Study finds success beyond selective CPS schools; students agree

Nov 20, 2016 by

Victoria Sotirova was devastated when she missed the cutoff score to get in to Lane Tech High School by a few lousy points.

The teenager, who’d led her class at Budlong Elementary School, had her heart set on the selective North Side high school. But while awaiting a possible principal discretion slot, she resigned herself to going to her neighborhood school, Amundsen High School, 5110 N. Damen, and entered an International Baccalaureate program there that demands critical thinking and tons of reading.

A few months later, Lane Tech called with an opening. But Victoria turned them down, convinced she’d landed in a better place.

“The teachers were so guiding, the principal was so involved, and the atmosphere was not what I expected it to be,” she says of Amundsen, which has alumni currently attending Harvard, Tufts and Northwestern on full rides. “What had changed my mind, basically, was realizing that I likely would not stick out at a large school like Lane Tech, and Amundsen would provide me with the opportunity to showcase who I am. And that would help me be successful.”

A senior now, the 17-year-old has a 4.0 GPA and is a finalist for a full-tuition scholarship to Pomona College, a highly selective liberal arts school in California. She’s the student rep on the Local School Council and traveled to Japan last summer on an exchange program.

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