Thirteen years of schooling brought James Jackson to his high school graduation. "It's obviously a big moment for me and all my peers. We're moving on it's just a change," said James Jackson.
In the fall, Jackson will be moving on to the University of Albany. A change that became a reality with the help of the Say Yes to Education Program. "It had a big influence on my life. It helped me decide where to go to college, helped me financially," said Jackson.
Wednesday night, more than 200 Nottingham High School graduates took steps toward their future in their blue robes. Meanwhile, many are thanking Say Yes for being with them every step of the way. The program helps students through counseling, tutoring and other support.
For many students, the program opened doors that finances may have kept closed. Through Say Yes, Syracuse students who graduate from a city high school are eligible for free tuition at more than 100 colleges.
"It just made the college process much easier," said Seth Navin. "If they didn't offer money for Tufts I wouldn't have been able to apply there or go there because my family wouldn't have been able to afford it."
School officials say more than 125 Nottingham students are taking advantage of the the Say Yes program to help them get to college.
"I'm going to Colgate in the fall and Say Yes made it really affordable for me to be able to attend there," said Victoria Linney. "I know I want to go to law school so I know I'm able to go on to school without further debt."
"It's just phenomenal, it's a program that has opened up doors for many students. I think beyond the financial side, I really appreciate the variety of programs they offer to help students be successful in school," said Nottingham Counselor Debbie Holden.