Urban Prep is the only all-male, all-African American high school in the city, and the students come from some of the roughest parts of Chicago's South and West Sides. Only 11 percent of the school's seniors were reading at grade level when they arrived on campus four years ago.
Mayor Richard M. Daley was on hand for the final tie-exchange ritual that now marks the senior year experience at Urban Prep. When a student receives an acceptance letter, he exchanges his standard red uniform tie for a red-and-gold one.
So what makes Urban Prep work? The Chicago Tribune writes:
Through a rigorous academic environment, including required double periods of English and longer school days, and strict uniform and code-of-conduct policies, students are kept on track. Staff also are available at all hours and weekends to drive kids home or provide extra academic help outside the classroom.
Of last year's 107 seniors, 101 ultimately attended a college they were accepted to; three joined the military, and three started working.
Urban Prep is a public charter high school that admits students via lottery. The school's three campuses are in the city's East Garfield Park, South Shore and Englewood neighborhoods.