About 300 Chicago Public School students, including 75 enrolled in the University of Chicago’s Collegiate Scholars Program, will be spending the afternoon with renowned director-producer Spike Lee on Tuesday, March 27 from 2 to 4 p.m.
“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 enrichment program established in 2003 for Chicago Public School students at the University of Chicago. “Mr. Lee is an example of what happens when passion, education, determination, talent and fortitude meet. He will be an inspiration to our students.”
Lee, who is best known for the controversial political and social issues featured in his films, directed such films as Malcolm X, Clockers, Jungle Fever, The Original Kings of Comedy and Inside Man. Lee also teaches at New York University and Columbia University.
Urban Prep Charter Academy for Young Men, located at 6130 S. Wolcott Ave. will host Lee’s visit. A private reception for students will follow his 2 p.m. lecture.
Urban Prep, which opened its doors in September, is the first and only charter school for boys in Chicago. The 160 African-American, ninth-grade boys enrolled at Urban Prep currently make up the school’s population, said Ken Hutchinson, Director of College & Community Partnerships at Urban Prep.
“We are building a high school from the ground up, class by class,” Hutchinson said. “Our mission is to provide a high-quality college preparatory education for our students.”
Hutchinson noted that Lee is an ideal guest speaker for Urban Prep, adding, “He embodies everything we hope for our students.”
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.
In a speech on last year’s “Inspiration Tour,” Lee said, “Our goal is not just that you would seek to become a game designer or graphics creator, but rather that you explore and learn at an early stage that about which you are passionate.”
For Ransom, the event comes at an ideal time, as the Collegiate Scholars Program has seen great success since its establishment four years ago.
“Our students are very bright and have proven they can achieve goals,” Ransom said, noting that the program’s first graduating class last year went on to attend the country’s top schools, including Harvard University, Stanford University and the University of Chicago.
The program attracts about 600 applicants annually, with only 50 or 60 students selected for enrollment in the summer before 10th grade. Classes meet daily in the summer, while during the school year, students participate in educational programs, classes, college preparatory workshops, community service events and tutoring seminars on weekends and can 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.