepare it for planting.


In an effort to help them experience some simile of what these ancient peoples learned, the 6th graders had the opportunity to till the earth this week in the garden. These photos show how hard they discovered working in a garden is/was.


LaSalle II Celebrates Global Emphasis with Playground & Mural

LaSalle II Celebrates It’s Global Emphasis with New Playground and Mural

Ribbon Cutting Ceremony: September 19, 3:15 pm on the Campus Playground

WICKER PARK, Chicago: – LaSalle II World Language Magnet School will celebrate its newest globally- inspired playground and mural with a ribbon cutting ceremony on September 19, 3:15 p.m. on the school’s Wolcott Street-side playground. This phase II construction of the school’s overall “Campus Re-Imagination Plan” includes the completion of new playground equipment, raised vegetable garden beds and a landscaped courtyard with an internationally themed mural.

Chicago-based urban design firm, Site Design Group, looked to LaSalle II’s world language emphasis for inspiration. The designers created a story time concept with four popular children’s tales that represent the school’s languages and cultures taught daily. Don Quixote in Spanish, Arabian Nights in Arabic, Journey to the West in Chinese, and Le Petit Prince (Little Prince) in French are all loosely incorporated into the playground scheme. Also included are multilingual quotes from the stories, providing further awareness of cultures beyond the playground.

A sizable portion of the renovation’s funds were granted from the Department of Planning and Development’s impact fees. Secured with the assistance of Alderman Moreno and OpenLands (one of the oldest metropolitan conservation organizations in the nation) these dollars can be used for projects that replace hard scape with permeable surfaces, as achieved in the LaSalle II design.

“As a world language academy, the goal is for our students not only to learn another language and culture, but to gain wider acceptance, understanding and concern for all parts of our world. The new playground and mural provide an extension of this cultural experience that the kids receive in the classroom,” explained Principal Lauren Albani.

“In addition, with the new learning gardens, our instructors will teach the kids about nutrition and respect for the land. This dual outdoor experience is a powerful combination for emphasizing the LaSalle II philosophies”, she continued.

OpenLands also installed multiple raised garden beds for planting edibles. Last fall, OpenLands and students installed an outdoor classroom on the Division and Honore side of the school as Phase I.

Christy Webber Landscapes (CWL) was another early partner, donating the time of a landscape architect who helped parents lay-out the overall space and participating in an extensive weekend design charrette.

“It was important from the beginning that the families have their voices heard in the design process,” explained Infrastructure Committee Co-chair, Ronda Locke.
“All parents and students were invited to complete a playground survey and give feedback. Beside the intensive design charrette,” she further explained, “we even held an after-school brainstorm session with just students. Their ideas were awesome and we helped them feel part of the solution.”

LaSalle II families helped to establish the entire campus renovation vision by earmarking it as a goal over three years ago. They have been raising funds via an annual Capital Campaign ever since, bringing in close to $100,000 to date.

“The families rallied for the school and this caught the attention of Alderman Moreno, who then donated $50,000 toward our project. We have been truly blessed in the myriad of support from the city and our community”, commented Capital Campaign Chair Kristin Drutchas.

In the courtyard, a 12 foot tall and over 65 foot wide mural crafted of mosaic tile, paint and over 1,000 pounds of clay sculpture, completes the new space. The mural was designed and installed by artists Julia Sowles-Barlow and Alfonso “Piloto” Nieves Ruiz of Chicago Public Art Group (CPAG), a not-for-profit organization with over 40 years experience in making public art.

CPAG spent over 70 hours teaching and ensuring that all children literally had their hand in a piece of the mural. Every LaSalle II student grades K-8 (population of 500+ students), was involved in designing clay tiles woven into the mural. Through historical symbols and characters mixed with images of modern day children, the mural tells a story of play rich in heritage, cultures and connections. Key words in a variety of languages floating throughout the mural: “Teamwork”, “Goals”, “Respect”, “Connect” and “Cultures” complete the piece.

With Phase II complete (phase I was an outdoor classroom installed on the school’s Division Street frontage), LaSalle II is now setting its sites on a new athletic field for the third and final phase of the campus plan.

The celebration will have refreshments donated by Milk and Honey Café.


For more information, contact Kristin Drutchas
LaSalle II World Language Magnet School, 1148 N. Honore Street, Chicago

[button link=”/pto/contact-playground-infrastructure/” linking=”default” size=”big” type=”wide” title=”Contact Kristin”]Contact Kristin[/button]

Plans for the New Playground

Work Will Start This Summer

LaSalle II is on schedule to receive a new playground, basketball court, mural and raised growing beds on the Wolcott side of the school this coming summer! Thanks to the support of OpenLands, Alderman Moreno, and the parent Capital Campaign, our dreams of a campus re-imagination is becoming a reality.

area for playground design

We Have an Amazing Design Team

CPS has assigned the design of the playground portion to Site Design Group. In our initial meeting with Site Design Group, they asked if we were open to some unique thinking. We shared our prior school community research, but of course said we would love to see their ideas.

We were extremely pleased to be presented with two options, both of which are inspired by our four World Languages. The infrastructure committee secured input from administration, infrastructure committee and at our parent coffee. We are excited to be pursuing the enclosed option with a few requested minor tweeks. Our feedback has indicated this is an exciting plan to pursue because of its cultural inspiration, ability to accommodate large number of kids, uniqueness, and huge play value.

Our Current Design

The designer’s description is as follows: The Storytime Concept is based on four children’s stories from the four languages taught at LaSalle 2 School. Don Quixote in Spanish, Arabian Nights in Arabic, Journey to the West in Chinese, and Le Petit Prince (Little Prince) in French are loosely incorporated into the playground scheme. Multilingual quotes from these four stories will be incorporated within the playground, providing an educational opportunity and further awareness of other cultures beyond the playground.

Draft Playground Design

Starting at the top, which would be closest to the 2 story building, the Spanish concept would be an intricate tall climber with a windmill sculpture incorporated. The Arabic portion includes a flying carpet benches with play elements to mimic clouds. The Mountains of china are represented in boulders and nets, while the French story includes a raised mound and play spinners ‘growing’ from the rounded surface. A larger format board will be placed at the front of the school for parents to take a closer look. We are excited to see this come to life.

Garden Club

We are forming a garden committee to help with the front outdoor classroom and the raised vegetable beds that will be installed on the Wolcott side. If you have a green thumb (or even if it is slightly brown) – we need your help! Please contact Carrie Davis, Garden Club contact to volunteer.

Mural Design Survey

And if you have not yet voted – please consider giving us your opinion on what the theme of the Wolcott mural should be. We will close the survey as of 5pm on Monday Jan. 20. Thanks to those that have voted.

Playgrounds to Visit

And finally, if you would like to see samples of Site Design Group’s recent work, you may want to visit these playgrounds:

  • Mary Bartelme Park – Intersection of S. Peoria St. and W. Adams St
  • Ward Park – Intersection of W. Erie and N. Kingsbury
  • Near North Montessori School – 1434 West Division Street
  • Mellin Park – Intersection of Bryn Mawr and Ashland
  • Merryman Park – 3741 N. Marshfield Ave
  • Merrimac Park – 6343 W. Irving Park Road
  • Coliseum Park – Intersection of E 14th Place and S Wabash Ave