Seven young men charged with non-violent crimes who were just a few credit hours away from receiving their high school diplomas will receive them today after finishing course work online at the Cook County Jail, Sheriff Thomas J. Dart announced.
A graduation ceremony is set for 3:00 p.m. today (March 18, 2011) in the Jury Assembly Room at the Cook County Criminal Courts Building, 2600 S. California Ave, 3rd floor.
The virtual high school program began in 2009, and has since graduated 12 students with diplomas from their local schools. Today’s ceremony will see seven new graduates receive diplomas from five different Chicago Public Schools high schools, and the Pneuma Institute, a private school which utilizes the same online courses.
The graduates, ages 18 to 22, are set to enroll in colleges and trade schools, after finishing course work they left behind when they were arrested. Those in the program are at various stages of their criminal case, though all have been arrested for non-violent crimes, and all have remained on electronic monitoring during their time in the virtual high school program.
The program is aimed at those non-violent detainees who may be just a few credit hours short of graduating. Approximately 15,000 people ages 17 to 21 leave the Cook County Jail every year and less than half have a high school diploma. In partnership with CPS, Cook County Judge John Kirby and others, an online program was developed to allow them to finish course work on computers at the jail campus, as they are overseen by state-certified teachers and sheriff’s staff. They are selected by judges to participate in the program, which includes class work, drug tests and behavioral and life skills training courses.
Those graduating today are:
Robert Coleman, 18 years old from the Englewood area, will receive his diploma from King College Prep and has plans to attend college majoring in Sociology. He aspires to become a counselor for at risk youth. Robert will present a speech, “What College Means to Me,” at the ceremony.
Gerald Jackson, 19 years old, resides on the west side of Chicago, will receive his diploma from Youth Connection Charter School and plans to attend a trade school.
Anthony Jones, 20 years old, from the west side of Chicago is receiving his diploma from Marshall High School. He plans to attend college majoring in business management and play basketball for the school he attends.
Kenneth McKinney, 22 years old is from the Roseland area, his diploma is from Harlan Community High School. He plans to acquire a trade at Dawson Technical Institute.
Jarod Tate, 20 years old, his diploma is from Pneuma Institute. He will attend the College of Dupage, majoring in Business Management.
Carlos Valencia, 18 years old, his diploma is from the Pneuma Institute and resides in the Back of the Yards neighborhood; he will pursue a career in culinary arts.
Ryan Williams, 20 years old, from the south side of Chicago, will receive his diploma from Carver Military Academy, is interested in pursuing a career in Computer Technology.