Prairie Crossing Charter School
Prairie Crossing Charter School (PCCS) is located in Grayslake, Illinois within the nationally recognized conservation community of Prairie Crossing. The school follows the goals of the surrounding community, utilizing the existing preserved landscape, prairie fields, organic farms, and natural wetlands as a curriculum tool.
PCCS was chartered by the Illinois State Board in 1999 hoping to enroll to a full capacity of 360 students for grades kindergarten through 8th grade by its 8th year. Students enrolled in district #70 or #59 are eligible to apply for the lottery system of admission, of which there is currently a substantial waiting list. On many occasions there are split families at the PCCS location. Should one sibling enroll by winning the lottery system, the other sibling is automatically placed at the top of the waiting list.
In 2005, two new classroom buildings were built to accommodate the schools growing enrollment numbers. The new buildings achieved LEED Gold certification from the USGBC for its sustainable design excellence.
The following is a short list among the many sustainable features of the building.
• Non-toxic, recycled or recyclable building materials
• Daylighting in classrooms and interior corridors with indirect light sources: Clerestory windows placed between the classroom and corridor allow ample natural daylight into the internal corridors. Classrooms boast large expanses of glass, allowing natural light and negating the need for electrical lighting during daytime hours.
• Geothermal heat pumps
• Natural Ventilation
• Photovoltaic electricity
• Stormwater Re-use: Stormwater is collected in large cisterns and pumped into the building for uses such as water for toilet flushing. The cisterns remain a daily reminder and teaching tool for all members of the school community.
PCCS students have ranked within the top twenty-five schools statewide in reading, writing, and mathematics within the first two years of the school’s conception. It is regarded as one of the top public elementary schools in the state of Illinois, with educational programs emphasizing environmental science and civic responsibility.
Outdoor learning is integrated within the basic learning subjects of math, science, social studies, and language arts. Hands-on learning methods allow students to retain and understand information through personal experience. In addition, the students learn to be more innovative in their learning skills and begin to understand how to realize their own projects and visions in the surrounding environment. Individual projects or research is encouraged within the school community. In fact, all students complete a compiled research study project, similar to a thesis, by the end of their 8th year. Students are encouraged to choose a topic or subject which interests them and investigate it further. Presentations to the staff and parents are given at the end of the year by each student, individually. Often the topic chosen will evolve over the course of the year as the student gains further knowledge through other basic learning subjects. They are able to then use their personal thesis project as a hands-on tool to learn the basic studies of math, science, reading and social studies. Once a year, Waste Management provides an award to the student with the best project.