CHICAGO (CBS) — Graduation is always a big day, but for one West side school, there’s something extra to celebrate this year.
Against all odds, Michele Clark Magnet High School says all 100 of their high school seniors received diplomas, stating they have a 100 percent graduation rate this year.
CBS 2’s Audrina Bigos was there as students walked across the stage Thursday.
“It’s hard for these kids to grow up and come to school and graduate on time,” said a parent of a graduating senior.
Michele Clark Magnet High School, nestled on Chicago’s West side, is located in the Austin neighborhood.
Parents say they’re so proud of their students and their classmates.
Gladys Robinson is a parent of a graduating senior.
Robinson said, “The environment [is] full of drugs, alcohol, and violence. Now our youth has a chance at a better life.”
Annette Carter, another parent, agrees. When asked what this means for a West-Side school she stated, “Words can’t even describe it. I was like 100% I couldn’t believe it.”
“When I first heard 100% graduation, I was like ‘I’m proud!’ ” said graduate Jazmen Tanksley. “All of us are African American and you rarely see that in this day and age. Kids give up, drop out, they lose faith, lose hope.”
Jazmen Tanksley says she knows firsthand because she lost her mom when she was 8-years-old and her father wasn’t around.
“I was just lost. I didn’t know what to do or how to do it,” she recalled.
She says her grandmother stepped in and now she’s the first of nine siblings to go to college. She says she thanks God and her school.
“I really never thought a school could help me that much,” Tanksley said. “They pushed me to do better.”
Tanksley says she put part of her favorite scripture on her hat, while she had her mom at the top of her mind.
“I’ve been thinking about her all day,” she said. “I know she’s proud of me. I’m going to make the best of it.”
All of the students have committed to college or the military.
The school is named after Michele Clark, a late Chicago journalist who was killed in a plane crash in 1972. She worked as a reporter at CBS 2.