Chicago school has recipe for a 2nd chance

In a brightly lit kitchen, students in white chef hats and aprons are glazing pork, tasting cheddar cheese grits and checking on a Caribbean black bean side dish in the oven.
Once dropouts, discipline problems and failures at high school, they now talk about owning restaurants, writing cookbooks and supporting their families.
Executive directors Myra J. Sampson and Gladys Simpson take that mission to heart. They are veterans in the world of offering alternative schooling for students at risk of dropping out.

They applied to the Chicago Public Schools and got a five-year contract to run the culinary arts high school, housed in a nondescript brick building that happens to have a gleaming, well-stocked kitchen. There are two additional rooms for classes. Students wear navy polo shirts as part of their uniforms.
A bulletin board in the hallway showcases pictures of all the student chefs, below the words "History in the Making."
As a "contract school," the culinary arts high school has to meet performance measures in a number of areas, such as graduation and attendance rates and test performance. Last week, the juniors were taking Illinois' Prairie State Achievement Examination just like other 11th graders across the state. The exam measures whether students meet state standards in reading, math and other subjects.



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