Kelvyn Park high school throws away hundreds of classic books, scandalizing neighbors

KELVYN PARK – Hundreds of classic Kelvyn Park High School books were thrown away last week, sparking outrage from neighbors.

Photos of the trash can full of high school books began to circulate widely online over the weekend, with angry commentators claiming the books shouldn’t have been thrown out or, at the very least, should have been given away. to local organizations.

The mountain of discarded books included copies of “Hamlet,” “Crime And Punishment,” and “The Metamorphosis,” among other classics.

“I was so upset because these aren’t books – they’re classics,” said Ruth Torres, a local resident, who wrote about the books on Facebook.

“They had Edgar Allan Poe, Shakespeare, Dostoyevsky, they had so many. And it was like, Wow, these are books that I grew up reading that changed my life and my perspective. I was like, why would they get rid of it that way? There are so many different ways to distribute books that are not in use.

In response to the messages, several neighbors rescued books from the dumpster – and the rain – over the weekend, Torres said. A local scout troop supervised by Torres plans to stock small libraries with some of the recovered books.

Credit: Courtesy of Ruth Torres
Some of the books recovered.

CPS officials said Kelvyn Park High School is currently undergoing renovations and books have been “disposed of” as part of that process.

“Weeding” is an essential process to ensure that schools maintain a relevant book collection. Condition, use in the curriculum, or provision of erroneous or dated information are among the factors considered in the weeding process, according to CPC policy.

“All students deserve to have access to appropriate reading material that will enrich their academic experience and we appreciate that the community has expressed such interest. Discarded books were obsolete, in poor condition, and no longer suitable for classroom use. The books weren’t properly disposed of until the alternatives were exhausted, ”CPS spokeswoman Emily Bolton said in a written statement.

The Kelvyn Park High School principal did not immediately return a message requesting comment.

Hermosa High School is far from the first public school in Chicago to throw away books in droves – and generate frustration by doing so; this has played out in many CPS schools over the years.

Edgewater’s Senn High School made headlines in 2019 for throwing away hundreds of copies of classic books, including “The Great Gatsby” and “Hiroshima.”

At the time, CPS officials said the books were “weeded” after another high school left Senn’s building.

Hundreds of books were also thrown away at Foreman High School in 2016. The school in Portage Park threw away textbooks, many of which were still wrapped in plastic wrap.

CPS officials and then-director Foreman said the books were obsolete and had been disposed of in accordance with district policy.

Lee Helmer, executive director of the Hermosa Neighborhood Association, a community group that works closely with Kelvyn Park High School, said it was important that principals were not blamed for throwing away the books. They are doing their best with limited resources, Helmer said.

Kelvyn Park High School at 4343 W. Wrightwood Ave. primarily welcomes Hispanic students from low-income families, according to CPS.

“If we are to save these books, if people are afraid to save them, then communities and community organizations like the Hermosa Neighborhood Association need volunteers to connect with schools and make those connections to move these books before they go.” don’t end up in the dumpster. “Helmer said.

To volunteer with the Hermosa Neighborhood Association, visit the group’s website website.

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About Marcia G. Hussain

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