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Girls' First Day at Hales: 'I Think I'm Going to Like it Here'

By Wendell Hutson | August 20, 2013 7:38am
 Hales Franciscan High School went coed Monday.
Hales Girls
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BRONZEVILLE — Ashanti Jones, one of the first girls to attend Hales Franciscan High School, made a bold prediction after her first day of classes Monday: "I think I'm going to like it here," the 15-year-old said.

Jones said even though there were just 10 girls at the historically all-boys Catholic school, she was making friends easily, and boys were taking it in stride.

"My first class was U.S. history, and there were three other girls in the class, and like 15 boys,"  Ashanti said. "My cousin was in my class with me, and we made friends with the other girl in class. The boys were pretty cool about the whole coed thing."

Ashanti's reaction to the first day was welcome news to her mother, Bonita Parr. Parr said she was surprised to see that her daughter wanted to stay at Hales.

"I did not think she would like it as much as I do,'' Parr said. "Hales is a great school, and this is a good opportunity for her. She had a lot of friends at her other school, but it looks like she's making new friends at Hales."

In July, the school's Board of Trustees voted to allow the school at 4930 S. Cottage Grove Ave. to open its doors to girls for the first time since its 1962 inception.

Ladasha Johnson, 15, of West Garfield Park, added that even though there are only a few girls at Hales, "We all bonded today, and now we are all friends."

Zaria Jones transferred to Hales from Muchin College Preparatory High School to seek "a new and better environment," said the 16-year-old junior, who lives in Auburn Gresham.

"The first day was not bad. The boys treated me nice, although I did feel alone in class since there were only three girls in class," Zaria said.

Darlene Durham, Zaria's mother, said she sent her daughter to Hales because junior year was so important, but also because Leo Catholic High School was not coed.

Leo "is closer to our home, and I would definitely have sent her there if girls were allowed," Durham said. "Junior year is a strong year for students, and I wanted to make sure she was at the best possible place to start preparing for college."

Although there are only 10 girls at the school, the count could grow. Principal Erica Brownfield said admission applications still are being accepted for girls and boys.

"I anticipate more girls coming to Hales this school year," she said.