March 29, 2007
Vol. 26 No. 13

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    Collegiate Scholars spend afternoon with Spike Lee

    Julia Morse
    News Office

    Spike Lee
    (Photo by Dan Dry)

    About 300 Chicago Public Schools students, including 75 enrolled in the University’s Collegiate Scholars Program, spent the afternoon with renowned director-producer Spike Lee Tuesday, March 27.

    “Our students are very bright and have proven they can achieve their goals through hard work and determination; we are thrilled to have Mr. Lee speak to our students,” said Kimberly Ransom, Director of the Collegiate Scholars Program, a free, University enrichment program established in 2003 for students in Chicago Public Schools. “Mr. Lee is an example of what happens when passion, education, determination, talent and fortitude meet.”

    Lee is best known for the controversial political and social issues featured in his films such as Do the Right Thing, Malcolm X, Clockers, Jungle Fever, The Original Kings of Comedy and Inside Man. He also teaches at New York University and Columbia University.

    Urban Prep Charter Academy for Young Men, located at 6130 S. Wolcott Ave., hosted Lee’s visit and a private reception for students that followed the lecture.

    Urban Prep, which opened its doors in September 2006, is the first and only charter school for boys in Chicago. The 160 African-American, ninth-grade boys currently enrolled make up the school’s population, said Urban Prep’s Ken Hutchinson, director of college and community partnerships for the school.

    Sponsored by the Electronic Arts Corporation and part of the company’s “Inspiration Tour,” Lee’s lecture will not only touch on careers in film and the arts, but also the manner in which Chicago Public Schools students can achieve college and career goals.

    For Ransom, the event comes at an ideal time, as the Collegiate Scholars Program has seen great success since its establishment four years ago. She noted that the program’s first graduating class last year went on to attend the country’s top schools, including Chicago and Harvard and Stanford universities.

    The program attracts about 600 applicants annually, with only 50 to 60 students selected for enrollment during the summer before 10th grade. During the school year, students participate in educational programs, classes, workshops, community service and tutoring seminars on weekends. Classes meet daily during the summer, and students also have the opportunity to attend cultural events during the week.

    “Spike Lee’s visit is ideal for our program, for Urban Prep and for the Chicago Public Schools in general,” Ransom said.