Illinois high school entire graduating class accepted to college with $50M in scholarships

Dollita Okine May 30, 2024
The Illinois-based school said at its yearly "All In" event that it anticipates receiving more than $60 million in scholarship offers for the class of 2024. Photo Credit: Black News

Southland College Prep Charter High School in Richton Park is celebrating its 2024 graduating seniors as the entire class has been accepted to college. The 2024 class of the South Suburban Chicago school, which serves a mostly African American student body, has received over $50 million in merit- and need-based scholarship offers.

This is the eleventh consecutive year that all members of the school’s senior class have been accepted to college. The Illinois-based school said at its yearly “All In” event in April that it anticipates receiving more than $60 million in scholarship offers for the class of 2024.

The seniors were accepted into some of the nation’s most esteemed liberal arts colleges and universities, including Barnard College, Wellesley College, Columbia University, Vanderbilt, Howard University, the University of Chicago, the University of Michigan, the University of Chicago, Northwestern, the University of California-Berkeley, Stanford, and Northwestern.

Knyiema Martin, the school’s 18-year-old class valedictorian, was offered more than $5 million in merit and need-based scholarships and was accepted to 28 universities, according to a statement by the school.

The teenager, who plans to focus on psychology at the University of California-Berkeley, received a 4.89 GPA on a 4.0 scale and was designated a Gates Millennium Scholar, becoming only the third student in the school’s history to receive the renowned scholarship.

When Southland was created in 2010, critics told its founder, Dr. Blondean Y. Davis, who is also the superintendent of Matteson School District 162, that “students from our area would not be able to access the Ivy League or top schools in the country.”

Nevertheless, the school said that students in the class of 2024—the school’s eleventh graduating class since its founding in 2010—made outstanding achievements. This was in spite of the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) delays and difficulties navigating their high school years during a pandemic.

In addition, every year since its first graduating class in 2014, Southland, whose enrollment is not selective but determined by an annual lottery, has had a 100% college acceptance rate.

“This is what happens when what seemed impossible becomes a reality and a vision is realized. This is what happens when a community’s dreams for their children are achieved,” Davis remarked. 

Last Edited by:Mildred Europa Taylor Updated: May 30, 2024


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