Big day in Matteson, and for Dr. Blondean Davis.
The Southland College Preparatory High School is open for business.
Typical high school students wait four years before they march across stage, shake hands with the principal and accept that piece of paper that can make or break a future. The 125 students who opened Southland College Preparatory Charter High School on Thursday did it on the first day of the ninth grade.
"You are not only going to enter, you are going to graduate from college. That is the promise of Southland. That is our commitment to you," Southland CEO Blondean Davis told the students.
"You’re going to have this tangible thing called a quality education," Davis told the class Thursday. "You’re going to think about how, on the first day of Southland, (you) began this transformation."
Earlier in the day, Southland staffers cheered as the students from the Chicago-area’s only suburban charter high school spilled out of school buses. And as beaming parents snapped pictures of embarrassed students, some teenagers admitted they had reservations.
Southland has no football team, no mascot, no school colors. None of them envisioned freshman year would take place inside of Huth Middle School -the school’s temporary home while a larger building in Richton Park is renovated. And there is, of course, the issue of the mandatory uniforms and a school day that lasts until 5 p.m.
In short, it’s not what they pictured when they imagined their first day of high school.
While some private schools may be nervously watching this experiment, they needn’t worry much. Charter schools, by law, must admit students by lottery, randomly, not by ability, grades, or any other mechanism. Top student may still apply to Marian Catholic, the private college prep. school closest to this charter, or any others.
Best of luck to the students at the new charter!