Celebrations and concern at Whitney Young

March 22, 2009 9:02:59 PM PDT
Just hours before the school's basketball team won a state championship, some other students were arrested for underage drinking.A pep rally was held at the school Sunday, but the arrests were also on the minds of many people there.

The state basketball championship was played in Peoria. Early Saturday morning, Illinois state police cited over two dozen teenagers for underage drinking at a motel in the area. Police say many of the kids were Whitney Young students. However, Chicago Public Schools has yet to confirm that.

The arrests were not about to dampen spirits at Whitney Young's pep rally Sunday afternoon. The band was playing and proud parents were cheering as Whitney Young high school's boys basketball team arrived home with a trophy. They are now state champs, and it is an accomplishment junior Marcus Jordan can now hold over his dad Michael's head.

"You always say you want to win a state championship, but to finally do it is great," Marcus Jordan said.

But the night before the big win in Peoria, Illinois state police raided a Peoria motel where several high school students were staying. Twenty-seven teens were cited for underage drinking. Police say many were from Whitney Young, which shocks Michael Simkins and Andrew Rodriguez, who say they stayed at the motel and did not see any of their Whitney Young peers drinking.

"We are getting labeled here, and it's not really true. We went down there to celebrate big victory. We went down there solely to support our basketball team," Simkins said.

It is not believed the 27 students cited were all from Whitney Young. Chicago Public Schools released the following statement:

"Until we are able to confirm if CPS students were involved, it would be inappropriate to comment at this time. The matter remains under internal review, and the appropriate actions will be taken as needed," spokesperson Monique Bond wrote.

While Whitney Young is accomplished in athletics, the West Side high school is also known for its high level of academics. Students say they are taught to uphold their reputation.

"Before we left, they told us on the bus about how every time Whitney Young goes downstate to be on our best behavior because we're not just representing Whitney Young but Chicago as a whole," said student Tywan Bishop.

Students and parents say they are not about to let a few bad apples ruin the school's basketball championship or Whitney Young's reputation for academics.

Chicago Public Schools will continue to investigate the situation. A few of the students arrested had addresses listed outside of Chicago.