SPOKANE, Wash. — Spokane Public Schools celebrated its seniors this week.

More than 70 seniors from North Central High School, Rogers High School and The On Track Academy will be the first to graduate in their families.

Monday night, hundreds of students, parents and educators gathered to celebrate the future graduates.

Graduation will be a culmination of the hard work they put in over the last four years.

Senior Daniel Jolley plans to attend Eastern Washington University next fall. He is the youngest in his family and the only one to attend college.

"I am happy that I get to do it. I rather be first than there be none. It's kind of a cool thing that I am going to college, because I am the youngest and I don't have anyone to look up to who has gone to college,” Jolley said.

Jolley’s classmate Shareeda Whitehurst also will be the first one in her family to pursue higher education. It is an accomplishment she, at one time, doubted would happen. She said she was kicked out of her house at the beginning of the school year.

"Senior year had been really rough for me. Not living with my mother anymore, kind of being on my own and working and having to go to school at the same time was really challenging,” Whitehurst said.

Whitehurst said at times she felt like giving up. She credits her teachers and counselors who helped get her through to graduation.

"I want to work for what I want in life. I want to be better. I want to help people. I want to do big things,” Whitehurst said.

Whitehurst plans to attend Spokane Falls Community College next year and then transfer to Eastern Washington University. She wants to pursue a career in social work.

Jolley and Whitehurst are part of the 94 percent of Rogers High School seniors who applied to a post graduate program this year. Out of the 279 seniors, 270 of them applied to at least one college, trade program or signed up to join the military. This is a school record.

In total, students received 418 acceptances. This number includes students who applied to multiple schools.

Here is a look at the area-college acceptances by the numbers.

  • SCC-122
  • SFCC – 92
  • Whitworth – 18
  • EWU – 109
  • CWU – 17
  • WSU – 32
  • UW – 8
  • WWU – 7
  • Gonzaga – 3

These numbers show the progress that has been made at Rogers High School.

Teachers, counselors and administrators have made it a point to find ways to get students to graduate and consider their career options. 

“There are so many pieces to the puzzle. There's all these pieces out there and my job is that I take those pieces and I help them all put it together. And when it all gets together you can see them go 'aha’,” Nancy Pemberton, Rogers High School career specialist, said. 

Over the last 11 years, the percentage of Rogers students attending college has risen from 21 to 50 percent. The percentage of those who return to college for a second year has risen from 16 percent to 69 percent.

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