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Many Students Who Struggled Find Transformation At Association House High School

CHICAGO (CBS) -- High school can be a tough ride for some students.

One young man with whom we spoke said it was boring and he felt like he was surrounded by robots. But his new school takes a different path to graduation.

CBS 2's Lauren Victory took us inside the Association House High School, an alternative charter in Humboldt Park.

Association House High School at 1116 N. Kedzie Ave. looks and sounds like a regular Chicago Public High School – from the stampede to class to the buzzing teacher. Yes, there are microscopes, textbooks, and the constant sharpening of minds – but this charter school's classrooms aren't run-of-the-mill.

"You get that one-on-one. They make sure you actually learn," said student Carlos Vega.

A small class size and personable teachers keep him engaged. He says he's made a total transformation from his previous school.

"I was like skipping and you know – not invested in it. You know, getting in trouble," said Vega.

A mentor referred him to Association House of Chicago about three years ago.

Many of Vega's classmates have similar stories. Something prevents them from attending a traditional school.

Baby Jordany was Jessica Froylan's challenge.

"I always wanted to finish high school. With my other schools, it was hard, because I was pregnant. Then I had my kid and had nobody to watch and I'm like, I'm not going to come to school," said Froylan.

Now, Froylan and her sister are able to work on their diplomas while their kids play. The Family Literacy Program that makes daycare possible is more than a babysitting service. The moms are encouraged to visit during the school day to pick up skills to teach their babies at home.

"It's one of the things I'm most proud of as principal," said David Pieper, who has been with the school for more than 10 years.

The principal said he has always researching ways to increase attendance which is how laundry access became another perk for students.

"A lot of our students lack that support or that access to fundamental necessities" Pieper said. "To not miss school for something as simple as laundry; if we can remove that barrier, it's something we attempt to do."

The newest, non-traditional approach at the school is restorative justice training for all staff, which is made up of both teachers and designated student mentors.

The alternative but personalized learning is making a difference. Just ask Vega.

"It makes school actually kind of fun," he said.

The 18-year-old is on track to graduate this year.

Association House High School gets the same sort of funding that a typical school gets. But its extra resources like daycare and laundry access are paid for through grants and donations.


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