Senn High School Principal Holly Dacres and Athletic Director Steven Brewer pump iron in the school's new weight room. Credit: Mack Liederman/Block Club Chicago

EDGEWATER — Nicholas Senn High School showed off a facelift to its athletic facilities just ahead of the fall season.

The sprawling Far North Side school at 5900 N. Glenwood Ave. was chosen by CPS to receive a $100,000 gift from the charitable wing of UnitedHealthcare, in partnership with the Cal Ripken, Sr. Foundation.

About 80 volunteers helped with the rapid rehab Wednesday and Thursday of Senn’s weight room, physical education classroom, coaches office and teachers lounge.

The revamped weight room now has six racks and benches, four rowers, four wind bikes, three pylo boxes, TRX bands, a black turf, upgrades to its plates, dumbbells, weighted balls, kettle bells, white boards, school decals and a “Monster Rig” in the middle of it all.

A before and after of the new weight room at Senn High School in Edgewater. Credit: Provided.

The school’s physical education room has 18 new rolling tables and 36 new rolling chairs for a flexible classroom for health and driver’s education courses, said Chris Rubright, vice president of programs and grants for the Ripken Foundation. The coaches office and teachers lounge will also be fashioned with new furniture.

The effort is part of the collaboration’s “Team8 Tour,” which has been sprucing up athletic facilities at underserved city schools across the country since 2016, said Sarah Ball, senior program manager with UnitedHealthcare. Austin College & Career Academy High School’s weight room and dance studio previously received Team8 Tour renovations in 2018.

Senn’s new digs will support the school’s 500 student-athletes across 27 teams and 20 sports, Athletic Director Steven Brewer said.

The weight room will be also tapped for physical education classes, Brewer said. Any of the school’s 1,500-plus students are also welcome to use the weight room any time, as long as they have staff supervision, Brewer said.

“Our sports programs are gaining momentum and this weight room is a real game-changer,” Brewer said. “Senn is unique in the realm of having all types of students, from all over the world, a big immigrant population, and with these new facilities we hope to better encourage everyone to take the opportunity to be part of a larger team.”

A look inside the new weight room at Senn High School in Edgewater. Credit: Mack Liederman/Block Club Chicago

Senn Principal Holly Dacres said she “started crying” when she found out her school was selected for the new weight room, which previously had limited, aging equipment. A former student-athlete told Dacres the upgrade gives Senn the equivalent of a college athletic facility, she said.

And it will give kids the chance to have more of their needs met inside the safety of school walls, Dacres said.

“They fixed up and scrubbed this place down to the floor,” Dacres said. “All this helps us show student how much we value them. It’s an investment that’s going to invest in them.”

More photos from Senn’s athletic renovations below:

There are six new racks and bench inside Senn High School’s new weight room. Credit: Mack Liederman/Block Club Chicago
The “Monster Rig” inside Senn High School’s new weight room is equipped with TRX bands. Credit: Mack Liederman/Block Club Chicago
There’s four wind bikes inside the new weight room at Senn High School in Edgewater. Credit: Mack Liederman/Block Club Chicago
Volunteers at Senn High School build chairs Thursday as part of upgrades to the teachers lounge and coaches office. Credit: Mack Liederman/Block Club Chicago
New tables and chairs inside the physical education classroom at Senn High School. Credit: Mack Liederman/Block Club Chicago

Help Block Club Get
500 More Subscribers!

Subscribe to Block Club now and you’ll get a free 16-by-20-inch Chicago neighborhood print of your choice, helping us reach our goal of getting 500 more subscribers before 2024. Click here to subscribe or click here to gift a subscription.

Listen to the Block Club Chicago podcast: