Newark Public Schools Graduates to Attend Top Colleges Across the Country

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Members of the Class of 2017 were awarded over $15.7 million in scholarships and will attend over 135 U.S. institutions of higher education in the fall

[Newark, NJ – June 26, 2017] This week, Newark Public Schools (NPS) held graduation ceremonies for 1,926 students across 16 Newark high schools. Thousands of NPS community members, including faculty, staff, school and district administrators, and family and friends of the graduates attended the ceremonies, celebrating the achievements of NPS seniors and the culmination of their K-12 education. A variety of community leaders also attended the commencement ceremonies as keynote speakers, including Newark Mayor Ras J. Baraka, legendary basketball coach Vanessa Watson, former principal and renowned speaker Gemar Mills, New Jersey Devils President Hugh Weber, and former Democratic Gubernatorial candidate Jim Johnson, providing inspiration and words of wisdom to this year’s senior graduates. This upcoming fall, NPS seniors will be attending over 135 colleges, universities, and vocational schools across the United States.

“Congratulations to each of our senior graduates on their achievements that have led to this monumental milestone,” said Christopher D. Cerf, Superintendent of Newark Public Schools. “Our school community is so proud of the accomplishments of our seniors and wishes each of them success as they continue to advance toward their college, career, and life goals. As we celebrate our graduates’ achievements, I would also like to thank their committed parents and families, along with our teachers and community members who are so instrumental in supporting and shaping them into the brilliant young men and women they are today.”

Throughout the 2016-2017 academic year, NPS seniors researched, visited, and applied to a wide-range of institutions. Below are a few significant facts about this year’s graduating class:

  • More than 75% of graduating seniors are expected to attend two or four year colleges or universities.
  • 14% of seniors were accepted to 5 or more colleges or universities.
  • 71 students will also be graduating with associates degrees.
    • 14 students from East Side earned their associates from Essex County College.
    • 57 students from Bard Early College earned their associates degree from Bard College.
  • 7 students will be attending Ivy league schools at either Harvard University, Yale University, Princeton University, the University of Pennsylvania, or Columbia University on a full-tuition scholarship.
  • 52 students will be joining the United States Armed Forces.
  • Collectively, NPS seniors have already received $15,728,233 in scholarships from a wide range of colleges, universities, community organizations and additional institutions across the United States.

“I’m incredibly proud of our NPS graduates for their accomplishments that have resulted from the hard work, talent, and grit that they have displayed throughout their lives,” said Robert Gregory, Deputy Superintendent of Schools and former principal of American History High School. “I’m confident our scholars will continue to make Newark proud as they go on to pursue and achieve their future goals and I look forward to hearing about all that they accomplish in the coming years.”

Over the past several months, NPS seniors have celebrated the conclusion to their K-12 journey through a variety of events, including the district’s first annual College Decision Day in May and the fourth annual Superintendent’s Awards Banquet earlier this month. Senior leaders across the district have also provided words of encouragement to their peers as they transition into the next chapter in their lives.

“I don’t believe in excuses, which is why I take advantage of opportunities afforded to me,” said Lucia Couto, valedictorian of Arts High School. “Don’t let people’s opinions about where you come from make you think in a certain way. I love Newark and I am proud to say I live here. A lot of good things and people come from Newark.” Lucia will be attending Harvard University in the fall on a full-tuition scholarship and intends to major in medical physics.

“I am extremely happy to receive my scholarship,” added Michael Lawrence a West Side High School graduate whose entire tuition at NJIT will be covered by scholarships. “I want to thank my support system of friends, family, and teachers who pushed me to be someone who is passionate for success. I hope this is the first step to honor the legacy of the love and support of those who are especially close to me.”

Early projections show that NPS will once again increase its high school graduation rate this year, though these projections will not be officially confirmed until data is finalized in August. Earlier this year, the New Jersey Department of Education released data showing that Newark’s high school graduation rate increased to 73.5 percent in 2016, up four percentage points from 2015. This data also showed that this is the fourth consecutive year this rate has increased in Newark. Newark’s graduation rate is up nearly 15 percentage points since 2011.

For more information about Newark’s graduates, see the graduation spotlight on the district’s webpage.