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4 Years After 'Wild' Viral Video, South Chicago School Sees Huge Turnaround

By Alex Nitkin | November 5, 2015 5:32am
 Chicago Vocational Career Academy.
Chicago Vocational Career Academy.
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DNAinfo/Alex Nitkin

SOUTH CHICAGO — On Tuesday, gossip blog MediaTakeOut released a two-minute video showing a group of students at Chicago Vocational Career Academy, 2100 E 87th St., screaming and threatening a substitute teacher. A day later, the video had been seen more than 15 million times, amassing tens of thousands comments offering a hodgepodge of opinions on what the scene said about race, education and violence in the United States.

Viewers couldn't see, though, that the video was taken more than four years ago.

CVCA junior Keith Griffin could tell immediately.

"Well, for one thing, the kids in that video weren't wearing uniforms," the 16-year-old smirked as he walked out of his Wednesday classes.

Chicago Teens TERRORIZE Substitute Teacher . . . The Poor Teacher Is SCARED TO DEATH . . . She's Trying To BE STRONG . . . But You See The FEAR IN HER FACE!!

Posted by Mediatakeout on Monday, November 2, 2015

School uniforms were among a host of reforms brought on by a new administration that took over the school in 2011. Since then, under the management of Principal Douglas Maclin, students and administrators say the school's climate has taken a sharp turn for the better.

"Under our administration, disciplinary actions have been reduced from 1,149 a year to 146 a year," Maclin wrote in a statement posted on the school's website. "This video does not, in any way, reflect the current climate; this is not the CVCA way."

Griffin wholeheartedly agreed, saying the "shocking" video showed a school he barely recognized.

"It's just not wild like that anymore ... students respect one another, and students respect the teachers," Griffin said. "It used to be like that, but not at the new CVS."

The "new CVS" is a buzzword many students repeated as they poured out of the school Wednesday afternoon. It describes new policies, like "APB" ("attendance, participation, behavior") that they say have made the school a friendlier environment to students and teachers.

To Tracy, a member of the school's Blue & Gold alumni association who declined to give his last name, the term "new CVS" speaks far beyond the school's discipline policy.

"Since that old administration left and the new one came in, you just saw this massive shift — everything started to change," Tracy said. "You started to see more community outreach, and suddenly alumni and parents became a lot more involved."

"Now we have an atmosphere where we reinforce to our students that they're in charge of their own destiny — that it's something not even that video can tarnish," he added.

The unwelcome attention brought by the video, student Keyanna McGee agreed, won't take away the progress they've made.

"The principal, he's trying to make us better. He's giving us help, and he's helping us get our grades up," McGee said. "We're just trying to be a better school. And the video isn't helping."

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