Welcome Back: CTK Ushers in First Senior Class and Makes its Debut on National Public Radio

Guest post by Christ the King Jesuit College Preparatory High School in Chicago.

Tune in to WBEZ-FM Sunday, Sept. 11 at noon and Monday, Sept. 12 at 1 p.m. to hear the CTK interview.

It was the official back-to-school day when students arrived welcoming our first senior class and the fastest-growing student body in the Cristo Rey Network. At the same time, we welcomed the crew from national public radio for a feature about CTK offering “a ray of hope, ” to our nation’s educational system. To say the excitement filled the halls is to understate. 

“Our job is to prepare you for college, and now you are practicing your college behaviors,” Latin teacher Charlie Barlow told the senior class. “Next year you will be college students, carrying on an indelible mark for all our students behind you. This is your practice year for college. You’re almost there. This is a big year.”

The seniors will test their readiness for college all year, but signs that we’re growing stronger and accomplishing our goals are fueled by affirmations from the public. Later this week, CTK will be featured in a national public radio documentary series about the plight of African-American teen boys and the challenges they face in our nation’s educational system.

CTK makes its debut on the Tavis Smiley documentary “Too Important to Fail,” which will premiere this Friday on NPR and PRI national and international airwaves, and on local WBEZ-FM Sunday, Sept. 11 at noon.


Left: Seniors Emmanuel and Stanley with Rob Birdsell, President of the Cristo Rey Network, in front of the school. All three were interviewed for the radio story. Photo by Bill Healy.

On the airwaves, CTK senior Emmanuel discusses the hope and inspiration he has found as a student at our school. He is joined by Rob Birdsell, President & CEO at Cristo Rey Network who speaks volumes about the hope CTK and the other 23 Cristo Rey schools bring to Emmanuel and 6,500 high school stations in its network. The radio program promotes a five-part PBS-TV series Smiley is doing on “The Education of African-American Boys and their Impact on America,” which will premiere on Tuesday, September 13 at 8 PM Eastern on PBS.

“This school has given me a chance to do something I never could have imagined,” Emmanuel said during the taping Tuesday at CTK. He plans to attend an engineering program in college next year and is busy preparing to apply.“At first it was tough walking home through the neighborhood in a shirt and tie and hearing all the stuff guys were saying. But now they leave me alone and I think many of them look at me and wish they could be in my shoes.“Emmanuel works five days a month (and kept his job five days a week last summer) at the law firm of Hoogendoorn & Talbott LLP, through CTK’s Corporate Work Study Program.

Tune in to WBEZ-FM Sunday, Sept. 11 at noon and Monday, Sept. 12 at 1 p.m. to hear the CTK interview.

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