All Graduates of Chicago Charter School Accepted into Colleges Third Year in a Row

It’s not very common that you hear about a high school whose entire senior class is going to attend college after graduation. It’s even more uncommon for that school to be in Chicago, an area that has a long history of education challenges. Considering these facts, I think it is fair to say that it is unheard of for a school facing these obstacles to accomplish this feat for three years in a row, but that is exactly what Urban Prep Academy has done.

The all-boys charter school is happy to report that all 85 members of the Class of 2012 have been accepted to colleges and universities across the country. There were even some standout students, like Vernon Cheeks, who were accepted to multiple schools; Cheeks was accepted to 14 different schools.

“It taught me how to be resilient,” Cheeks said about his time at Urban Prep Academy. “It also taught me how to be accountable for my own actions.”

The school is located in a neighborhood with a very high crime rate and is the middle of gang terrorizes. However, that hasn’t stopped the school or its students from succeeding. Founded in 2006, Urban Prep Academy has taken young men and helped them transition from barely reading at grade level to excelling and being accepted to university.

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Students in Chicago Face Longer School Days

chicago school signAfter the two-week long winter break, most students are not exactly excited to go back to school. However, the complete opposite was true in Ashley Tam’s third grade math class at Genevieve Melody Elementary School in Chicago. When Tam asked a question on the second day back from break, all twenty students immediately threw their hands in the air, begging to be the one to give the answer. What makes this even more surprising is the fact that the students were not only readjusting to being in class after their break, they were also adjusting to a longer school day. Melody Elementary School is the 13th public school in Chicago to lengthen its school-day to last 7.5 hours, instead of the traditional 5 hour and 45 minutes schedule.

“I think the kids have adapted faster than we have,” said Tiffany Tillman, the assistant principal at the elementary school.

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Mentoring Program in Chicago Helps Children Succeed

For Rodzae James, an 11-year old in Chicago, life is rough. He lives in a run-down neighborhood where the kids are not expected to really do much with their lives. But James has hope for his future because he has a few good role models to look up to.

“I look up to my brother because he was the first boy on my block to go to college,” James said.

In addition to his brother, James also has a mentor, Justen Boyd, who encourages him to reach for his dreams. Boyd is a a graduate student at Aurora University; he is also family advocate at Family Focus Lawdale who mentors five students at Goldblatt Elementary School, where James goes to school. In addition, Boyd meets with students at two other elementary schools in Chicago.

“A lot of [these boys] don’t have fathers at home,” Boyd said. “So having me around gives them a positive male influence.”

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New School Breakfast Program Feeds Kids, but Provides Only Junk Food

For a long time, we have known that eating breakfast before school is a very good thing for students. Eating breakfast gives your body and brain the nutrients that it needs to work hard and stay going all day. Unfortunately, many students do not eat breakfast before going to school. For some, it is a lack of time in the morning; for others, it might be the financial usability to afford breakfast foods.

This problem was very apparent in Chicago Public School’s elementary schools. So, when the Chicago Board of Education passed a new program called Breakfast in the Classroom, it seemed like a good idea. The program was created to ensure that all Chicago elementary students get to eat breakfast by creating a 10-minute period at the beginning of the day when students are expected to eat a pre-made school breakfast.

There was already a pre-class breakfast program in many of these schools, but attendance was low to modest, CPS claims due to the stigma that was attached to the program: “only low-income students eat school breakfast.” Also, CPS said that many children preferred to play outside during the mornings or did not get to school early enough.

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Chicago Finds its Schools Are Failing

chicago-city-scapeEach year, Chicago public school officials assign every school in their jurisdiction with a grade, from A to F. According to the system’s report, more than 40 percent of public schools are failing, reported The Chicago Tribune. Many of the schools have failed to meet the Federal standards set by No Child Left Behind.

The grades of individual schools have not been released by the district. School Chef Ron Huberman said that he doesn’t feel the grades are wrong, just that they don’t show the whole picture. “It’s not that I think it’s flawed, but I think it can be better and more nuanced,” he said. Others agree that a single letter grade cannot account for the intricacy of problems faced by the Chicago schools. Huberman further said that he wants to wait to release the full report, so that it can be accompanied by a plan to make improvements.

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Underprivileged Students in Chicago Get the Opportunity of a Lifetime

no child left behindJust because students attended low-scoring elementary schools in Chicago doesn’t mean they can’t succeed in high school. Thanks to the No Child Left Behind Law, four selective-enrollment high schools in Chicago are accepting 100 top students from these low-scoring schools. These high schools are some of “the highest-scoring and most sought-after high schools in Chicago,” according to the Chicago Sun Times.

For students who now get to attend these schools, it is the opportunity of a lifetime. These college prep schools will offer the students more chances to succeed and improve their chances of attending college.

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Swine Flu Shuts Down Schools

swine-fluSome students are starting summer break early, but not for a good reason. Numerous schools across the nation are shutting down to prevent the spread of the swine flu (WHO has requested it be renamed H1N1). The swine flu is a strain of the flu virus that usually just affects pigs. However, new mutated strain has surfaced and is now infecting humans. The symptoms are similar to a normal flu, and include fever, cough, sore throat, body aches, chills, and fatigue.

The swine flu originated in Mexico, where more than 1,600 people are infected and more than 150 are suspected to have died from it. The first U.S. death occurred in Texas on Wednesday, April 29. On Friday, there were more than 220 reported cases of swine flu in the United States, infecting people in 30 states. The swine flu is also spreading to Europe, South America, and Asia, affected a total of 19 continents. It has been deemed a level 6 disease by WHO, which means it is widespread around the world. Read the rest of this entry »


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