Hales Franciscan High School welcomes girl students for first time

August 19, 2013 2:54:14 PM PDT
Monday was the first day of school for students at Hales Franciscan High School in Chicago's Bronzeville neighborhood and this year the formerly all-boys Catholic school at 49th and Cottage Grove has invited girls to attend for the first time.

It is a school with a great reputation, however recently it has had a difficult time keeping enrollment up, so they have opened the doors up to accept girls.

"I decided to come here because I wanted a fresh, new start and I wanted to see what it's like to begin it and be the first lady of the school," said student Zaria Jones.

"I thought it would be a great opportunity to make history with the first year being co-ed," said student Jailyn Brown.

The male students embraced the school becoming co-ed.

"I thought it was a great opportunity for both males and females to join as a group," said student Timothy Robertson.

"It's nice to see girls walking around, but none of them are really my age, so I'm still focused on the class," said student James Rook.

The student population is at around 120, with girls representing about 12 percent of the student body. The classes are smaller, with more personal instruction.

Lindsay Crump and her mother, Allison, are looking forward to the school year.

"I was excited about the idea of them going co-ed," said parent Allison Fox Crump. "It has a strong history in the community."

"I'm excited to come here, but a little nervous still," said student Lindsey Crump. "New school, new beginning.

"I am a product of a single-gender school, so I do know the pros and cons," said Hales Franciscan principal Erica Brownfield. "The pros is that you are more focused in the single-sex school, however the world is not single-gendered.

The school is recognized for its academics and athletics. Students who graduate from Hales go onto to top-tier colleges across the country. The goal is academic excellence and the mission is to teach.

The all-boys school has had a low enrollment, so making it co-ed is their strategy to keep the doors open, and to provide a quality education to both girls and boys.

"I'm looking forward to expanding the number of girls and then looking across the city for more diversity in the school," said ales Franciscan President Jeff Gray.

In 2002, Hales was at risk of closing, however former Chicago talk show host Jenny Jones came forward to donate over $100,000. Other donors included the Big Shoulders Foundation and former Bulls legend Michael Jordan.

It costs about $7,500 a year to go to the school, but each student can get a grant up to $3,000.

In addition to academics, students are taught structure, discipline, manners and doing the right thing.


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