Graduation time is celebration time, and this year’s class has a lot to celebrate. News of scholarships will continue to roll in over the summer, but already CPS has learned that 31 students have been awarded the prestigious Gates Millennium Scholarship, which pays for all expenses through undergraduate and graduate school. CPS, the third-largest school district in the United States, led the nation in the number of Gates Scholars produced this year.
Eight graduating seniors from the School for Social Justice High School in Little Village will receive full four-year scholarships from Roosevelt University. These scholarships are the culmination of an offer that was extended in 2006 to the first-ever then-freshman class at the School of Social Justice. The value of each scholarship will vary, depending on eligibility for other sources of financial aid, but in many cases it will exceed $80,000 for all four years. Students who decide to live on campus at the university will be eligible for additional housing awards.
Earlier in the year, more than 80 CPS students learned they would receive Posse Scholarships, four-year, full-tuition leadership awards. The Posse Foundation identifies, trains, and sends urban public high school students with extraordinary academic and leadership potential to top-tier colleges. These students, who may have been overlooked by traditional college selection processes, train for and attend college in supportive, multicultural teams of 10, called “Posses.”
Julian, of Jones College Prep, has been named a 2009 Presidential Scholar in the Arts. He is among 141 outstanding high school seniors chosen from across the country who have demonstrated academic achievement, artistic excellence, leadership, citizenship, and community service. Julian has studied opera and classical art song.
Of course, the class of 2009 had a good precedent set by the class of 2008. Of last year’s graduates, 52.5 percent enrolled in college: an increase of 2.5 percent from the year before. CPS’ college enrollment rate is increasing faster than that of the nation as a whole, particularly among African-American students.
In 2004, less than 43 percent of CPS African-American students were going on to college — 18 percentage points behind African-American students in the rest of the country. For the CPS Class of 2008, 53.7 percent of African-American graduates enrolled in college, almost closing the gap with their peers across the nation, who was at 54.9 percent.