Entire Graduating Class of Urban Prep Charter Academy Accepted to College
All 107 seniors of a Chicago charter school were accepted to four-year colleges.
March 12, 2010— -- Chicago's Urban Prep Charter Academy has a mission -- for its students to graduate and succeed in college. Now, for the first graduating class at the high school, it's mission accomplished.
All 107 seniors were accepted to a four-year college, a significant accomplishment considering they are from one of the toughest neighborhoods on the South Side of Chicago.
These are not so-called gifted kids at a private school. The public high school is open to all, choosing students by a lottery.
"It doesn't just happen that public urban schools graduate all of their students and get them into college," said Tim King, the school's founder.
Just four years ago, when King started the school, only 4 percent of the class was reading at grade level.
So how did they overcome the odds? King created a school that excused nothing -- and expected everything.
Each new freshman starting school gets his own wristwatch to keep track of time.
"Kids would be late and say they didn't know what time it was," King said. "Part of our creed reads [that] we make no excuses, so we wanted to remove that excuse. ... There was no excuse for me being late. "
Students attend school from 8:30 a.m. until 4:30pm. That's 72,000 more minutes in high school than most other students -- almost an extra school year.
"They are in a double period of English each and every day," King said. "Four years of math, four years of science, four years of social studies, three years of foreign languages."
"It's an eight-hour day so it's basically preparing us for having a job," said Ahmad Wright, a student at the school. "I think that's a plus and a motivation."
"If that's what it's going to take to get to where we want to be," student Marlon Marshall said, "then I am willing to deal with it."
Urban Prep Charter Academy was the first all-male charter school in the country. It is all male to eliminate distractions from female students.
The school isn't limited to African American students, but it reflects the makeup of the neighborhood.
"Data in Chicago show 2.5 percent of African American boys will make it through college," King said, adding that he's painfully aware of the challenges the students face.