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Syracuse seniors recognized for beating the odds

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SYRACUSE, N.Y -- More than 230 students of Syracuse's Hillside Work-Scholarship Connection program graduated Thursday night in front of family and friends at the Landmark Theater.

The Syracuse City School District Seniors were once considered at risk of dropping out, but the program provided them with the academic support and mentoring they needed to persevere.

"It felt great," Marissa Bockeno said, she'll be graduating from Henninger High School in June. "Its an amazing program, an amazing experience, it feels great."

Bockeno moved from Liverpool to Syracuse during her middle school years and that is when she first heard about the Hillside program.

"My grades were always good, I had trouble transitioning from the Liverpool school to here, run-ins with a couple people nothing physical," said Bockeno.

Her rough adjustment was something Hillside considered a risk.

"The best part is obviously is to see these young people succeed, said Wayne O'Connor, Executive Director of Hillside Work-Scholarship Connection-Syracuse. "Every one of the kids in our program comes to us with two or more evidence based risk factors that puts them in great jeopardy of never graduating."

The graduation rate in New York state is 78% which is below the national rate of 82%, according to New York state education department show.

In Syracuse, the four year graduation rate is now 55% which is up from 51% the year before. 98% of students in the Hillside Work-Scholarship connection program graduate on time.

The class of 2016 was the 10th graduating from the program and the largest Hillside Syracuse has seen to date. 232 students from the city's five high schools will be receiving diplomas.






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