GRADUATION SET FOR COOK COUNTY
JAIL’S VIRTUAL H.S
Wednesday, June 30, 2010— Seven men and one woman recently arrested for non-violent crimes are set to be introduced today as the first graduates from a virtual high school program developed at the Cook County Jail, Sheriff Thomas J. Dart announced.
The graduates, ranging in age from 17 to 21, include those who have bounced between foster homes, are young parents themselves and those who are mentoring younger students, including one who obtained a college scholarship to study in the fall.
Ceremonies are set for 1 p.m. Wednesday, June 30 at the 1st floor interview room in the lobby of the Criminal Courts building, 2650 S. California Ave.
Many of those in the program were only a few credit hours short of obtaining their high school diploma when they were arrested. Instead of limiting them to only being able to obtain a General Equivalency Diploma, Dart partnered with Cook County Judge John Kirby, Chicago Public Schools officials and others to develop an online program which will allow each participant to instead obtain a diploma from the last high school they were enrolled in.
The online program, operated by Aventa Learning, began in February 2009 in classrooms at the sheriff’s 31st Street offices. It is administered by state-certified teachers and sheriff’s staff and follows a state-approved curriculum. There are now 50 students enrolled, all at various stages of their criminal proceedings, with four more set to graduate in August.
About 15,000 people ages 17 to 21 leave the Cook County Jail every year and less than half have a high school diploma. Participants in the new program are selected by judges for various alternative sentencing programs. In addition to their class work, they are required to check in with sheriff’s staff once a day, while also agreeing to drug tests and to partake in behavioral and life skills training courses.
Those going through graduation ceremonies on Wednesday are:
- Tremaine Hiler, 19, arrested in August for drug-related charges. He will receive a diploma from Foreman High School. He has served as a mentor to his younger brother, encouraging him not to follow the same lifestyle and his brother is set to attend Purdue University in the fall on a scholarship.
- Alex Redmond, 18, arrested in April 2008 for drug possession. He will receive a diploma from Lane Tech High School. After the birth of his son, he said he gained a sense of responsibility for himself and his young family and with his high school diploma, wants to get a better job to support them. He earned a years’ worth of credits through this program.
- Ira Hines, 21, arrested in August for gambling-related charges. He will receive a diploma from Youth Connection Charter School. His father is in prison, while his mother and foster mother have both died, as has his sister. Left without a family to grow up in and lean on for support, he has worked to overcome numerous obstacles while obtaining his diploma.
- David Arrington, 20, arrested in January for drug possession. He will receive a diploma from Fenger Academy High School. He completed more than a year’s worth of credits to earn his degree.
- Jeremy Harris, 17, arrested in February for drug possession. He has been working while attending classes and will receive a diploma from John Hope College Preparatory High School.
- Julisa Rockiett, 18, arrested in October for check scheme charges. She will receive a diploma from Julian High School. She is enrolled in a sheriff’s program specifically developed for women and actively participated in all components of that program. Using those skills, she mentored and tutored classmates as they struggled with work. She plans to continue her education and become an attorney.
- Davares Kinsey, 18, arrested in August for drug possession. He will receive a diploma from Manley Career Academy High School. The oldest of four children raised by a single mother, he wants to serve as a role model for his siblings.
- Ira Milton, 20, arrested in January for criminal trespassing. He will receive a diploma from Steinmetz Academic Centre. He is one of 15 children in his family and has lived in 12 foster homes during his childhood. He hopes to study culinary arts and become a chef.