For the third year running, an all-male charter school with students from Chicago’s roughest neighborhoods is sending its entire senior class to college. Urban Prep Academy reports that all 85 seniors graduating from the all-male preparatory school have been accepted to four-year colleges or universities, the third consecutive year an entire senior class has gotten acceptance letters along with their diplomas.
This year’s class also has some standout stars, like Vernon Cheeks, 17, who was accepted to 14 schools, according to CBS Chicago. “It taught me how to be resilient. It also taught me how to be accountable for my own actions,” he told the station of his experience in the standout high school program.
Urban Prep’s success is unusual in its West Side neighborhood, which sees disproportionately high rates of violent crime so severe that parents requested heightened protection for academy students earlier this year, amid concerns that gang territories were advancing on the school.
“[In] this volatile, violent area, these are like lambs surrounded by wolves, and that shouldn’t be,” the grandmother of a student told ABC Chicago.
The school’s success has grown exponentially since its founding in 2006, when onlyfour percent of the school’s first freshman class was reading at grade level when they entered.
In 2010, the school sent all 107 graduating seniors directly into college or university programs for the first time.
“No other public [school] in the country has done this,” Urban Prep Academy Founder Tim King said at the time. Continuing that success in 2011 and 2012 makes the school’s performance even more remarkable.
The school also boasts an impressive “persistence” record this year–83 percent of 2010 Urban Prep graduates who went on to college have stayed there, compared to a national average of 35 percent among African-American males, according to the Chicago Tribune.