By Patrice Pirpiris, Taft
and Sruthi Raman, Neuqua Valley

For Ginny Randall, a junior at Neuqua Valley, non-traditional high schools can offer experiences not available in any other schools.

“Public high schools at most offer an extracurricular choir ensemble or a dance team, but nothing close to the standards held by specialized high schools,” Randall said. She adds that access to classes such as film studies or advanced science and math provide teens with more opportunities outside the classroom.

The Mash looked at some specialized high schools in the Chicago area.

Chicago Bulls College Prep
2040 W. Adams St., Chicago

Founded in August 2009 as part of the Noble Street Charter School network, students at the Chicago Bulls College Prep School complete an equivalent of six years of English, math and science. Most students also take between two and four AP classes throughout their four years. Students must pass eighth grade and be a resident in the city of Chicago to be accepted.

Chicago High School for the Arts (ChiArts)
320 S. Calumet Ave., Chicago

Opening its doors in fall 2009, this high school is dedicated to improving students’ skills in four areas: dance, music, theater and visual arts.

Auditions are required to be accepted. Students participate in a rigorous program that includes five hours of academics, three hours of arts education in their major area and one to four hours of rehearsal each day.

“To go here, you have to be really serious about your art,” says junior Elizabeth Burmeister. “Dedication is key when students have to stay from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.”

Chicago Academy for the Arts (CAA)
1010 W. Chicago Ave., Chicago

CAA, which was founded in 1981, is a private performing and creative arts high school. In addition to teaching dance, visual arts and theater, the school also offers film and writing curriculum. Auditions are required to be accepted. Many CAA students have worked with renowned theater and dance groups, including the Joffrey Ballet and Goodman Theatre. Famous alumni include actress Elisabeth Withers-Mendes and artistic director Jonathan Alsberry.

Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy (IMSA)
1500 Sullivan Road, Aurora

IMSA focuses on the fields of science, technology, engineering and math. As a three-year high school, students begin at IMSA as sophomores. Enrollment is generally offered to freshmen, but eighth-graders who have had the equivalent of one year of algebra and a ninth-grade science credit may be invited to enroll as sophomores. IMSA offers a tuition-free resident program.

American School of Correspondence
2200 E. 170th St., Lansing

Teens who travel a lot, are already employed or have extremely busy schedules might find this school to be designed just for them. American School is a home-study institution that offers three different programs to help students get a high school diploma at their own pace. Programs include general high school, college preparatory and independent study. Eighteen credits are required to graduate, but American School offers a more flexible schedule.

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About The Mash

The Mash is the Chicago Tribune's newspaper and website written for teens, by teens. The paper is distributed for free every other Thursday at Chicago-area high schools and is written largely by high school students.

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