Education: Worth Fighting For

A unique Chicago school that refuses to die

On Chicago's poor West Side stands a building with no graffiti marring its walls, no windows boarded up. Inside, expensive audiovisual equipment sits in unlocked offices, while near by, students pursue a discussion of a Chekhov story and Richard Wright's Native Son. It is Providence-St. Mel High School, the West Side's remaining Roman Catholic secondary school and a fortress of civility —and hope—for black teenagers.

The man who made it so is soft-spoken Paul Adams, 37, a black Protestant who took a pay cut from...

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