Perfect school attendance could land Harper High students a job - FOX 32 News Chicago

Perfect school attendance could land Harper High students a job

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CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) -

Harper High School senior Ashley Ollie would like to be a chef or a nurse one day.

"I like helping people and you can help people with both cooking and you can help people with being a nurse," said Ollie in an interview with Fox 32's Tisha Lewis.

But until then, perfect attendance is at the top of her to-do list.

Why you ask?

It could be the difference between unemployment or a summer job here at A Knock at Midnight, helping younger students learn how to cook, dance, craft and more - even martial arts.

"I've been two days out of school the entire year because my parents were sick and I had to help them out," said Ollie.

But it's the next ten days that count – can't miss one day.

Inspired by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s sermon A Knock at Midnight, Reverend Johnny Banks Sr. formed a non-profit truancy intervention program in its namesake.

"The sermon really talks about the social order and it asks simply who has a friend that will go when it's dark, when it's midnight in people's lives and offer them three loaves, either the bread of hope, the bread of faith and the bread of love," said Banks.

Banks is offering $10 an hour – that's real dough to at least 15 Harper High School students who don't miss a day of school over the next two weeks.

"Over and around Harper High School there are probably 8-10 gang factions. Those young people have a lot to deal with to get to and fro," said Banks.

Banks says his staff donated their own money to provide the $10/hour pay.

"So we don't have to go anywhere for the money," said Banks.

"It's a good way to keep money in the pockets instead of selling drugs or going out to rob people, they have a job so they can get money the legal way," said Ollie.

A Knock at Midnight started 10 years ago in a living room. It's based in Englewood but since its humble beginnings, the program has expanded to help students at more than a dozen Chicago high schools attend school. This is the first time he's set a wager on perfect attendance and he says the response has been overwhelming.

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