West Side high school celebrates a milestone

The first class of graduates at Austin Polytechnical Academy earned their diplomas last month. Read the final installment of the Chicago News Cooperative’s year-long series that chronicled the journal of three seniors.

Renaissance 2010 high schools in Austin fight to provide better education for students

Sharon Morgan sits at her desk surrounded by piles of paperwork and a cup of Dunkin Donuts coffee. As she shuffles through the paperwork, she marks her calendar on the day where she plans to speak to her 7th and 8th grade students about completing applications for the best high schools in the city. With the application deadline for Chicago’s best college and career academies quickly approaching on Jan. 20, Morgan reassures herself that her students will be equipped with all the necessary tools to apply. Morgan is the director of Community Outreach and Graduate Support at Austin’s Catalyst School-Circle Rock, one of Austin’s newest K-8th college preparatory charter schools.

Austin needs more public high schools, some say

Local officials in Austin say if Chicago Public School leaders don’t create more high school seats in the West Side neighborhood, more youth will end up in the streets of Chicago’s toughest areas. But CPS officials say Austin residents will have to be content with their three Renaissance 2010 high schools. Austin High School, the only public school in the community, shut its doors four years ago. Its successor, Austin Community Academy, which was open for one year, was shut down by Mayor Richard M. Daley and converted into three small high schools with an attendance of 1,038 students, compared to the 6,000 students the academy held. Austin officials worry that rising crime rates will climb even higher if CPS officials don’t take action to bring back Austin High School.