New York

Thousands of New York City students pledge to graduate high school

NEW YORK — The academic year has started with a promise at Brooklyn Collegiate High School in Brownsville and at around 200 schools citywide, where thousands of students made a pledge to graduate from high school and make a positive change in their community. 

For the dozens of schools participating in “I WILL GRADUATE” pledge day, Monday kicked off the start of a six-week program that aims to help students stay on track through the challenges they may face in school. 

CBS2 has partnered with the nonprofit as part of our #BetterTogether campaign.

Monday is pledge day for “I Will Graduate” program


“It gives you the drive to go to college, the drive to do your work and stay committed to school,” says 12th grader Tori-Ann Reid.

I WILL GRADUATE President Sanchez Tuitt said the six-week program gives students a clear path for success as they approach their graduation. 

“We are pretty much laying out a roadmap, a plan for them to get back on track,” he told CBS2’s Hannah Kliger on Monday.

“I Will Graduate”: President Sanchez Tuitt on taking the pledge


At Brooklyn Collegiate High School, leaders from the organization hosted a lively pep rally on the third day of school, with the goal of grabbing and keeping students’ attention. 

“September is the best time to do this kind of work because we are setting goals for the future, for this year. For young people, it’s always good to set long-term goals, but it’s also really important to set short-term goals as well,” said Principal Heather Newman.



Around the city, leaders at I WILL GRADUATE say 55,000 students from seventh to 12th grade are expected to make the promise to themselves and their community.

“We have tons of opportunities for them to learn how to develop themselves and how to set goals and how to be focused towards their visions and their dreams,” said executive director and co-founder Tonya Lewis-Taylor.

“I Will Graduate” documentary coming soon


Inspired by these efforts, students at the rally said they are aiming high.

“My personal goal is to at least have enough money so I could buy my mom a house and to be able to provide for my whole family when I get older,” said 12th grader Jandel Munoz.

“I wanted to become a music producer,” senior Lee Maximin added. “So they taught me how to DJ and make music, so that was a good experience for me.”

On Oct. 3, at 10 a.m., a documentary about the making of I WILL GRADUATE will stream exclusively on CBS News New York. 

On Oct. 24, I WILL GRADUATE is hosting its annual celebration of education at Barclays Center, where it expects around 13,000 students from across the city to be inspired by a star-studded lineup. 

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