Via: Chicago Tribune
Every Urban Prep Senior Is
Four years ago, Bryant Alexander watched his mother weep.
She stared down at a muddle of D’s and F’s on his eighth-grade report card and threatened to kick him out. He had barely passed elementary school, and high school wasn’t even on his radar.
“Something just clicked,” Alexander, now 18, said. “I knew I had to do something.”
On Friday, Alexander proudly swapped his high school’s red uniform tie for a striped red and gold one — the ritual at Englewood’s Urban Prep Academy for Young Men that signifies a student has been accepted into college.
As the Roseland resident and 12 others tied their knots, Chicago’s only public all-male, all-African-American high school fulfilled its mission: 100 percent of its first senior class had been accepted to four-year colleges.
Mayor Richard Daley and city schools chief Ron Huberman surprised students at the all-school assembly Friday morning with congratulations, and school leaders announced that as a reward, prom would be free.
The achievement might not merit a visit from top brass if it happened at one of the city’s elite, selective enrollment high schools. But Urban Prep, a charter school that enrolls all comers in one of Chicago’s most beleaguered neighborhoods, faced much more difficult odds.
Only 4 percent of this year’s senior class read at grade level as freshmen, said Tim King, the school’s founder and CEO.
“There were those who told me that you can’t defy the data,” King said. “Black boys are killed. Black boys drop out of high school. Black boys go to jail. Black boys don’t go to college. Black boys don’t graduate from college.
“They were wrong,” he said.