Back to School | Feature | Chicago Reader

Back to School 

Seven past and present Chicagoans revisit their wonder years

Sign up for our newsletters Subscribe

highschool_magnum.jpg

Long before he was a crusading sex-advice columnist who launched an international campaign to ease the pain of LGBT bully victims, Dan Savage was the victim of similar attacks. Chicago Teachers Union prez Karen Lewis once railed against her own educators' rules—offering her an early taste of the thrill of battling the status quo. Top Chef Stephanie Izard used to be a national competitive swimmer—until a tenth of a second forever altered her course.

All of which goes to show that high school isn't a complete waste.

Most of us remember all too well the agony and ecstasy of our freshman through senior years. (If you're like me, you return there more often than you'd care to, in the form of recurring dreams in which you're forever ill-equipped for a chemistry test.) Not all of us bore the brunt of a Jesuit priest's wrath in exchange for a taste of Al's Italian Beef (see Bill Savage), nor were we unwitting accomplices to the theft of an LSD icon's car (yes, we're talking about Tim Kinsella). But we all can revel in escapades like those. We might not know what it's like to embark on the physical and spiritual journey from Englewood to Lane Tech (as Tonika Johnson did), or to graduate from being a diminutive, picked-on pud to a Golden Gloves champ (see Bill Hillmann). But we can appreciate the meaning of outsider, survivor, fighter—especially when it comes to those four formative years.

Even if you have zero desire to go back, you have to admit: high school had its moments.

Dan Savage, class of '80


DanSavage_teaser.jpg
Sex-advice columnist, cofounder of the It Gets Better Project, editorial director of the Stranger, brother of Bill

Bill Savage, class of '80


BillSavage_teaser.jpg
Northwestern University senior lecturer in English, bartender, brother of Dan

Karen Lewis, class of '70


KarenLewis_teaser.jpg
President, Chicago Teachers Union


Stephanie Izard, class of '94


StephanieIzzard_teaser.jpg
Executive chef, Girl & the Goat


Tim Kinsella, class of '93


TimKinsella_teaser.jpg
Musician who’s played with Cap’n Jazz, Owls, Joan of Arc, and Make Believe; author of the forthcoming novel The Karaoke Singer’s Guide to Self-Defense

Tonika G. Johnson, class of '97


TonikaJohnson_teaser.jpg
Photographer and cofounder/lead teacher of Media-N-Motion, a south-side after-school writing program that explores media stereotypes and overcoming bias

Bill Hillman, class of '99


BillHillman_teaser.jpg
Host of the Windy City Story Slam



Support Independent Chicago Journalism: Join the Reader Revolution

We speak Chicago to Chicagoans, but we couldn’t do it without your help. Every dollar you give helps us continue to explore and report on the diverse happenings of our city. Our reporters scour Chicago in search of what’s new, what’s now, and what’s next. Stay connected to our city’s pulse by joining the Reader Revolution.

Are you in?

  Reader Revolutionary $35/month →  
  Rabble Rouser $25/month →  
  Reader Radical $15/month →  
  Reader Rebel  $5/month  → 

Not ready to commit? Send us what you can!

 One-time donation  → 

Comments

Showing 1-1 of 1

Add a comment

 
Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-1 of 1

Add a comment

Agenda Teaser

Galleries & Museums
Anthem Weinberg/Newton Gallery
September 11
Performing Arts
April 30 1

Popular Stories