Dyett High School is a Class 2A sized IHSA member school in inner city Chicago that recently won the 2011 "Rise Up" extreme high school makeover sponsored by ESPN.
It all started in late May when we received a phone call from one of the executive producers of the show telling us that they were in receipt of a letter I wrote on behalf of the students and athletic department at our school talking about the hard times and desperate state of our athletic facilities and lack of uniforms for our teams. I was aware of the Rise Up program thanks to an email I received from the IHSA office concerning this particular contest.
On June 16th, 2010, the final day of the school year, we found out that we were not only a finalist for the show, but that we had also been chosen as one of four high schools in the country who would be featured on the show, which included an athletic facility renovation/makeover.
Words couldn’t describe the emotions that ran through our student body as the filming crew documented live footage of the announcement to our students, staff and community in a town hall / assembly style announcement.
This indeed was the greatest day I have ever experienced at Dyett High School. During the summer months, contractors and multiple filming crews were on hand daily rehabbing our facility and filming the makeover while interviewing our students and teams as they practiced during the summer contact period.
As school started and the moment of the reveal got closer, the anticipation and buzz around the school was phenomenal. The reveal day was literally the first time we would get a chance to see our state-of-the-art workout facility and gymnasium makeover and redesign. Keep in mind that no one was able to go near the facilities until the reveal date, so everyone’s anticipation was at its peak.
Camera crews, dignitaries, Chicago Public School officials and other special guests were everywhere as we prepared for the reveal.
The moment came on August 29, 2011 (pictured right) and there was nothing but excitement on the faces of the hundreds of students and faculty in attendance. No one could believe what Rise Up had done for our school, but it was no dream. The renovation included a redesigned gymnasium, brand new game uniforms for all sports, football helmets and pads and equipment.
We also received a Fitness Center that will allow our entire student body to stay fit and involved.
The Chicago Bulls, who played a big role in our makeover, adopted Chicago Dyett as its fitness partner, making a commitment to help our student athletes stay healthy and fit. The Bulls and Rise up wanted not only for our athletes to stay fit and healthy, but for our entire student body to live well.
This entire event will be televised for the first time on ESPN on Tuesday, October 4th at 6 p.m. central time. I hope you add it to your calendar or set your DVR, because I believe this story will help bring hope to many schools across Illinois that annually face budget cuts that affect our children and programs.
Athletic Director and Head Basketball Coach
Dyett High School