Chicago high school for students with special needs receives makeover

CHICAGO (WLS) -- A CPS high school for students with special needs receives some much needed renovations just in time for the new school year.

Eyewitness News Anchor Judy Hsu went to Northside Learning Center High School to check out the new upgrades.

"I saw my wildest dreams come true with the things he was able to do here," said parent Nancy Somarriba.

Somarriba's son Alex spent seven years at Northside Learning Center High School and now, she is excited to give back to the school that gave her and her son so much hope.

"I can't even put into words how excited I am for the school," Somarriba said. "It's new beginnings. I just want to say that the opportunities that my son had here, they're going to be for new generations to come in a more beautiful surrounding, so I'm really excited about that."

Somarriba helped design the new logo on display at the school. It is just one of many renovations done at the school this summer.

"They did a lot of landscaping on the outside of our campus and they painted all of our hallways, our apartment and our car wash, complete with wall murals, several canvas murals and a donation from Ikea," said Northside Learning Center Assistant Principal Elizabeth Mourtokokis.

The upgrades are part of a grant from Chicago Cares in partnership with Discover. Three hundred volunteers were on hand to beautify the school. Teachers and staff said these renovations will mean so much to the students when they return in a few weeks.

"Knowing that there were 300 people in our school that took the time out of their day to be here is so impactful," said Michelle Kopke, a special education teacher and case manager at Northside Learning Center. "We, as educators at Northside Learning Center and as students and families, we love our school, but to have 300 people to come in and do this for us, how could you leave, leave out school and not think of us again because it's so impactful in what they did."

"So now they are going to walk around the building and see the husky head, our logo and our mascot and they're just going to feel a sense of pride for Northside and I can't wait to see their faces when they walk in," Mourtokokis said.

Northside Learning Center High School serves student ages 14-22 with mild to severe intellectual disabilities and Autism. If you want to learn more about the school, curriculum and their unique programming, visit

Northside Learning Center High School Background:

Northside Learning Center High School has 62 community-based partners in and around the city. We have 5 buses here every day all day to take our students into the community to work alongside their non-disabled peers.

Students in Grade 11 have the opportunity to perform in the school's Musical at Northeastern Illinois University. Last year's musical was Hairspray.

Upperclassmen can choose to participate in the school choir.

We have a whole school prom every year at White Eagle Banquet Hall. Our prom takes place during the school day.

Students get to choose from 20 different clubs to be a part of.

Our students have the opportunity to participate in various Special Olympics sporting events throughout the year. Northside has a soccer team, basketball team, snowshoe relay team, track & field and softball throw.

More information about our program can be found on our website:
Northside Learning Center High School Upcoming 2018 Events:

NLC Fall Fest

Saturday, Sept 29 12 p.m.- 4p.m.


Saturday, October 6 , 9 a.m.-12 p.m.


Wednesday, October 24 , 9 a.m.-12 p.m. & 3 p.m.-7 p.m.


Wednesday, November 14 , 9 a.m.-12 p.m. & 3 p.m. -7 p.m.


Saturday, November 17 form 9 a.m.-1 p.m.
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