Graduating against the odds


Graduating from high school is a rite of passage for all young people – a time to celebrate and mark the achievements of their lives to date.  But for many teenagers graduating isn’t a given – their lives are beset with such overwhelming challenges that even showing up at school every day is a major accomplishment.  We’ll talk to three young people who have overcome extraordinary obstacles to graduate this summer.

COURTNEY SIMMONS lost both her mother and sister to cancer before being diagnosed with bone cancer herself.  She battled chemotherapy last year, going on to graduate from Constitution High School this summer.  She plans to become an oncology nurse and will study at St Joseph’s University.  MANNA-SYMONE MIDDLEBROOKS grew up in a home filled with conflict.  After her parents divorced, Manna became introverted and struggled to fit in at school.  But she found a voice through writing plays, is going on to study Film, Media and Theater Studies at American University.  Valedictorian KAMERON STAPLES grew in Chester Upland School District.  Plagued by underfunding and poor performance, the district has been under state control for much of the past 20 years.  Kameron has been awarded a Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation Scholarship and will attend Brown University in the Fall.

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