Camden school's 100 percent graduation rate continues

Sharrie Williams Image
Saturday, June 28, 2014
VIDEO: Camden school's 100 percent graduation rate continues
A Camden school is marking a major achievement - for a decade straight, every one of their students received diplomas and are headed to college.

CAMDEN, N.J. (WPVI) -- Excellence is the perfect way to describe the hardworking students and teachers at LEAP Academy University Charter School in Camden.

For a decade straight, 100 percent of their students have earned their diploma and 100 percent are heading to college.

This year is LEAP's largest graduating class yet with 120 students.

Marco Lopez is heading to Rutgers University to study Engineering.

"This school has really given me the integrity that I need to push through high school, I'm ready for college," said Lopez.

It's a joyous occasion for Camden, known as one of the poorest, most violent cities in the country.

Gloria Bonilla-Santiago is founder of LEAP

"Kids from Camden are really the miracle. The children that nobody ever believed could do it," said Bonilla-Santiago.

"The teachers are more very dedicated, they are in tuned with the students, not just about our education but us personally," said Destiny Bingham, graduate.

It's a proud night for parents as well.

Vanessa Jones' son Peter has been in LEAP since kindergarten.

"This has been an entire journey, so to make it to this day is unreal and unbelievable. It's a statement there is power in Camden," said Jones.

"They are children from the city, they come from the same neighborhood everybody comes and it really shows we can break a cycle of poverty every time you graduate a child and send them to college," said Bonilla-Santiago.

These young graduates are going to colleges across the country including Emery University, Princeton University, the University of Pennsylvania and Rowan University.

Students in the class of 2014 have been awarded a combined total of $4 million in scholarship money, the most ever for LEAP.