About WPCP

Walter Payton College Preparatory High School is a selective enrollment public high school and an international model for global teaching and learning. Since its inception in 2000, Payton Prep has become the quintessential space for student discovery, intellectual curiosity, and international exploration. Nestled in the heart of downtown Chicago, Payton has a distinguished and award-winning reputation for its world-class math, science, world-language, humanities, fine arts, and adventure education programs.

On any given day, one would find Payton students eagerly embracing the rigors of an all honors and advanced placement curriculum, working collaboratively with their peers, teachers, and national authorities on solving real-world problems, or videoconferencing with one of Payton’s many sister schools around the world. Although Payton Prep takes great pride in its proven ability to prepare students for success in tier one postsecondary institutions – and beyond – it is the deliberate attention given to the process of cultivating the whole child that separates Payton from other peer institutions of learning.

In addition to the portfolio of challenging academic courses, Payton students participate in an array of student driven clubs, extracurricular activities, and a host of competitive sports programs. Global destinations like France, Germany, Spain, Brazil, Czech Republic, China, and South Africa have become Payton’s outdoor classrooms, as hundreds of students participate in global exchange programs and international studies. Payton students also engage in international exploration in the world’s only high school to house a Confucius Institute, designed to support the growth of the school’s Mandarin Chinese Language Program. Payton’s Seminar Program provides students with a unique opportunity to de-stress; students frequently participate in seminars ranging from horseback riding, Improv comedy, Pilates, Math Modeling, and Bridge Building, to Exploring Harry Potter, Judo, Morningstar, and Beginning Acoustic Guitar – just to name a few.

When combined with Payton’s unwavering commitment to service and community engagement, graduates of Payton enter the real world with the courage to embrace any challenge, the moral character needed to thrive in a society full of compromises, the compassion to fight for social equality, and the curiosity to literally change the world. Diverse students from across the city of Chicago apply to Payton for many different reasons:

…some are impressed by the accolades…
  • 2014 and 2008 National Blue Ribbon Award
  • U.S. News and World Report’s Top 100 High Schools
  • Newsweek Top 100 High Schools
  • Goldman-Sachs Foundation Prize in Excellence in International Education
  • #1 International High School in the United States
  • Intel School of Distinction 2010
  • Intel 2010 “Star Innovator” Award

…some are attracted by the data…
  • Average ACT score of 29.7
  • College attendance rate of 99%
  • Over 10 million dollars of scholarship funding awarded to the class of 2014
  • Over 1,500 AP exams taken by the class of 2014
  • 89% of all students earn an AP exam score of 3 or higher
  • 11 National Merit and 1 National Achievement Semi-Finalists (Class of 2014)

…and other students are attracted to Payton for its diverse student and staff populations, its competitive and nationally recognized math, science, and debate teams, or the world renowned jazz band, concert choir, and drama program; but after spending four years living the Payton experience, students eventually realize that Walter Payton College Preparatory High School is an amazing and safe place to learn because of the faculty, staff, and parents who are relentlessly committed to nurturing the great minds and leaders of tomorrow.

Mission Statement

Our traits… Who we are… What we do…
Curiosity Inquisitive, creative, and skeptical problem solver who can formulate and articulate complex ideas
  • Access, analyze, interpret, and evaluate multiple arguments and sources of evidence for our ideas and positions
  • Discover patterns in facts, theories, and behaviors withinand across disciplines
  • Discover our passions and follow them
Character Ethical and engaged representatives of our local and global communities
  • Act with integrity
  • Take responsibility for our personal growth and development
Courage Appropriately disruptive of the status quo
  • Face our fears and challenge our conventional wisdoms
  • Respond to setbacks and constraints with resilience and determination
  • Strive for social justic
Compassion Empathetic to the physical, emotional, social, and intellectual well-being of ourselves and others
  • Appreciate differences in perspective, privilege, background, culture, and circumstance
  • Serve others

Striving for these traits, values, and habits positions all of us to become effective innovators.