Comyia Durden was a little nervous about her first day of high school at Johnson College Prep, 6350 S. Stewart Ave. in Chicago’s Englewood neighborhood the week of Aug. 20 is a freshman orientation.
An alumna of Marquette Park’s Fairfield Academy, Durden described her first day at JCP as “strict.”
“I’m really not used to it,” she said of the ultra-regimented academic environment.
Interested in a career in music producing, Durden is confident the structure at JCP will prepare her for her future goals.
“I know I need this type of discipline,” she told the Chicago Citizen.
JCP, which opened in 2010, is one of 12 schools in the Noble Network of Charter Schools that is working to expand quality education options for Chicago students. JCP’s current student population is currently 98 percent minority, 92 percent low income and 13 percent special education.
Providing quality education to underserved students is important at JCP. Garland Thomas, Ph.D., the school’s principal believes that a quality education is a necessity for students to “access a better future.”
Thomas encourages students who are eager to attend college to consider attending JCP. The school specializes in building students who are ready to challenge themselves scholastically, but who may not be selected to attend more academically competitive schools.
Quality education is also stressed at JCP through their teacher hiring process.
“Within the Noble network we seek the higher experienced teachers, people who have a track record for getting results with kids and who align with our beliefs and our motto,” Thomas said.
Noble is a non-selective, multi-campus network serving 7,500 students at 12 campuses. Noble opened its first campus—Noble Street College Prep — in 1999. There are not testing or tuition requirements at any of Noble’s campuses. However, students must be have already graduated from eighth grade graduates and reside in the city of Chicago.
Charter schools are free, public schools that are independently operated. As a result, charter schools have more control over their curriculum and can implement a longer school day and longer school year.
Nearly 10 percent of CPS high school students now attend charter high schools, and many of these schools, while relatively new, are demonstrating success, according to the Illinois Network of Charter Schools.
JCP is the namesake of John and Eunice Johnson, founders of Johnson Publishing Company which publishes Ebony and Jet magazines. The Johnsons were also the African Americans to appear on the Forbes 400 list.
JCP has a total enrollment of 650 for the 2012-2013 school year and the school day is 8 1/2 hours (7:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.).
The school has a rigorous four year college preparatory program. All scholars take the equivalent of six years of English and math, four years of natural sciences and four years of social sciences, according to JCP’s website. Students also receive intensive instruction in a foreign language, physical education and a host of elective choices throughout their high school career.
Students can receive demerits for not following school rules but are also rewarded with Puma points—a type of school rewards system scholarly behavior is exemplified.
Besides two new campuses that opened Aug. 2012, all Noble high schools are ranked in the top 10 of open enrollment public high schools in Chicago and more than 85 percent of alumni go on to college each year.
JCP upperclassmen start school Aug. 27 and will freshmen, sophomores, and juniors during the 2012-2013 school year. The school will graduate its first senior class in spring 2014.
By Thelma Sardin