Great story, I was about in tears when I finished it. Here’s the first part; click the link for the rest of it:
CHICAGO – For each boy, the new school offered an escape and a chance at a life that seemed beyond reach.
Krishaun Branch was getting D’s, smoking reefer a lot, skipping school twice a week. His mother was too busy working to know what he was doing. He liked to hang out in the streets; having relatives in gangs was his armor.
When a young man came to tell his eighth-grade class about a new high school on Chicago’s South Side, Krishaun wanted no part of it — until he heard students would have laptops. Suddenly, he was on board.
Marlon Marshall was nonchalant about everything, school included. His mother pressed him to go to college, but it seemed like a pipe dream. Sometimes she’d yell at him and his brothers for his bad grades. Once she just cried when she picked up their report cards.
Marlon had heard, too, about the new school. Students would be accepted by lottery so his mediocre grades wouldn’t disqualify him. He thought it was worth a shot.
Marcus Bass figured there just had to be something better for him. Barely a teen, he’d been shot at, robbed a couple of times and had seen terrible things in his housing project. His parents argued constantly; life was chaotic.
He was sold by the recruiter’s description of a “different” high school.
Urban Prep would be a charter high school. It would bring together some 150 boys from some of the poorest, gang-ravaged neighborhoods and try to set them on a new track. They’d have strict rules: A longer school day — by two hours. Two classes of English daily. A uniform with jackets and ties.
And Urban Prep had a goal — one that seemed audacious, given that just 4 percent of the Class of 2010 was reading at or above grade level when they arrived at the school in 2006.
In four years, they were told, they’d be heading to college.