University of Pennsylvania. Wesleyan. Howard. These are some of the fine institutions that the 39 graduates from Girard College, a boarding school for at-risk students in Philadelphia, will be attending in the fall.
Accomplishing an amazing feat, nearly 100 percent of the teens that received diplomas from Girard College will attend school next fall. As blogger Brad Aronson (who attended Girard’s high school graduation last month) wrote, “Most of the students are from areas of Philadelphia where it’s assumed that they won’t go to college. They’re from neighborhoods where less than 60 percent of the kids graduate high school and only a small fraction of those continue their education.”
Founded in 1848, Girard College is an independent five-day-a-week boarding school for economically disadvantaged children grades 1-12. All Girard students receive a 100 percent scholarship for tuition, room and board — valued around $40,000 a year. To qualify, students must come from a home without one or both parents and qualify as “low-income.”
According to The Encyclopedia of Greater Philadelphia, the school has graduated more than 20,000 orphans and children from financially needy families.
While this graduation rate sounds amazing to most of us (especially considering the circumstances), it turns out that it’s not particularly noteworthy that nearly every graduating senior from the class of 2014 is headed for higher education. The school boasts a college acceptance rate is nearly 100 percent. “In the last 10 years, 89 percent of Girard graduates attended a four-year college; 7 percent attended a two-year institution and 2 percent attended a vocational or technical school,” the educational institution reports on its website. In comparison, the average college-going rate of high school students for the state of Pennsylvania is only 61 percent.
Going to college is already a big achievement, but it’s also a means to break into the middle class. Aronson also described how moved he was after meeting the students’ families: “I met parents who hadn’t graduated high school. They were crying and cheering for their children who had achieved so much more. Children who had broken the cycle in their families and given future generations a new standard to aspire to.”