Jones College Prep
Jones College Prep is the most diverse selective enrollment high school in the Chicago Public Schools, attracting high-achieving students from across the city. To gain admission, applicants must meet a minimum threshold on the state-administered test and then pass an entrance exam. Recently, slots have been set aside as part of a provision of the No Child Left Behind Act to allow high-achieving students from failing schools to compete for admission. Jones students have received National Merit, National Achievement and National Hispanic Award Programs recognition and have been named Gates Millennium Scholars, Talent Search Winners, Illinois State Scholars and Presidential Scholars in the Arts. The school has received the Illinois Spotlight Award, a designation of Academic Excellence, and it has been named a National Service Learning Leader School and Model Character Education School. It has also received the Siemens Award for Advanced Placement in Math and Science. One hundred percent of JCP students in the classes of 2009 and 2010 were accepted by colleges, and these students received more than $15 million in scholarships.
The school was designated a National Blue Ribbon School in 2006, ranked in the “Top 100 High Schools” by U.S. News & World Report in 2010 and also named one of “America’s Best High Schools” for three consecutive years by U.S. News. The Oppenheimer Family Foundation has awarded JCP numerous Teacher Initiative Grants for creative instruction initiatives.
Since 1998, college preparedness has been JCP’s main focus. The school has integrated core academic disciplines with art and technology, collaborated with businesses and universities and taken advantage of resources in its vibrant community. The high school partners with universities and businesses including the University of Chicago, the Illinois Institute of Technology and Northwestern University.
Teachers possess a clear vision for students. In 2006, the American School Board Journal noted that when former principal Donald Fraynd first arrived at the school in 2002, he asked teachers to describe the ideal high school graduate. Based on their answers, the school compiled “The Profile of the Ideal Graduate,” a comprehensive list of traits and skills graduating seniors should have along with their diplomas. The list calls for socially skilled and mature, compassionate, socially just and responsible, well-rounded, and holistic and intellectually competent graduates. Teachers, administrators and staff refer to this profile in making decisions about curriculum, instruction, activities and programming.1
JCP’s special education department does a terrific job catering to the needs of individual students. The department’s Low Incidence Program meets students’ academic needs and improves their interpersonal skills. And through the department’s Resource Program, special education teachers provide small-group or individualized instruction and meet with students’ general education teachers to chart a successful future for all students.
Extracurricular activities abound at Jones: The school offers more than 35 clubs and organizations. Its Gay-Straight Alliance had more than 100 members in 2008 when the club gained notice for contesting the city's lack of resources and supports for gay youth. At least one Jones student headed up a “green prom” initiative, suggesting the school rent floral arrangements, send paperless invitations and have girls wear dresses made from organic materials. The Rube Goldberg club competes against other area schools to design machines to accomplish certain tasks in a challenge sponsored by Argonne National Laboratory. One recent competition involved designing a contraption to replace a conventional incandescent light bulb with a more energy-efficient bulb. The hitch was that teams had to incorporate at least 20 steps into the process.
Changes are in store for JCP. A new $111 million, eight-story facility has been approved to be built just south of the school’s current site. The new facility will expand the school’s capacity, allowing for the admission of 900 selective-enrollment students and an additional 300 neighborhood students from the surrounding community. The additional space means that more students can take advantage of the top-notch programs offered at this model school.
¹National School Boards Association. “The Ideal High School Graduate.” American School Board Journal. June 2006.
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