Top 100 Best High Schools 2013 – Walter Payton College Prep – Newsweek – 87/100

Top 100 Best High Schools 2013 – Walter Payton College Prep – Newsweek – 87/100

Top 100 Best High Schools 2013 – Walter Payton College Prep – Newsweek – 87/100


Walter Payton College Prep

Walter Payton College Preparatory High School (commonly known as Payton College Prep) is public 4-year selective enrollment magnet high school located in the Old Town neighborhood on the north side of Chicago, Illinois, USA.

1034 N Wells St, Chicago, IL 60610, United States



Walter Payton College Prep, founded in 2000, is part of the Chicago Public Schools system. The school, which is located on Chicago’s near north side, is notably one of the top of the city’s nine selective enrollment high schools. It was named after football legend Walter Payton, a former member of the Chicago Bears who died shortly before the school was opened. The school colors are blue and orange, the colors of the Bears . (The school’s team was originally called the Navigators, but it was later changed by a student vote to the Grizzlies, an admittedly more “athletic” name that pays homage to their hometown pro football team.[citation needed]) After principal Gail Ward left the school in 2006, Ellen Estrada became principal. In 2011, a new administration was formed under Timothy Devine with D’Andre Weaver and Michelle Washington as Assistant Principals. In May 2006 the Confucius Institute in Chicago was opened at Payton, as a partnership between Chicago Public Schools, the Office of Chinese Language Council International and Shanghai’s East China Normal University it is the only Confucius Institute in the world housed in a high school. On January 21, 2011, President Hu Jintao of China visited the school, where he saw the KAM and AP Chinese classes, and invited 20 faculty and students to China for the upcoming summer.[3] The Payton Choir was one of only eight US choirs to travel to the 2008 Olympics in Beijing.[4] Payton is the setting for the young adult novel ridiculous/hilarious/terrible/cool: A Year in an American High School by Elisha Cooper.[5] In the movie Beastly, Payton’s facade was used as the fictional Buckston Academy High School.[citation needed]


Walter Payton was ranked first in the state, for the academic year 2008-2009, by The Chicago Tribune based on the percentage of student who met or exceeded state expectations on the Prairie State Achievement Exam. It was rated the second best high school in the state, following Northside College Preparatory High School, by the Chicago Sun Times in 2009, based on average Prairie State Achievement Exam scores.[6] In addition, Payton ranks as the 41st best high school in the nation according to U.S. News & World Report.[7]

Walter Payton was the winner in two categories for the 2010 Intel Schools of Distinction awards. It won the high school award for Excellence in Mathematics and the Star Innovator Award for incorporating technology into classes, collaborative lesson and course planning, and for the use of Japanese Lesson Study.[8] In total the awards should net Payton approximately $175,000 in cash and prizes.[9]


Payton competes in the Chicago Public League (CPL) and is a member of the Illinois High School Association (IHSA).

Math Team

In 2004, Payton’s math team became the first Chicago Public School team in decades to win the Illinois Council of Mathematics Teachers (ICTM) state championship. Payton’s then-four-year-old team topped the University of Chicago Laboratory School (the reigning private school in the division) in Division 2A. Since then it had also won the state title in 2005 and 2006, as well as the Chicago Public Schools city title in 2006 and 2007. Its seniors placed first in the North Suburban Math League in 2007. In 2007, Payton scored in the top 60 schools in the country on the AMC-12, one of the American Mathematics Competitions. In April 2007, the math team again won the ICTM state title for the ICTM contest despite having jumped a division ( from 2A to 3AA) since the state title in 2006. After moving up to the highest division in the state, 4AA, Payton placed 4th overall in 2008 and then 6th overall in 2009, behind IMSA, Naperville North, and Stevenson. In 2010, Payton won the ICTM state title for the 3AA division.


Of three teams in CPS history to ever compete at the TOC (Tournament of Champions), two of the teams have come from Payton .[citation needed]

Model U.N.

The Walter Payton Model UN team was started in 2004. The team started with just 4 members in 2004 and has since grown to over 50. In 2006 the team won best delegation at the Global Classrooms conference, along with many other best delegate and honorable mention awards. In November, 2007 the team also received many awards for their superior representation of their assigned nations. On February 8, 2008, the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon visited the school because of its prestigious team where he continued to stress the importance of reversing the global warming crisis.

The Walter Payton Memorial Scholarship

The Walter Payton Scholarship Foundation, started by Payton’s brother, Eddie, has set up an scholarship at the school. The scholarship was originally based in Mississippi, the Paytons’ home, but Eddie Payton found such inspiration in the school that he decided to set up the scholarship there as well.[citation needed] Every year since 2005, a student at Payton is chosen, based on financial hardship, leadership ability, community outreach and general academic success.