PHILADELPHIA - May 18, 2012 (WPVI)- Simon Gratz High School in Philadelphia has made a remarkable turnaround.
For years, it was one of the lowest performing high schools in the city, but now students are excelling.
More than 100 seniors celebrated their success Friday by officially announcing where they are going to college.
"I want to be an obstetrician," said senior Briarra Kelly. "I love babies."
One step closer to reaching their dreams, students were met by enthusiastic support from family and friends in the audience.
"Today is meant to show your family you've been working hard, and that you're ready for college and just move forward," Briarra said.
"Being the first generation in my family, it's important to show my siblings I can make it out of this neighborhood," said senior Terrell Price.
There was a great sense of hope as more than 100 students signed a letter of intent to go onto higher education. It is a gesture that's common among high school athletes committing to a college sports program, but the focus was purely on academic achievement Friday.
"Honestly, a lot of people didn't think we could do it, but we're here today, accepted to colleges," said Student Representative Patrick Hill.
Simon Gratz High School was one of the lowest performing high schools in the city. This year the school was taken over by Mastery Charter in an attempt to improve academics.
Mission accomplished, according to the Charter network which says 64% of the class of 2-12 has already been admitted to college or a postsecondary program. That is three times more students than last year.
"Now they push us to higher levels and expect more from us," said Patrick.
The principal at Gratz says that while they have seen strong progress this year, they have a lot more work to do.
Next year, they are hoping 98% of their students will go to college.
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