Students, faculty, and parents beamed Friday as each of the 85 seniors from Urban Prep Academy in Chicago stood with Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn to celebrate their acceptance into college. The charter school was established in 2006 to provide a “comprehensive, high-quality college preparatory education” for young African American men and, for the third year in a row, the school can celebrate 100 percent of its graduating class being accepted into college. "I'm the first generation to graduate, and it's really an honor and also I want to continue my family's chapter and history on completing and earning a degree in college," said James McKinley Jackson, the president of the graduating class.
Although the school is often criticized for dropouts leaving to not tarnish the school’s superb record, their consecutive positive numbers defy the negative data about Black males graduating and gaining college educations. According to the College Board, only 28 percent of African American men ages 25 to 34 had obtained an associate’s degree or higher as of 2008. "Urban Prep changed me as a student and as a young man as a whole," said Vernon Cheeks, who has been accepted to Indiana State University. "Mainly, from me becoming an average student and seeking my full potential of being an above-average student."