A commencement ceremony recently celebrated 39 high school students who beat the odds. All these teens thrived given free tuition from Girard College (a boarding school for kids and teens established in 1848 to serve orphans).

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% of the kids graduate high school and only a small fraction of those continue their education.

“98% of these amazing Girard students sitting in front of me are not only graduating, they’re going on to colleges like the University of Pennsylvania, Wesleyan and Howard,” wrote Brad Aronson on his blog.

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