ENGLEWOOD — For the second time in less than a year, the Magic Johnson Bridgescape Academies has opened an alternative high school on the South Side.
The schools are part of the Chicago Public Schools Alternative Learning Opportunity Program.
Senior Sasha Clemons, 17, is among the 75 students enrolled at the new campus. She attended Kenwood Academy High School as a junior and Oak Park-River Forest High School for her freshman and sophomore years.
"I started getting with the wrong crowd and not going to school when I was at Kenwood and Oak Park," Clemons said. "This is my last year in high school and I need a different setting so I can concentrate on my school work."
The Hyde Park resident said she chose Bridgescape over other schools because she had a friend who attended the alternative school and graduated.
"My friend said she was able to get herself together by coming to Magic Johnson and said it was a good place to get caught up," Clemons said. "Now that I am here I agree with my friend. This is the best fit for me. I get to pick the time I want to come to school and I am not here all day."
Students get to choose which session they want to attend. There is a morning session from 7:30-11:30 a.m. Monday through Friday, and an afternoon session from noon-4 p.m., which Clemons attends.
"All of our classes are online and it's quiet here. I don't have all those distractions I had when I attended other schools," Clemons said.
After graduating, Clemons said she plans to go to college and study business management before becoming an entrepreneur.
"I want to own some stores and restaurants when I finish college," she said.
The school has capacity for 100 students and registration is still open for students age 13 to 21, said Veriner James, program director for the Englewood campus.
"We don't want to turn any student away but it is our preference that a student has experienced at least one year at a traditional high school," James said. "We do not give homework either because we know not all students have computers at home. All of their school work is completed while they are here."
In June, a graduation ceremony will be held for all students who graduated from one of school's four campuses located in Roseland, North Lawndale, Humboldt Park and Englewood.
Students who earn diplomas from the alternative school will have the high school in their neighborhood listed on the diploma, per CPS policy.
Students 18 and older can register without their parents but should bring valid identification — such as a driver's license, state ID or passport — as well as a birth certificate and a piece of mail, such as a utility bill, received in the last 30 days. Official transcripts will also be obtained and immunizations must be current.
James added that students must withdraw from their previous school and be able to earn all their missing credits by age 21 to be accepted. All mandated courses — from English and chemistry, to world history and algebra — are offered at Magic Johnson, said James, a former teacher at Holy Angels Elementary School in Bronzeville.
"Our goal is to help as many students as possible earn their high school diploma," James said.
There are also Magic Johnson Bridgescape campuses in New Jersey, North Carolina, Ohio and Virginia.
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