By Suzanne Le Mignot


(CBS) — They’ve done it, again.

All 260 seniors at Chicago’s three Urban Prep Academy campuses are going to college. While there was much celebration, this year’s graduation ceremony also took on a somber tone as graduates remembered one of their own.

CBS 2’s Suzanne Le Mignot reports.

One by one, Urban Prep Academy graduates, say the name and don the hat of the university they’ll be attending.

Kyle Johnson is going to Columbia College. The Gates Millennium Scholarship winner will have college and graduate school paid in full.

“It’s an amazing achievement for me. I always knew, since freshman year, I was doing something big,” Johnson says.

Joseph Olalusi is also a Gates Millennium Scholarship winner.  Olalusi, with a 4.18 GPA, is heading to Cornell, something he thought would not be possible after many family hardships.

“I grabbed a job at McDonald’s and there was a point where I was going to work,” he says. “Everything is pretty bright for me right now.”

Missing from the 260 Urban Prep Academy graduates is Deonte Hoard.

Deonte Hoard (Credit: Facebook)

Deonte Hoard (Credit: Facebook)

Hoard’s mother was presented with a gold and red tie, the one her son would have worn at graduation, symbolizing his acceptance to college.  Hoard was shot and killed while walking home in March.

“I want them to pick up the ball where he dropped it. I want them to continue on. He had dreams,” Ebonie Martin says.

Olalusi says Hoard’s passing strengthens his goal of studying applied economics and management. He plans to start a non-profit aimed at helping young black men in Chicago’s South Side communities.

Urban Prep Founder and CEO Tim King says the students have turned Hoard’s death into a moment of reflection, to achieve their dreams not just for their parents and for themselves, but to honor Hoard’s memory as well.