Program allows teens to graduate from high school and get associate's degree

- Here are a couple of statistics to think about. Among Philadelphia Public school students roughly 58 percent complete high school and enroll in college.  Of those only 1 out of 5 actually get a degree.

The statistics aren't great regarding Philadelphia schools but today they some of those students were celebrating some different statistics and trying to start some different trends.

Mackenzie Schoen and Savannah Zazulak  were among several students who today celebrated a program that's changing lives and families. The program is a partnership between a local charter school and community college of Philadelphia.  One of the students Carson Lowe explained how it works.

"During the school year, we take half of our courses at MAST and the other half at CCP.  Once we graduate from MAST we will have our high school diploma and have enough credits to get an associates degree in business."

On the surface it was a standard press conference applauding the program.  However, when we spoke to the students like Sabrina Fiocca you could see how in some cases being the first in their family ready to get their degree was so much bigger.

"My family always encouraged me. They always told me it would be cool to be the first Fiocca to graduate because no one in my family has."

And although it's more than they probably grasped, their success is part of the process of showing other students that they can be better than many of the negative stereotypes about them.  Savannah had to admit that she was proud of the accomplishments that these young students have already achieved.

"We were only 14-15 when we started and passed the entry exam with a 9th grade education, some take all twelve years of education to pass that test"

This group is the first but they all made it clear that because of the support of the program and their families they won't be the last.  They hoped that sharing their story would inspire others

"People see what we're doing and they wanna do the exact same thing so that's pretty cool.  I have two little sisters and I have little cousins. I feel like they'll look up to me and wanna follow in my footsteps, hopefully so that's something to look forward to."

As these teens headed off to school others are watching and hoping that this is just another step in the development of so many students in our area who need it,  for goodness sake.


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