Morgan Park High School (MPHS) students who are participating in sports and extracurricular activities will soon ride to their events in style.
In a surprise donation during an MPHS local school council (LSC) meeting on Jan. 15, the MPHS Alumni Association gifted the school with a 15-seat bus, featuring the school colors and “Morgan Park” proudly displayed across the exterior.
MPHS Principal Femi Skanes hugged members after the alumni association led her outside to see the bus. Teams and clubs will benefit from the new amenity.
“Honestly, this is like a dream come true,” Skanes said. “We pay so much money carting kids around. Some of our smaller programs, like our bowling teams, some of our dance programs, and even our cheerleaders—sometimes we can’t even afford to take our cheerleaders [to games].”
The alumni association formed in June 2018, just after Skanes was hired, although there was no connection between the two.
Quiana Edmond, alumni association president and a Class of 2002 graduate, said her organization has been busy the last 18 months.
The association donated over $2,500 in gift cards and trunk party items to the Class of 2019, she said, and spent $500 for food in hosting a barbecue for those students’ college “Decision Day.”
The association has also donated funds for gifts and meals for staff and teacher appreciation events, and visited the school for clean-up days and pep rallies.
Members also released a song, “Morgan Park Mustangs,” that is available for download, and hosted an alumni picnic.
The final cost of the bus was unavailable, Edmond said, but it is “very low.”
Funds were donated to purchase, fix and paint the vehicle from the association’s post-picnic party last August hosted by alumnus Raymond Thomas, who owns Raven’s Place in Blue Island.
Edmond was proud the association is already making such substantial donations. She said she reached out to Skanes after she was hired and inquired about how the association could help the school. Skanes replied that her top need was a bus.
“This was a group effort across the board,” Edmond said. “It’s the magic of the alumni body.”
The bus was purchased from First Transit, where association member and Class of 1998 representative Dasha Thompson is a district accountant. Thompson said she noticed the bus had been sitting unused, so she inquired about buying it.
Edmond said Thompson deserves extra credit.
“This would not have been possible without her,” Edmond said. “Dasha is the reason we got this bus. They practically donated the bus to us.”
Noted graffiti artist Rahmaan Statik, of Chicago, painted the bus, with orange and green streaks of color on both sides. “Home of the Mustangs” is printed above the windshield, and Statik’s and the alumni association’s logos are displayed on the back of the vehicle.
Thompson said the alumni association also wants to help provide students scholarships.
“We try to give back,” Thompson said, “whenever we can.”
Skanes was so excited about the donation that she called Chicago Public Schools CEO Janice Jackson to tell her the good news.
Skanes said she became a little suspicious at the meeting because the media and 19th Ward Aldermanic Aide Marty Joyce were in attendance, but “never in a million years” did she expect to see a bus.
She was thrilled for MPHS athletes and club members.
“None of this is about me,” Skanes said. “Everything is about the students.”
Other supporters of the donation included alumni Tania Peterson-Carr, Kevin Peggs, Renee Hill, Ashley Marsh, Alex Nance, Donzell West and Carisa Parker—the LSC chairperson—and alumni association board members Darnisha McGee and Melanie Berks.
The alumni association is currently hosting its second annual contest in which students design the T-shirts for the association’s picnic.
Last year’s winner, 2019 graduate Danasha White, received a $100 licensing fee, a shirt with her design and recognition at the picnic.
For more information on the MPHS Alumni Association, email email@example.com.