Jesuits open college prep on West Side

CHICAGO It was designed for Latino students who otherwise couldn't afford a college prep education. The school has been so successful that there are now 22 of them across America.

On Monday in Chicago, the first such school for African-Americans opened on the West Side.

It was more than just a first day of school. It was the beginning of hope realized. Christ the King College Prep opened Monday morning in an old grade school on the West Side. Next year they move to their new facility. And what the Cristo Rey schools have done for Latinos, the Jesuits say Christ the King will do for young African-Americans.

"It's a Jesuit, Catholic college prep high school on the West Side in Austin...for kids whose families couldn't afford this type of school," said Fr. Christopher Devron S.J., president, Christ the King College Prep.

"I think Christ the King is about to make history," said Erick Brown, freshman, Christ the King College Prep.

One-hundred and twenty freshmen were at school on the first day of chasing dreams.

Christopher Gardner was also there. He went from homeless to CEO of his own company and wrote "The Pursuit Of Happiness." Will Smith played Gardner In the hit movie.

"Don't ever let somebody else tell you can't do it. If you've got a dream...go get it," said Gardner.

And that's exactly what they're doing in a very unusual type of school. Four days a week they're in the classroom. The other day they're in the work world.

Tuition at Christ the King is over $13,000. The school has partnered with Chicago business and industry. Each student works one full day at a job. The companies then pay the school 75 percent of the tuition.

So they still pay something but to dream is free.

Ninety-eight percent of the Cristo Rey graduates move on to college. They say the same will be true at Christ the King.

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