Private West Side School Is Free, Offers Lifetime Lessons

(CBS) — A private middle school on Chicago’s West Side prepares students for a lifetime of success.

CBS 2’s Dana Kozlov reports.

At the Chicago Jesuit Academy in the Austin neighborhood, students are called mister.

The eighth-graders are assigned specific roles.

“You’re supposed to be a leader at the school and take care of the little ones,” eighth-grader James McGee says.

The students have two things in common: They live on the West Side and attend for free.

“It’s not about the money. The money has been taken out of the equation,” says parent Armario Hill.

Matthew Lynch helped start CJA 13 years ago as a way to prepare students for college-prep high schools and later success in life.

Students must have passed their last grade and qualified for free or reduced lunch to attend the grades 3-8 academy.

They may leave after eighth grade, but the staff stays with them for years to come.

Ninety percent of CJA’s first class are either college graduates, in college, in the military or working full-time.

The one thing you’ll hear over and over again from students and staff is how nurturing the environment is.

“I know for a fact a lot of these kids don’t get to hear ‘I love you’ when they get home. And to hear that right when they walk in the building at 7:30, it’s great,” alum Julian Wicks says.

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