Similar to its namesake, Chicago Bulls College Prep has all-star caliber performers—but these stars show up in the classroom instead of on the basketball court. Since 2013, the school has had 100 percent college acceptance for its senior class. And, the Class of 2017 continues the streak.
Chicago Bulls College Prep, 2040 W. Adams St., honors its seniors who have received college acceptance letters by giving each student a special distinction – a red polo shirt. Kasie McElroy, Assistant Principal for 11th and 12th grade students at Chicago Bulls College Prep, said the purpose of the red polos is to instill a level of pride in the students for their academic growth.
“Admissions and college readiness, we generally try to make everything focused around that mission and that’s why students are here, that’s what students are invested in, and so that’s why we try to tie those two,” said McElroy.
McElroy said the Class of 2017 made school history by being the first to receive an acceptance into the QuestBridge Scholars Network, a platform used to connect the brightest students from low-income backgrounds with prestigious learning institutions, among other outstanding programs.
Seniors aren’t forgotten once they wear their caps and gowns. Chicago Bulls College Prep hosts a collegial seminar class that helps support seniors with college applications, apply for financial aid and more, according to McElroy. Additionally, the school has two full-time alumni coordinators whose assignment is to stay in contact with students throughout their academic careers.
Not all of the students who attend Chicago Bulls Prep live within the neighborhood, in fact, several travel great distances to be a part of the school’s unique culture and learning experience. At least two such students have flourished during their time at Chicago Bulls Prep while living outside the neighborhood.
Chicago Bulls Prep Senior Aloni Harris woke up at 5 a.m. every morning to commute from her home in the Roseland neighborhood. She explained Chicago Bulls Prep has prepared her to attend the college of her choice – Yale University. Yale was selected from Harris’ top three choices, which included Georgetown University and Duke University. She said one of her teachers who attended Yale gave her an inside peek into the Ivy League school’s culture and network. She said she intends on majoring in Political Science and African American Studies.
“I feel like a student who attends this school [Chicago Bulls Prep] will feel more comfortable admitting when they don’t understand something or not feel afraid to stand out and be different from everybody else, and I feel like that’s an important thing when you go out to the world and not just in school but as you go further,” said Harris.
“No fear, no embarrassment, make each other better,” is one of the school’s mantras, according to Harris.
Harris’ younger teenage sister is enrolled in another Noble Charter school, but her big sister is already recruiting her to attend Chicago Bulls Prep.
“If she came to Chicago Bulls Prep, I think that would be better because that’s my school and I love them here,” said Harris.
Chicago Bulls Prep Senior Keiyon Walton became a “Renaissance Man” while attending the school. He said he honed his self-taught piano skills, learned how to play cello, played football, basketball, track & field, and was a school ambassador during his tenure.
“One thing I hold to heart is the character I built here,” said Walton, who stated in years past he wasn’t the leader he is today.
The North Lawndale native will be attending Wheaton College in the fall where he plans to major in a physical therapy field with minors in music theory and performance. He said his football coach and school staff helped him make his decision. He said he will continue his football career as well. His parting words to his classmates were to continue to work hard throughout their scholastic journey because it will be worth the effort in the end. He said his younger sister, who is a rising junior at Chicago Bulls Prep, will be one of the reasons he stays connected to the school.