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ERIC Number: EJ853199
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2007
Pages: 8
Abstractor: ERIC
ISSN: ISSN-1478-8497
A Real Alternative: Tragedy and Hope in an Urban Immigrant Community
Michie, Gregory
International Journal on School Disaffection, v4 n2 p6-13 2007
Father Bruce Wellems didn't know the dropout statistics when he came to Back of the Yards in 1990 to serve as a parish priest. Born and raised in New Mexico, Wellems initially had only vague notions of what an inner-city ministry might look like and little commitment to the neighborhood's struggling youth. But after some prodding from a local park district supervisor, he began trying to build relationships with teens in the community who were gang members, many of whom were spending their days on the streets instead of in school. He quickly discovered that most of them desired one of two things: (1) a decent job; or (2) the chance to continue their education. For several years, Wellems tossed around the idea of starting a community-based high school that would serve the kids he'd gotten to know on the streets. But with so many other pressing needs in the parish, the high school stayed on Wellems' back burner until February 1998, when a tragic incident of youth violence moved him to act. With the city's gaze focused on Back of the Yards in the wake of two murders, Wellems decided to try to use the attention to make something good from the tragedy. This article describes the launching of the Irene Dugan Alternative High School and how it has been life-changing--a refuge, a second chance, a step down a different, more hopeful path--to troubled kids.
National Dropout Prevention Center/Network. Clemson University, 209 Martin Street, Clemson, SC 29631. Tel: 864-656-2599; Fax: 864-656-0136; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: High Schools
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A