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As College Prep seniors look ahead, some see UIC in future

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UIC College Prep students

Thirty-two UIC College Prep seniors nominated for the President's Award Program scholarship were honored last week at a ceremony hosted by UIC Chancellor Paula Allen-Meares (center). Honorees included: Angelique Torres (clockwise), Salud Santoyo, Yadira Sanchez, Taylor Holley, Patty Murillo and Jesus Garcia.

Photo: Roberta Dupuis-Devlin

The high school experience is about to come full circle for seniors at UIC College Prep.

In 2008, members of the charter school’s inaugural class walked through the doors of the UIC Forum, ready to begin their high school careers.

More than 150 students will walk in those doors again June 9 — and they’ll walk out high school graduates, ready for the next step.

Their relationship with UIC doesn’t have to end when they graduate. Ninety-four UIC College Prep students have been admitted for undergraduate studies.

“We are very excited about our student acceptances to University of Illinois at Chicago,” said Tressie McDonough, principal of UIC College Prep. “We know that this is a great option for many of our scholars and could not be more pleased that their hard work is finally coming to fruition.”

Thirty-two UIC College Prep students are nominated for the university’s President's Award Program scholarship, a merit-based award that starts at $5,000 per year.

“It’s been six years that we’ve been waiting for them — two years of planning the school and four years of high school,” said Lon Kaufman, vice chancellor for academic affairs and provost. “It’s a very long dream come true.”

Working together
UIC College Prep, which has a special focus on the health sciences, is a collaboration between UIC and the Noble Network of Charter Schools. UIC faculty help develop the curriculum and Noble Street runs the day-to-day operations.

The model has proven successful, Kaufman said. “It’s been better than what we envisioned.”

When the school opened, renovations to the building at 1231 S. Damen Ave., formerly Gladstone Elementary, weren’t done, so the first two weeks of classes were held in the UIC Forum. Since then, students have made frequent field trips to campus, said James Lynn, director of the Office of High School Development.

UIC College Prep students study traditional high school subjects, but what’s unique is the health sciences curriculum, which teaches students to solve problem-based case studies, Lynn said.

“They are 14 and 15 years old, engaging in case studies very much like students would do in medical school,” he said.

Students visit the west side of campus often. They’ve made thumb impressions at the College of Dentistry from materials dentists use to make impressions of teeth. They’ve learned how to use automated external defibrillators at the College of Nursing. They’ve talked with faculty and students about what it’s like to be in college.

“The health sciences curriculum is really world-class,” Lynn said. “It’s definitely one of the hallmark features of the school.

“The donation of talent and time by professors in the medical district is awesome.”

The school’s partnership with UIC isn’t limited to the health sciences, Kaufman said.

For example, when one-third of College Prep sophomores scored high enough on the UIC freshman composition placement exam to place into the college-level course, English faculty members developed a two-year curriculum for them, Kaufman said.

“They are doing really well,” he said of the high schoolers.

“They’ve completed a uniquely rigorous curriculum.”

Student success
UIC College Prep is an open-enrollment school, which means any student who lives in Chicago can apply. Once the number of applicants exceeds the number of available spots, students are selected by lottery.

The school’s reputation of excellence is evident in the demand for those spots, Lynn said. Applications have risen from 440 for the school’s inaugural class to 1,477 applicants this year for 230 spots, he said.

UIC College Prep students have set milestones. As a whole, the 2012 class scored a 21.2 composite average on the ACT — the highest mark ever for an open-enrollment school in the Chicago Public Schools system.

About 90 percent of students have been accepted to college so far, Lynn said.

“It’s been an absolute, tremendous success,” Lynn said. “The school did a really nice job making them college and career ready.

“They have outstanding teachers, and the partnership with UIC has really made them ready for college.”


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