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Tuesday, September 14, 2010— Four  young men charged with non-violent crimes who were just a few credit hours away from receiving their high school diplomas will receive them today after finishing course work online at the Cook County Jail Sheriff Thomas J. Dart announced.

A graduation ceremony is set for 1:30 p.m. today in the gymnasium at the Cook County Sheriff’s Boot Camp, 2801 S. Rockwell St.

The virtual high school program began in 2009 and in June, saw its first eight graduates awarded diplomas from eight different high schools. Today’s ceremony will see four new graduates receive diplomas from four Chicago Public Schools, along with two other young men who were unable to attend the June ceremony.

The graduates, ages 19 to 22, are set to enroll in colleges and trade schools, after finishing course work they left behind when they were arrested. Those in the program are at various stages of their criminal case, though all have been arrested for non-violent crimes and nearly all were charged with drug possession.

The program is aimed at those non-violent detainees who may be just a few credit hours short of graduating. About 15,000 people ages 17 to 21 leave the Cook County Jail every year and less than half have a high school diploma. In partnership with CPS, Cook County Judge John Kirby and others, an online program was developed to allow them to finish course work on computers at the jail campus, as they are overseen by state-certified teachers and sheriff’s staff. They are selected by judges to participate in the program, which includes class work, drug tests and behavioral and life skills training courses.

Those graduating today are:

Allante Wallace, 21, of the South Shore neighborhood of Chicago. He will receive his diploma from Simeon Career Academy. He is enrolled at Malcolm X College and will present “What College Means To Me” as part of the graduation ceremonies.

Jeramy Harris, 22, of the Englewood neighborhood of Chicago. He will receive his diploma from Tilden High School. He has a young family and is now working to support them, with plans to attend college.

David Arrington, 20, of the Roseland neighborhood of Chicago. He will receive his diploma from Fenger High School. He is enrolled at Kennedy-King College and wants to be a mortician.

Johnathan Johnson, 19, of Broadview. He will receive his diploma from Robeson High School. He is enrolled at Malcolm X College and wants to become a lawyer.

Willie Hawkins, 19, of the West Side of Chicago. He will receive his diploma from Austin Career Center. He plans to work and attend college and hopes to major in psychology.

Albert Anderson, 19, of the Austin neighborhood of Chicago. He will receive his diploma from Al Raby School for Community and Environment.  He is working and enrolled in trade school, with plans to become an electronic systems technician.

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