New West Side school provides hope for students

January 4, 2010 3:47:02 PM PST
The cost of a college education is on the rise and the number of students who can afford it is on the decline. That's especially true for the economically disadvantaged. But on Chicago's West Side Monday students began classes in a brand new high school building where they can pursue those college dreams.

The brand new Christ The King High School opened Monday morning on Jackson Boulevard in the Austin neighborhood - twenty eight million dollars worth of state of the art educational facilities. The school is in an area where less than half of the students finish high school. But every kid here plans to graduate and then go on to college. And it's all happening because of dedication and long, hard hours of work.

"It pays off because it shows me that I can achieve. I'm doing it... I can do what I plan to do?go to college and become a very successful lawyer," said Michael White, sophomore, Christ The King High School.

Try to picture yourself as a young kid growing up on the West Side in the very tough Austin neighborhood. Your chances of going to college are very slim. But then along comes Christ the King High School with a very interesting concept for education.

This is a special type of Jesuit Prep School. It's one of 24 such schools across the country. It gives low income kids a great high school education that leads to college. Here how it works. The youngsters put in four long days in the classroom and then one day each week working for a Chicago-area business which in turn pays over half of the student's tuition. "So we're just giving them a chance. We're holding them to high standards. They have to work twice as hard as kids who maybe have had opportunities earlier in their lives," said Fr. Christopher Devron, president, Christ The King High School.

The school has just 168 freshmen and sophomores now. Ultimately there will be 600 four year students. They will have plenty of work plus a lot fun - plus their dreams of what lies ahead.

"Owning my own business. Owning five of my own businesses. Like five. I want to be an entrepreneur," said Emmanuel Cobb, future businessman.

"Twenty years from now I plan to be a professional veterinarian and yes I am going to come back to the community," said Reagan Tyson, Christ The King sophomore.

Only dedicated students with dedicated parents are accepted. But once they're here they're on their way.