Top of Page

Chicago Public Schools Celebrates the Class of 2023

30 May 2023

Students earn thousands of accolades, including Seal of Biliteracy and associate degrees, and nearly $1 billion in scholarships

CPS Office of Communications

Phone: 773-553-1620
Twitter: @chipubschools
Facebook: chicagopublicschools

CHICAGO – Chicago Public Schools (CPS) high school graduates began moving tassels to the left and tossing mortarboards in the air this past weekend amid the bittersweet sound of Pomp and Circumstance in auditoriums and other local venues across the city. The Class of 2023 - who were all freshmen during the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic - have earned nearly $1 billion in college scholarships and garnered thousands of state and national honors and academic distinctions. The ceremonies and celebrations will continue through mid-June for thousands of CPS graduates with a final tally to be available in the fall. Last year, 21,205 students graduated from CPS, with the District graduation rate increasing 2.7 percentage points to 82.9 percent.

Class of 2023 - By the Numbers
Seals of Biliteracy 2,435
15+ College Credits 620
Associate Degrees 120
IB Diploma Exams Taken 884
AP Exams Taken 9,650

Mayor Brandon Johnson will speak at the George Westinghouse College Prep graduation ceremony at 7 p.m. Tuesday at the Arie Crown Theater.

“I’m extremely proud of our Chicago Public Schools students and their many accomplishments and accolades, including thousands of national honors and academic distinctions,” said Mayor Johnson. “Whatever path our students pursue next, they represent the best our city has to offer, and I wish them and their families well-deserved happiness and success. Congratulations to the Class of 2023!”

With high school diplomas - and often college credits - already attained, CPS graduates are moving on to attend higher education powerhouses like Stanford, Harvard, Michigan, North Carolina A&T, University of Illinois Urbana Champaign, Eastern Kentucky and institutions around the world. Some will stay closer to home with plans to attend a City Colleges of Chicago campus, University of Chicago, Northwestern University or the University of Illinois at Chicago campus among others. Still, others will continue their training and apprenticeship programs in the culinary arts, cosmetology, automotive, construction and other skilled trades.

“Every day, our students show our city that they are talented, hardworking and engaged and I am excited to watch this year’s graduating class continue to grow into the teachers, engineers, writers and leaders of tomorrow,” said CPS CEO Pedro Martinez. “I am incredibly proud of our 2023 graduating class and offer them my sincere congratulations on their outstanding achievements. I also extend my deepest thanks to the incredible teachers, school leaders and family members who supported them in their achievement.”

This year’s graduating class includes Englewood STEM High School’s first cohort of graduates, with nearly 50 percent of Englewood seniors earning college credit and five earning associate degrees.

Seal of Biliteracy

More than 2,400 students earned the Illinois Seal of Biliteracy this year – a 25 percent increase from 2022. The Seal of Biliteracy is given to students who have attained proficiency in two more languages before their high school graduation. Students from 87 District schools earned a Seal of Biliteracy this year in 34 total languages, including American Sign Language (ASL), Hebrew, Mandarin and Turkish, with Spanish being the most common Seal language.

This increase reflects the District’s intentional investment in bilingual and dual-language programs, with the FY2023 budget providing $3 million in new funding for additional bilingual teachers and dual-language program coordinators, as well as the formation of bilingual advisory councils. Dual language programming provides instruction in both English and Spanish, ensuring students are biliterate and bilingual in both languages.

Tasnova Adrita, a Mather High School Class of 2023 graduate, pursued the Seal of Biliteracy in Bengali as a way to stay in touch with her family’s traditions and culture. In addition to reaching proficiency in both Bengali and English, Adrita actively participated in Track and Field, Cross Country, Yearbook, 40th Ward Junior Board, Swedish Mini Medical School, Adler Planetarium Summer Internship, as well as National Honor Society. Adrita will be attending the University of Michigan where she plans to study Chemistry and Pre-Health Sciences.

“The Seal of Biliteracy is important for me because it encourages people like me to stay close to our home country and traditions, despite living miles and miles away,” said Adrita. “I decided to take the Seal of Biliteracy to use it as a credit for my college language, which is required for my major and it will help me stand out for any future career or job opportunities.”

Industry Credentials

CPS graduates earned industry certifications in healthcare and various trades this year which can help them earn a living post high school while they pursue additional education. This year, 20 CPS students will pursue paid trainee positions with the International Union of Operating Engineers (IUOE) 399 to complete the IUOE Trainee program as operating engineers with the support of a highly-skilled JLL mentor. After completion of the program, the trainees will have earned an associate degree and have the option to pursue a bachelor’s degree at a reduced cost, and students will be eligible to apply for work at CPS, which can ultimately open the door to job opportunities throughout the U.S. and globally. This year’s students come from Senn, Kelly, Curie, Peace & Education Coalition, Back of the Yards, Richards, CVCA and Bogan high schools.

Jojo Campusano-Jimenez, a Thomas Kelly College Prep High School Class of 2023 graduate, has been selected to receive a JLL Scholarship to start their journey to become a skilled operating engineer through the International Union of Operating Engineers, Local 399. Through this partnership between JLL, IUOE Local 399 and Chicago Public Schools, Jojo will also earn their Associate Degree from Triton College.

"I'm extremely excited for what comes next after graduation," said Campusano-Jimenez. "Not having to worry about how I'm going to pay for school is a huge relief. Now I can focus on my studies and enjoy the summer months with my friends and family."

Early College Attainment

CPS students also made great strides in early college attainment. This year, more than 5,000 CPS students earned college credits before graduation, with over 600 of those students earning at least 15 credits – a 32 percent increase from last year. Students of color saw significant gains, with a 100 percent increase for Black male students, from 37 in 2022 to 74 in 2023, and a nearly 56 percent increase for Hispanic male students, up from 76 in 2022 to 119 in 2023. Students who earned college credits did so either through the District’s partnership with City Colleges of Chicago (CCC) or through DeVry Unity Advantage Academy High School’s associate degree program. More than 120 CPS students earned an associate degree through these two programs.

Uriel Hernandez, a Solorio Academy High School Class of 2023 graduate, appreciated the rigor of his college-level courses. Hernandez will attend the University of Illinois Urbana Champaign next year and plans to major in Computer Science.

“The dual credit courses were very difficult at first, but taking college-level classes while in high school teaches you what it's like to go to college and take classes at a university,” said Hernandez. “The courses taught me how to use my time more effectively and not procrastinate, and that discipline is extremely beneficial.”

The number of District students who sat for the May 2023 International Baccalaureate (IB) diploma program exams increased to 884, up from 770 in 2022. IB students who earn a score of a 4 or higher on IB exams may receive college credit. All public postsecondary institutions in Illinois, including all City Colleges of Chicago, award college credit for passing scores on IB exams.

Nationally-Recognized Scholars

Five of this year’s graduating class have also been awarded the prestigious Gates Scholarship for their exemplary work in leadership, perseverance and academic excellence. Paul Adekola of Air Force Academy High School, Alanah Martin of Kenwood Academy, Kevin Reyes Vega of Chicago Military Academy and Jaylen Brown and Sammi Yee of Whitney Young High School will attend prestigious colleges next year with the support of the Gates Foundation full-tuition scholarship.

"I'm honored to be one of the recipients of the Gates Scholarship. I'd like to thank my family, friends, teachers and the Gates's for all their support,” said Adekola, who plans to study computer science at DePaul University. “If not for them, going to college, and perhaps most importantly, funding it, would've been difficult to accomplish. I can't wait to graduate and get started on my college experience."