By DASCHELL M. PHILLIPS
Little Black Pearl shed its alternative high school partnership with Youth Connections Charter School and opened a public high school through Chicago Public Schools (CPS). The school is hosting an open house Wednesday.
Little Black Pearl, an art and design center for youth, 1060 E. 47th St., launched The Little Black Pearl Art and Design Academy as a CPS contract school in August 2013. About two years prior to its opening, the Little Black Pearl housed the Options Laboratory School, a branch of Youth Connections Charter School (YCCS). YCCS serves at-risk students and high school dropouts between the ages of 16 to 21 who have been underserved and /or disconnected from traditional education. It has about 20 campuses across the city.
“We wanted to be able to serve a younger population,” said Monica Haslip, founder of the Little Black Pearl. “The students now have a longer opportunity to build up their interests in the arts.”
The high school now serves about 200 students between the ages of 14 and 18 and offers an arts integrated curriculum that includes music, visual arts and technology.
Haslip said the school also focuses on providing in-school and after-school tutoring to freshmen who need extra academic support.
“There are a large number of 8th graders who enter high school with learning challenges. We work to get them back on track in reading and math,” Haslip said, adding that the school is also required to prepare its students for standardized testing.
Haslip said the school makes sure that the students know all their options before they make a choice about which art discipline they will choose. In their freshman year, the students rotate through all the arts such as music production, choir, computer graphics and glass blowing. Then, in their sophomore year, the students can choose a major and concentrate on what most interests them.
While the school is arts-focused, Haslip said the main goal is to create eager learners.
“We use the arts to keep them motivated,” Haslip said. “Those interested in arts as a career we help them build a portfolio and get them on the right path.”
The Little Black Pearl Art and Design Academy will host an open house Wednesday, Feb. 26 and another one on Wednesday, March 5 from 1:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.