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KIPP Pride High sends every senior to college

The faculty of KIPP Pride High School in Northampton County has the right to boast: All 48 seniors are graduating this year – and all are going onto college.

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GASTON, N.C. — The faculty of KIPP Pride High School has the right to boast: All 48 seniors are graduating this year – and all are going onto college.

"People who said we wouldn't be able to do this or they couldn't do that – our family, students and teachers have just proven what's possible," school founder Tammi Sutton said.

The class of 2009 is the first to graduate from the charter school system in Gaston, a rural, lower-income area in Northampton County. The middle and high schools, which are part of the national Knowledge is Power Program, were created in 2001 for students dreaming of attending big-name colleges.

"We are in an under-served area, but being in an under-served area does not mean that our children should be under-served," parent Yvonne Gee said.

Eight years later, sheets of paper announcing all the colleges to which the students have been accepted cover a wall in KIPP Pride High's front hallway. They ranged from Xavier University in Cincinnati to Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem.

At a schoolwide ceremony April 30, the seniors stood up individually and revealed their final college plans. They celebrated, waving T-shirts from their chosen colleges.

Senior Ashley Copeland recalled being recruited by several Ivy League colleges, including her eventual choice, the University of Pennsylvania.

"They paid for our trip to go, so that was amazing," Copeland said.

The success has come after a lot of hard work by the KIPP Pride High seniors. Five days a week, they were in class from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

KIPP states as a core principle that for students, parents and teachers, "just as there are no shortcuts, there are no excuses." In addition to the long hours, students are held to high expectations and academic standards; parents are expected to be involved; and principals must exercise leadership, managing budgets and hiring staff.

Demand for a KIPP education in Gaston has created a waiting list of students.

"Moms and dads who are literally expecting come to put their names of the waiting list," Sutton said.

Teachers said they expect more of the same from seniors in the future.

"All of our kids can do amazing thing," teacher Russ Ramsey said.



Beau Minnick, Reporter
Anne Johnson, Web Editor

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