Little Black Pearl expanding scope of youth served

Staff Writer

Little Black Pearl was recently approved by Chicago Public Schools (CPS) to offer alternative education to post secondary students through its new alternative school program.

In the 2013-2014 school year Options Laboratory Alternative High School, the school that is currently in place at Little Black Pearl, 1060 E. 47th St., in partnership with Youth Connections Charter School, will change its name to Little Black Pearl Art and Design Academy.

The Options Laboratory High School, which opened at Little Black Pearl in 2011, is a branch of Youth Connections Charter School that serves at-risk students and high school dropouts between the ages of 16 and 21.

Monica Haslip, founder of the Little Black Pearl, said the CPS partnership allows the art center to work with post secondary students as young as 14.

“We wanted to work with the younger population who were off track and bring them back on track before they get to high school,” Haslip said. “We offer a program for those with academic challenges who need smaller class rooms and are interested in the arts.”

Haslip said the Little Black Pearl Art and Design Academy will offer a technology, arts and business curriculum model similar to the one being used at Options Laboratory Alternative High School.

She said there would be no staff layoffs but there may be additional educators hired to handle the increased student population. She said the staff is currently developing a curriculum to accommodate the younger students.