Ida Crown welcomed a new class of nearly 60 freshmen this year, along with 14 transfer students! Of the transfers that came to our school, we welcomed one freshman, nine sophomores, five juniors and one senior. Students from different backgrounds and with different prior academic experiences are now roaming the hallways of our very own Ida Crown Jewish Academy; I interviewed Sara Richter and Anna Parets who are sophomores, along with Eli Usprich who is a senior.
What school did you come from?
Sara Richter: I attended Amana High School in Israel.
Ana Parets: I came from Jupiter High School in Florida.
Eli Usprich: I came from Block Yeshiva High School, a small school in St. Louis that actually closed down this year. They just didn’t have enough people sending their children there; in fact, last year there were only 7 students in the entire school!
Have you been to Chicago in the past? What do you remember from your last trip? If not, is this your first time being/living in Chicago?
Sara Richter: I lived in Chicago my whole life, and my family made Aliyah before my freshmen year of high school. I went to Arie Crown before moving to Israel.
Ana Parets: I visited Chicago a few times to visit my cousins; I have a distinct memory of learning what black ice was in 2012; in Florida it rarely goes below 65 degrees Fahrenheit, so when I came for my cousin’s bat mitzvah in February that year I stepped on what looked like a normal street and slipped and fell.
Eli Usprich: I have been to Chicago before. Living in a small town like St. Louis, I’ve always found it fun to visit bigger cities like Chicago, especially downtown and Navy Pier. I remember the last time I visited, I rode on the sea dog motorboat tour by Navy Pier and I loved it.
What’s different about Ida Crown compared to your old school?
Sara Richter: The learning was different at my old school, Amana. The academics are a lot more serious here. At my old school there were clubs like baking, cooking, coding, tech, and zumba. I also ran in the running club at my old school and I joined the Running ACES here at ICJA.
Ana Parets: I came from Jupiter High School in Florida. There were 4000 kids in my school in Florida and the day started at 7:20 a.m. and ended at 2:40 p.m.; we only had seven classes but they lasted longer than the ones here. The teachers and students didn’t really have any connection and nobody really cared about anybody because there were so many people and so little time. My old school did have more clubs though such as: archery and anime club, and even my favorite, drama club. We also had homecoming and prom, which was fun. Ida Crown is much cleaner than public school. There was gum under the desks and writing on the walls. In public school, there was nobody to talk to when you had an issue; the guidance counselor was only for schedule changes and college advice. We also didn’t have uniforms; I could wear pajamas to school if I wanted to. There weren’t many Jews and people were very ignorant and came to me asking the weirdest things about being Jewish; it’s nice to be surrounded by Jewish students who understand and share a similar lifestyle to me.
Eli Usprich: Well, as one can imagine, coming from a school with 7 students to ICJA is quite a jump. The main difference is the size. As far as the environment, I still feel like the teachers really care about the students, despite the vastly different teacher-to-student ratio.
How did you find out about Ida Crown?
Sara Richter: I heard about it because a lot of my Arie Crown friends go here and also my dad and older brothers went here.
Ana Parets: My aunt found it for me; she said lots of people in West Rogers Park go here.
Eli Usprich: I found out about Ida Crown through NCSY. I started last year and made plenty of friends from Chicago who attend ICJA, and I’m glad it led me here.
This article is by Ilana Peritt and originally appeared in The Crown Prints.