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Every senior at Oakland high school accepted to four-year colleges

<i>KPIX via CNN Newsource</i><br/>Few things can match the anticipation of a commencement ceremony
KPIX via CNN Newsource
Few things can match the anticipation of a commencement ceremony

By Itay Hod

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    OAKLAND (KPIX) — Few things can match the anticipation of a commencement ceremony, when students in matching gowns strut across the stage to collect their hard-earned diplomas.

But at Oakland’s Cristo Rey De La Salle East Bay High School, graduation might actually be the second most exciting day of the year.

“A first-generation student this means a lot to me,” senior Marisol Garibaldi said.

Ever since she was a little girl, Garibaldi dreamed of going to college. But two weeks before graduation, she got to announce to the world where she was headed during her school’s so-called College Reveal Day.

“I’m excited to just be able to brag a little bit about where I’m going,” she said.

Also known as Declaration Day, these ceremonies are becoming increasingly popular in recent years. But what makes Cristo Rey’s different from any other, is that for the third year in a row every single senior has been accepted to a four-year university.

And if that’s not impressive enough, all of them come from low-income families, where few of their parents had any opportunity for higher education.

Paola Duenas, the guidance counselor, said the reason the school has been so successful is that every student has a team of academic that works with them one on one and are available to them for six years after graduation.

“Every student deserves an opportunity and they’re all college bound,” she said.

The school has a unique approach that gives students both classroom and real-world experience through a work program that also offsets tuition.

“We have wonderful corporate partners that partner with us and provide an amazing experience for our students in that they mentor them in a job vocation doing work over the course of four years,” said Principal Jessica Murray.

As for Garibaldi, she’s not just going to any college, she’s headed to UC Berkeley.

“it’s a huge moment for me personally,” she said. “I’m seeing everything that I worked so hard coming to light in one day.”

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