Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Cristo Rey Jesuit High School in Minneapolis offers "college prep" education to low income students

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(seated, l-r) Michael McNamara, Calvin Belfry, and Abraham Zhanay, student recruits for Cristo Rey’s first class of ninth graders, in the board room of The Ryan Companies with Cristo Rey administrators (standing, l-r) Dr. Kris Melloy, Fr. Bill Johnson, and Mrs. Chris Murphy.
By: Photo courtesy of Cristo Rey
This fall, South Minneapolis will host a new high school. The Cristo Rey High School, a private Catholic institution, will open its doors in September of 2007. Located at 2924 4th Avenue South, the school is designed to accommodate low-income students, which is a main criterion for enrollment.

It will enroll 125 incoming ninth-graders this year in a corporate partnership that requires four days of school weekly and one day of work at one of many corporate locations. The work day helps to pay the students’ tuition and introduces them to the corporate workforce environment.

The school is one of seven new Cristo Rey Jesuit High Schools to open this year, joining 12 already existing sites across the country with an overall enrollment of 2,882. The first facility of its kind to be located in Minnesota, Cristo Rey is a college preparatory school whose primary mission is to help educate economically disadvantaged youth.

Father Bill Johnson, director of admissions, states, “We have a graduation rate of 98 percent, and 95 percent of our students go on to college. There are 27 Jesuit universities located across the country that include Marquette, Georgetown, and Loyola of Chicago.

“We were founded in 1554,” he says of the Jesuit order, “and we do not focus on any particular religion. We are a faith-based establishment, and we feel it is important to welcome all faiths and ethnicities. Our curriculum, however, does include a class on world religion.”

Some parents could be concerned about their children having such a heavy academic and work load at such early ages. Natty DeLuna, a parent of a Cristo Rey student, stated in the Catholic Spirit News, “Although I have concerns about my daughter working at such an early age, I believe she will learn important job skills and discipline that will help her in the future. I don’t want her to be a person working at McDonald’s or cleaning offices. I hope and expect that she can get a career.”

The Cristo Rey Jesuit High School is a partner with Urban Ventures, which operates several social service delivery programs and the Collin Powell Youth Leadership Center; Cristo Rey High School will be a part of the Colin Powell Center.

According to Cristo Rey literature, most of the schools’ students qualify for the federal free or reduced lunch program, 92 percent are “racial minorities,” and the average family income of last year’s ninth-grade class was $33,051. Although 75 percent of a student’s tuition is paid by his or her worksite host, the balance of $200 monthly could remain a significant problem for very low-income families.

For more information, call Cristo Rey Admissions at 612-276-0140.
Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder


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