Some 50 of Rochester's high achievers were celebrated Wednesday night, shining light on the positive in the Rochester City School District.
Rochester Children’s Scholarship Fund President Marie Fisher said the program helps recognize several shining stars in a district plagued by low graduation rates.
“It’s absolutely essential to know there are students that are doing the right thing and making the right choices in this community. Too often, we hear about the terrible tragedies that are happening. We need to celebrate our successes," Fisher said.
Those high achieving students were recognized Wednesday night. About 50 of the district's brightest students were honored for their hard work.
Each of the students is a recipient of the fund, which provides stipends and support services to low-income, high-achieving students in the district.
"One of our kids once said, we talk about public education being free, but people say that who don't know what it’s like to be poor,” said Fisher.
The scholarship is awarded to 9th graders and depending on their academic achievement, each marking period the funding can continue throughout their high school career. In most cases, the money is used to pay for books, school supplies, and field trips.
Scholarship recipient Frederick Griffin said this resource was invaluable.
“The program has helped me financially by helping buy the things I need for school. It also served as a motivator, which led me to graduate at the top of my class," Griffin said.
Griffin said the scholarship led him to focus more on his work. He had to achieve at least a 3.25 GPA each marking period to keep the scholarship. He exceeded that, and he's now the valedictorian of All-City High School on the Marshall Campus.
"I'm really proud of myself because I proved the stereotypes wrong. A lot of people judge the city schools but they don't know the true story inside. We have excellent teachers, excellent staff, that help our success," Griffin said.
Maxine Green, his mom, said it wasn’t always easy for son.
“He was really struggling in school and when we found out about this program, he was like 'mom, I can do this.' By him participating, it made him be the best at what he can do," Green said.
Fisher said success stories are common for scholarship recipients.
"We have a 100 percent high school graduation rate. 90 percent of our students go on to higher education. Many have gone on to Harvard, MIT, a lot have stayed local," Fisher said.
Upon graduation, Griffin is headed to Monroe Community College, and then to St. John Fisher for the college's pharmacy program.