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New St. Louis high school for at-risk students holds first graduation

Cedric Deshay and Jeavon Gill walk into the mayor's office to receive their high school diplomas on April 13, 2017.
Camille Phillips | St. Louis Public Radio
Cedric Deshay and Jeavon Gill walk into the mayor's office to receive their high school diplomas Thursday.

Just four months after the launch of a new, 24-hour high school for students in danger of dropping out, two young men from St. Louis received their diplomas Thursday.

Jeavon Gill and Cedric Deshay took online classes at the city’s job agency as part of the Workforce High School pilot program. St. Louis Public Schools provided the curriculum and the instructor. The job agency provided the space and the mentors.

“I’m done with school except for college,” said Gill, who spent time in jail last year for second-degree robbery. An administrator with the St. Louis Job Agency said studying at Workforce High through the agency’s Prison to Prosperity program helped get his charges dropped.

“I actually thought I wasn’t going to graduate because of my environment and what I went through, but I’m proud of myself that I actually did,” said Deshay, whose mom died when he was 13.

Deshay said he had to work long hours this week to finish his last three courses before the ceremony.

“I was putting in work, as you can see. I was tired, hungry. They was supporting us though, they was bringing me food to keep me up. They was motivating me and now I’m done and I did it,” Deshay said.

The graduation ceremony took place in the mayor’s office. Mayor Francis Slay gave the keynote speech.

“Continue to take advantage of the opportunities that come your way,” Slay told Gill and Deshay. “You should be proud of yourselves. I’m proud of you.”

Slay also told the graduates they were an important part of the city of St. Louis and encouraged them to take part in the city because the city needs their talents.

An earlier version of this story misspelled Jeavon Gill's first name.

Follow Camille on Twitter: @cmpcamille