Former President Bill Clinton was the keynote speaker at the first New Orleans high school graduation ceremony for 37 students in an Urban League after-school education initiative. Special attention given during high school will continue throughout the students’ college years.
The Urban League’s College Track program targets low-income students in their middle schools to prepare them for four-year college degrees. One is 17-year-old Christopher Williams, who attended Brother Martin High School. He’ll now be attending Missouri Southern State University. He was speaking about the importance of Clinton’s appearance, and was surprised by his mother, Charlene.
“It means a lot. It shows he came out to support students that’s trying to make a difference and trying to be the next presidents in the world.”
“”How you doing? Yes, that’s my son. “
“What are you thinking about tonight?”
“Well this is a very special moment.”
In his keynote address, Clinton said his thoughts are also with students who didn’t get into the College Track program, but could still be influenced by the graduates’ achievements.
“People who live down the street from you can look at you and say “That young man, that young woman made a choice and stuck with it and saw it through.’ And you’re going to be free in a way you never could have been because you’ll have choices that most people who’ve ever lived never got to make. And if you make them well you’ll bring your country along for the ride. You’ll bring New Orleans not only back from Katrina you will take it to heights it has never known before.”
More than 150 students in New Orleans are now in the College Track program. Officials say 85 percent of them could become the first in their family to earn a college degree.