For alternative high school students, graduation is more than a diploma

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For students from an alternative high school, graduation means more than a diploma (WLS)

On Friday, hundreds of students on Chicago's South Side took part in a very special graduation. For them, getting a high school diploma is more than just hitting a milestone, for them, it's truly a second chance.

For the students graduating a part of Camelot's Alternative Education Program, it's a day that not too long ago, they thought would never come. Proud families came to capture every moment, knowing just how special every moment is.

All 231 students at the graduation had either dropped out of high school or they were at risk of falling way behind.

"These students have now found their inner greatness, have seen success and theyre now ready to conquer the world, these are the stories that need to be told every day anbout the students that believe in themselves and somebody believed in them," Tyree Booker, executive director of Excel Academy of Roseland, said.

Camelot's Alternative Education Program has partnered with Chicago Public Schools since 2012 offering an alternative campus for students faced with challenges and struggles that otherwise may have left them behind.

The students on Friday came from Camelot's four campuses, Englewood, Roseland, Southshore and Southwest. Many are the first in their families to graduate high school. Some have their own children and look forward to a brighter future.

"I have three children. I have a 2-year-old , a 1-year-old and I have a 3-month-old. I'm a proud mother as you can see. A very, very proud mother," Jamia Taylor, a graduate, said. "I want to make it somewhere in life so my kids won't have to follow my footsteps. They can make it somewhere better. They can achieve better goals than me. They can finish high school on time."

Taylor will be going to trade school, and all of the students leave with a life plan. They're either going on to college or they're starting with a job.

There were many tears Friday, but they were tears of joy.
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