The high school was established four years ago with the Cristo Rey model: students attend class for 10 hours a day on Monday through Thursday, and then work all-day jobs on Fridays. The students’ paychecks not only help pay their tuition, but build their resumes as well.
“Every kid who is at Cristo Rey Jesuit has a job,” said the school’s president, Jesuit Father T.J. Martinez. “It really challenged the imagination of what we could do in the private-school world for children living in poverty.”
Graduating senior Andres Salgado says he never ventured far from home prior to high school. “Most of my life I’ve just been confined to a four-mile radius,” he said. Next year he will be attending Rice University and majoring in computer science on a full scholarship.
“I’m the first one in my family to go to college, to actually graduate from high school and then go to college—so that’s really big for me and my family,” Salgado said.
Cristo Rey Jesuit College Prep has seen tremendous growth in its first four years. Although it is one of the newest Cristo Rey schools in the country, it is second only to the original Cristo Rey Jesuit High in Chicago in student body size. The student body totals 406, with plans to grow to 550 by 2015.