Christ the King High School in Austin graduated its first senior class on June 9. The school broke ground for its new building in 2008 at Jackson and Leamington on property that used to be home to Resurrection Parish. The high school, located at 5088 W. Jackson, opened its doors in 2009.
Saturday’s commencement ceremony included a visit by Mayor Rahm Emanuel. When it opened, Christ the King became the first Catholic school built on the West Side in more than 80 years. Starting with a freshman class of roughly 120 students, the school’s graduating class includes high-academic achievers and community-minded activists.
All 50 graduates, according to the school, have been accepted to colleges.
Caps and gowns were the style of the day last Saturday, but normal dress for students is business attire. The students work at businesses around the city as part of the school’s work-study program, which helps pay much of their tuition.
In a Chicago Sun-Times column on Monday, Emanuel touted the Austin school and its success.
“I first visited Christ the King last year on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, before I was elected mayor. …When you walk outside that school building in Austin, you see the boards on the houses, and crime on the streets and liquor stores where there should be grocery stores,” the mayor wrote.
“When you walk inside that building, you see college banners on the wall, students on the honor roll and teachers on a mission. I saw that the potential inside that building was far more powerful than any of the problems outside.
“At the end of my visit, I told the school’s president, Father [Christopher] Devron, that if he was able to graduate every one of his seniors, then, win or lose in the mayoral campaign, I wanted to come speak at the graduation. This weekend I got my wish. … Their accomplishment this weekend stands as a rebuke to anyone who adopts a cynical attitude about what the students of Chicago, even in the roughest neighborhoods, can accomplish.”