by Paulette Simone
For New Pittsburgh Courier
(NNPA)—A group of 107 graduating seniors from the Urban Academy for Young Men in Englewood, Chicago is celebrating a great success: every young man in the school’s first graduating class has been accepted into a four-year-college.
The bar for students is held high at Urban Prep, an all-African-American male charter school founded in 2006 and situated in one of Chicago’s troubled areas.
“Only 4 percent of this year’s senior class read at grade level as freshmen.” Tim King, the school’s CEO, told the Chicago Tribune. “I never had a doubt that we would achieve this goal. Every single person we hired knew from day one that this is what we do—we get our kids into college.”
To promote their success, students are appointed college mentors before they step foot into their high school freshmen classes.
Students at Urban Prep must complete approximately twice the amount of English credit hours as other city schools, and they must also attend school for 170,000 more minutes over their four-year high school career than regular students.
At a morning assembly, Chicago Mayor Richard Daley and Chicago Chief of Public Schools Ron Huberman spoke with the Urban Prep class of 2010.
“I am honored to celebrate the accomplishments of 107 very outstanding young men. Urban Prep Academy serves as an inspiration to us all and demonstrates that we are at a turning point in public education in Chicago,” Daley said. “These students represent the ‘I Will’ spirit of Chicago. (It’s) a great day for Chicago Public Schools.”
Daley said the success the school and its students have achieved is a testament to the city’s commitment to education.
“All of you in the senior class have shown that what matters is perseverance, what matters is focus, what matters is having a dream and following that dream,” Huberman told the students, according to the Tribune.
Urban Prep senior Jerry Hinds said his dreams have indeed been realized by his acceptance to the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana.
On the night he was informed of the University’s decision, Hinds told the Tribune, “We’re breaking barriers, and that feels great.
Housed in the former Engelwood High School building at 6201 S. Stewart, Urban Prep Englewood is the nation’s first all-boys public charter high school.
(Reprinted from the Afro American.)