Cristo Rey High School's first graduating class gets accepted into college

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Cristo Rey High School's first graduating class learned Friday all 86 seniors got accepted into four-year colleges. (WPVI)

Cristo Rey High School's first graduating class learned Friday all 86 seniors got accepted into four-year colleges.

"It was a promise that we made to families that we didn't have any teachers, we didn't have any books, we didn't have a school, but we had a dream and a promise," said Dr. Michael Gomez, principal.

To be admitted into the school, students must meet two requirements: they must come from a low-income household and they must want to go to college.

Around 100 area businesses play a huge part, by employing the students.

"It's an independent school and students work about 50 days a year, five days a month and their salaries go directly to us for part of their tuition," said Gomez. "Parents pay what they can afford, and then our generous donors pay the rest."

There are a network of Cristo Rey Schools across the country - only one in Philadelphia. It is a Catholic school, but for students of all faiths and not part of the archdiocese.

During an awards ceremony, senior Raven Parker Watson made the college admissions announcement.

"It's rewarding cause this is what we all have been working up towards," said Parker of Logan.

"I've gotten accepted to a lot of schools such as Penn State and Xavier," said Johnathon Ortiz of North Philadelphia. "One school I'm really waiting for is Georgetown. That's my top school so if I get accepted there I have to go."

Ortiz also nabbed a prestigious scholarship only awarded to two students in each state.

"I feel like this school is the right place for me. They've helped me with everything I've done so far," said Ortiz. "I'm so grateful for them."

The educators at the school not only make sure the kids get into college, they stick with them and make sure they graduate and help them figure out a way to pay for it.

"Now were focusing on the FAFSA and financial aid coming up. Actually this past weekend class we learned about how to budget yourself while you're in college or once you graduate from college," said Isaiah Gabriel of Northeast Philadelphia.
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