By Pat Loeb
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Dozens of Philadelphia high schools will have graduation ceremonies in the next couple of weeks but, Friday, seniors from 70 schools marched in a citywide graduation celebration.
Hundreds of seniors, clad in t-shirts that said, “I did it,” marched from Broad and Pine to City Hall. Mayor Michael Nutter led the parade, joined by Superintendent Dr. William Hite.
Nutter reveled in their achievements.
“We want people to see you. We are proud of you as high school graduates,” Nutter said.
Proud parents, like Sandra Spincer marched too, wearing t-shirts that said, “And I helped.”
“It’s exciting, he’s my first one. I can’t believe he’s graduating already,” Spincer said.
Students had to have a B+ average or higher to march. Stephen Snipes, a soon-to-be-alum of Carver who’s headed to Penn State in the fall, appreciated the attention.
“Having a blast, being recognized by Philadelphia. It’s great just to be here,” Snipes said.
Katie Kilcullen was part of the contingent from Saul High School in Roxborough.
“It’s bittersweet. I’m going to miss high school and it’s going to be harder now that I’m out in the real world but I’m excited for the future,” Kilcullen said.
The annual celebration started three years ago, to focus attention on the city’s effort to raise graduation rates. Lori Shorr from the Mayor’s Office of Education says the rate has gone from 53 percent in 2007 to 64 percent this year.
“I think kids used to be able to drop off the ledge and nobody paid attention. I think there’s more accountability,” Shorr said.
Shorr also thinks students are more aware of how important it is to graduate and hopes events like this inspire students to persevere.