Irving School was once the poor relation among Oak Park’s elementary schools. Its teachers were recycled from other buildings. Its leadership was weak. Its parents were not much involved. Expectations of and for Irving School, tucked in Oak Park’s southeast corner, were low.
That was then.
These days Irving School, 1125 S. Cuyler Ave., has momentum with a strong and respected principal in John Hodge, a determined PTO, rising test scores and it sits in the midst of a re-energized community which has embraced the school.
So we’re not about to cast doubts on the $2 million plan unleashed last week to convert the enormous and unwelcoming asphalt jungle that surrounds the Ridgeland side of the school. The plan is a sensation of landscape architecture, play areas as well as a bold declaration of the Irving community’s faith in the future.
Can it be built? We’ll see. The backers are tossing a lot of Daniel Burnham “Make no little plans,” rhetoric about. And they clearly have taken the master planner’s axiom to heart. The grand plan has an artificial turf field, an outdoor classroom, a reading garden, and a playground with custom made equipment set in a “glacial lake” and wrapped with a “meandering river” pathway.
Weary taxpayers need to snap to and understand that Irving backers understand only a relatively small portion of the high cost might come directly from the school district. Fundraising and grant writing are already underway to fund the majority of the three-phase project.
We love the energy and the ambition this proposal represents. Go get ’em Irving Eagles.