While most schools close their doors in honor of Martin Luther King Jr. Day, one school on Chicago's West Side will be in session.
Providence St. Mel High School has kept its doors open since January 17--Dr. King's birthday--became recognized as a federal holiday. Paul J. Adams III, the school's founder and president, met Dr. King several times while growing up in Montgomery, Ala. He spoke with Chicago Tribune columnist Dawn Turner Trice about his decision to keep the school open:
"Dr. King was an educator," said Adams, who will address an assembly of parents, faculty and students on Monday. "I find it the most ridiculous thing in the world that schools are closed to commemorate his birthday. To me, it's disrespectful, especially in the black community, when our children are behind."
Adams, who will share personal stories about Dr. King at Monday's assembly, has made Providence St. Mel incredibly successful. For 30 years, 100 percent of his students graduated and went on to colleges--including Ivy League schools.
"We were raised to go to college and do something with our lives, even though we were living under those awful conditions," Adams told Trice, adding that those uninterested in college should not bother attending his school.