The main gym at CVS has a few rows of seating along the sidelines, with balcony sections above each baseline. It also has windows running the length of the court, and just like several old Chicago Public High Schools, custom drapes too cover them, March 16, 2014. (Photo by Vincent D. Johnson)

Interesting Gym In Giant High School Full Of Football Legends

Chicago Vocational School, CVS, or as it’s now called Chicago Vocational Career Academy, is a Chicago Public High School located on the southeast side of the city in the Avalon park neighborhood.

The massive structure, which is kind of V-shaped, was built in 1940 as part of the Works Progress Administration (WPA) and started off as a all-boys schools meant to train young men for the heavy industry not far from the school. The school was almost immediately taken over by the Navy because of WWII and was used to train mechanics for aircraft maintenance until the war ended and the Navy returned the school to CPS in 1946

What to stump the your sports nuts Chicago friends? Ask them which high school in the city has an actual airplane hanger on its campus. CVS does, the building still stands on the northwest part of the property.

The gym features two balcony sections about 12 feet above the court, just far enough back from the baselines that the walls aren’t padded. Bleachers run the length of the court as do tall-narrow windows with drapes decorated with the letters “CVCA.”

CVS had some basketball success, but might be more well known for the football players it produced. March 16, 2014. (Photo by Vincent D. Johnson)

A School of Football Legends

Despite being a massive school, it could probably hold over 6,000 students, the Cavilers don’t have many basketball accolades. While the IHSA lists them as have just 4 Regional titles, which have all come in the last 20 years, this probably has a little more to do with lack of records and a playoff format that awarded a Chicago Public League champion directly into the state semi-finals. So you were either city champs and at state, or the runner-up with no regional or sectional titles. CVS’s 1975-76 season seems to have been one of their finest as they went 27-2.

On the football side of things CVS produced three well regarded linebackers in the NFL Chicago Bears legendary Dick Butkus, who graduated in the class of 1961. The Bears’ Chris Zorich, class of 1987 and Keenan Turner, class of 1976, who played for the 49ers in the 1980s and was a part of 4 Super Bowl winning teams. Fullback E.J. Jones, 1980, rounds out the pro players and while his college career shown bright for one season, people still talk about class of 2006’s Juice Williams, who electrified the crowd at the University of Illinois in 2007.

Former NBA player and most remembered for his time as part of the Fab 5 at the University of Michigan, Juwan Howard, class of 1991, is the lone basketball product of note to graduate from CVS.

I’d love to see the line item in the budget for drapes at CPS schools. A boys basketball playoff game between Hyde Park and Bogan at Chicago Vocational, March 16, 2014. (Photo by Vincent D. Johnson)
The balcony seating above the baseline at Chicago Vocation is one of the unique aspects of the gym there. Seen during a boys basketball playoff game between Hyde Park and Bogan at Chicago Vocational, March 16, 2014. (Photo by Vincent D. Johnson)

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