A few dozen students from one of Chicago's most violence-plagued high schools are getting the experience of a lifetime as they head for the nation's capital on a personal invitation from First Lady Michelle Obama.
On Tuesday, some 26 students from Harper High School in West Englewood boarded a charter bus headed for Washington, D.C. The teens will meet with the first lady on Wednesday in a private meeting closed to the press at 1 p.m. Chicago time, the Sun-Times reports.
Violence affecting the school received national attention in February when the Chicago Public Media-produced radio show "This American Life" on NPR aired a two-hour, two-part special dedicated to telling Harper High's stories.
More than two dozen current and former Harper students were shot — eight of them fatally — in the last year alone.
Several Harper High parents told Fox Chicago their kids haven't been beyond 95th Street their entire lives, while one student explained how some of the everyday sights in Englewood profoundly impact on the mindset of residents.
"I know for a fact it brings you down just knowing this is the area I live in," the student said. "Even in the same city, there are better neighborhoods and better schools. When you're seeing this every day it can make you do some of the worst things possible. If you ain't got that support anything can happen to you."
In April, the FLOTUS returned to Chicago to visit Harper High and relayed an emotional message about gun violence and life on the city's South Side.
The first lady opened the April meeting by talking about growing up in Chicago’s South Shore neighborhood.
“One of the reasons why I like to talk to kids, especially from my city, is to make sure you all know that there isn't much distance between me and you. There really is not,” she said according to the Tribune.
Fox reports the trip was funded by private donations secured by Mayor Rahm Emanuel.