ENGLEWOOD — For the fourth year in a row, every senior at Urban Prep Academy's Englewood campus has been accepted into a four-year college or university.
Now, the school's success is spreading.
Seniors at Urban Prep's West Side campus also had a 100 percent acceptance rate to four-year institutions, school founder Tim King said at a news conference Thursday.
"We did it again, Urban Prep. We are sending all our seniors to a four-year college or university. That is something every high school in Chicago cannot say year after year," King said. "These 163 seniors are not going to prison or jail, but to college, and that is worth celebrating."
Besides its flagship Englewood campus, 6201 S. Stewart Ave., and its West Side campus, 1326 W. 14th Place, Urban Prep also has a third campus at 2710 S. Dearborn St. in Bronzeville, where the first graduating class will roll out next year.
There are 76 seniors at the West Side campus and 87 at the Englewood campus, and the majority of the students are black, King said. Seniors at the West Side campus received $619,000 in scholarships, while Englewood grads have been awarded $635,000.
Julius Olalusi, 17, is a senior at the Englewood campus and one of Urban Prep's six Gates Millennium Scholarship finalists. This fall he plans to attend either Morehouse College, Cornell University or the University of Pennsylvania.
"Achieving goals that I set for myself four years ago is a good feeling," said Julius, who wants to study business in college. "Anything is possible if you put your mind to it, stay focused and surround yourself with people who care about you."
One of those people who care is Monica Olalusi, Julius' mom.
"As a single parent, it was hard, but not impossible [to raise a boy]. My biggest challenge all these years was keeping him focused," Monica Olalusi said. "I was able to keep him focused and not making babies, getting arrested or running around with a gang by keeping him in church."
Monica Olalusi didn't give her son a choice about whether to go to church every Sunday and Bible class every Wednesday evening, especially since the teen lived next door to the family's church in West Pullman.
"It's kind of hard not to go when you live so close to church," he said. "But l like it because I believe in God and will always need him in my life to guide me."
Monica Olalusi has another son at the Englewood campus, Joseph, who graduates next year.
"He has one of the highest grade point averages in the school," she said proudly. "I think it's something like 4.3."
Citibank presented King, executive director of Urban Prep Academies, with a $150,000 donation.
"To do what we do at Urban Prep, we have to raise about $2 million a year. It is not easy to raise that kind of money, but with the continued success of our students, it certainly makes it possible to do," King said.
Mayor Rahm Emanuel, appearing at the news conference, praised the adults who helped guide the graduates.
"It just goes to show what can happen to our kids when they are given the right support group to succeed because the most important door children can walk through is not at school, but at home," Emanuel said. "So to all the parents and grandparents of Urban Prep students, I say thank you for a job well done!"