The following unedited letter comes from the Rev. Christopher J. Devron, president of Christ the King Jesuit College Preparatory High School, in response to last week’s AustinTalks’ article “Christ the King students stage sit-in.” The story also ran in last week’s edition of the Austin Weekly News.
AustinTalks sought comment for the Jan. 28 article before publication and received no response until now. AustinTalks is happy to share the letter it received Monday in its entirety, as requested by the president.
Letter to the Austin Weekly
On Monday, January 28, a few students at Christ the King Jesuit College Prep organized a sit-in that received coverage in last week’s issue of the Austin Weekly. We, members of Christ the King’s student council, school administration, the parent organization, and past and present board members, write in response to this article.
First, we believe that last Monday’s actions distracted our school community from our mission of college prep education and we are working through more constructive methods to promote positive change. In fact, our school’s very existence witnesses to the power of ideals and constructive activity to promote change. As a community we continue to embrace these, but we believe they are never at odds with going to class to improve one’s educational opportunities.
Second, we write to correct the record, since the article included several inaccurate statements, including that there is a lack of African American leadership at the school. In fact, Christ the King’s administrative team— consisting of our principal, associate principal, assistant principal and dean of students—is entirely African American. In addition, our directors of college counseling and student campus ministry are African American, as are key school staff members throughout our business office, admissions and facilities departments and corporate work-study program. We are also blessed to have a few Latino staff members—significant, because our student population is both Latino and African American.
Our board of directors has included several African Americans who are outstanding educators, journalists, civic leaders, elected officials, attorneys and clergy from both West Side neighborhoods and throughout the city. In addition, we have an active parent organization that is invested in helping our school community improve and reach its goal of ensuring that every student who begins at Christ the King as a freshman will graduate from college eight years later.
The article also cited unfair comments about our teachers, and a concern about teacher turnover. We are proud of our teachers’ commitment and dedication to help every one of our students achieve, succeed and prepare for college. As we grow, we intend to recruit more teachers who represent the backgrounds of our students. Teacher turnover is typical in new schools which require teachers to commit enormous effort and sacrifice until the school establishes a culture of excellence and discipline. Now, in our fifth year, our school has achieved greater maturity, and we expect to improve teacher retention.
Christ the King is a shining beacon of academic excellence and leadership development on the West Side, and we are proud of our students and classmates who have chosen such a rigorous and challenging high school experience. With our $30 million investment on the corner of Jackson Blvd. and Leamington St., we have helped to revitalize the abandoned property at the old Resurrection parish, and our campus has become a community center for many neighborhood organizations and activities. Through our innovative Corporate Work Study Program, every one of our students shares a full-time job at leading law firms, banks, hospitals and other businesses throughout the Chicago area in which they earn a majority of their high school tuition. Last year, 100% of our first graduating class was accepted to colleges and universities. This year, our seniors have already been accepted at colleges and universities such as Xavier University (New Orleans), Middlebury College in Vermont, Loyola University Chicago, and Marquette University.
While college graduation is crucial to our success, it is not the ultimate end of a Christ the King education. In keeping with our Jesuit tradition, our most important goal is to develop leaders who serve and become “men and women for others,” dedicating their lives to God’s greater glory.
We invite all interested eighth grade students and parents who would like to learn more about Christ the King’s faith-based, affordable, safe and college prep education to contact our director of admissions, Troy McGee, at firstname.lastname@example.org
Rev. Christopher J. Devron, SJ
President, Christ the King Jesuit College Preparatory School
Mrs. Temple Payne
Principal, Christ the King Jesuit College Preparatory School
Mrs. Kimya Buckner
President, Christ the King Parent Organization
Mr. Sharieff Robinson, CTK Class of 2013 President, Christ the King Student Council
Reverend Marshall Hatch
CTK Board Member / Pastor, New Mount Pilgrim Missionary Baptist Church
State Rep. La Shawn K. Ford
Former CTK Board Member / Community Leader