RICHTON PARK, Ill. -- A suburban Illinois high school is taking great pride in its senior class, which has a 100 percent acceptance rate to college and has been offered millions of dollars in scholarships.
The 116 graduates of Southland College Prep in Richton Park have been awarded more than $54 million in scholarships to attend colleges across the map - an additional triumph for this charter school whose rigor is based on a European teaching model comprised of nine hour schooldays, extracurriculars across disciplines and a ban on cell phones.
"We have an aggressive scholarship program. The middle class cannot carry the burden of all these loans," Southland principal Dr. Blondean Davis said.
Southland students enjoy tuition assistance with anywhere from 60 to 100 percent of their costs so long as students commit to the standards necessary to make it in the professional world.
"The issue is not getting them in. The issue is the persistence that one of these very soon they're going to walk across that stage and get their first degree - and I say 'first' because I would love for them to get a master's degree, a doctorate," Davis said.
The promise of college shines in these seniors' eyes. Alexis Eiland is headed to Nashville for the next four years.
"The HBCU environment is just so amazing. It's so rich in history, learning more about myself and my roots and, you know, they gave me an enormous amount of money, which is great!" she said.
Darahn Magnus wants to get into business at the University of Illinois.
"Southland really prepared me well; sophomore year and junior year they were really preparing us for the ACT and SAT. We had boot camps and trainings," he said.
Jaylen Hankins is seeking a career in medicine via Washington University in St. Louis.
"The location is nice because it's not far but it's not close, either, so my parents can't just come over and check up on me all the time," he said.