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For a remarkable fourth consecutive year, all 167 seniors at Urban Prep Academies schools have been accepted at four-year colleges or universities this fall.
Students of the two Chicago public charter high schools -- located in the city's Englewood and University Village neighborhoods -- gathered Thursday morning to celebrate the achievement of their schools, which some have dubbed "Hogwarts in the Hood" for their impressive, seemingly magical rates of success, CBS Chicago reports.
Still, Urban Prep's founder and CEO Tim King says, "the only magic going on at Urban Prep is the magic that these guys put in with their hard work and dedication.”
Some of the students at Urban Prep have overcome harrowing odds along their paths to college. Over the past several months, graduating senior Pravione Winding, 17, endured both the loss of his grandmother to cancer and his father to a fatal shooting during a dice game on the city's South Side in January, the Chicago Tribune reports.
After enduring those tragedies, Winding has been accepted at several schools and will likely attend Howard University in Washington, he told the Tribune.
Mayor Rahm Emanuel was on hand at the Thursday celebration and said the network's students were setting a fine example others should follow, the Chicago Defender reports.
“I want everyone in this city, I want everyone in this country to look up here," Emanuel said.
The all-male preparatory charter school network was founded in 2006. At that time, only four percent of its freshman class at its flagship Englewood campus was reading at grade level at the start of the school year. By 2010, all 107 of its graduating seniors were headed for college or university programs.
According to Fox Chicago, 85 percent of the students at Urban Prep's campuses come from low-income families and many of the students start at least two grade levels behind where they should be. All of this year's graduates are African American males, as are the majority of the network's students.
The network's third campus opened in the city's Bronzeville neighborhood in the fall of 2010 and will mark its first graduating class next year.
At the Thursday celebration, Citi Foundation presented a $150,000 donation to the network in support of its alumni program which helps the schools' graduates in their secondary education pursuits, NBC Chicago reports.