ST. LOUIS (KMOX) – For perhaps the first time in its history, as far as anyone can recall, St. Louis City Hall played host to a high school graduation ceremony Thursday.
The event at the mayor’s office was doable because there were only two students receiving diplomas.
But 17-year-old Cedric Deshay and 18-year-old Jeavon Gill aren’t just any students — they’re the first-ever graduates of Workforce High School, operated by the St. Louis Agency on Training and Employment (SLATE).
Workforce High opened just a few months ago in partnership with the St. Louis Public School District, and it offers students 24/7 access to “education mentorship, financial empowerment, and holistic case management services.”
The pilot program was created to help young adults who were previously unsuccessful in traditional school environments and now have life commitments that might stand in the way of improving their lives.
For instance, both WHS graduates were high school dropouts who faced the prospect of heading down the wrong road.
“I overcame incarceration and a lot of bad habits,” Gill explained.
“It could have changed a whole lot,” Deshay said of his current life path. “I mean, I could have taken the bad way to get to where I’m at now, but I didn’t. I stuck to my mind and now I’m going to the Air Force.”
Gill said he’s ready to enroll in nursing school.
“Problem-solving. Reasoning. Curiosity. These are the superpowers of the 21st century, and now you have them,” said Mayor Francis Slay during an hour-long ceremony in his office. “You will find that this was a good thing that you did and that it was well worth your efforts.”
About 30 students currently take classes offered by Workforce High School, one of only two institutions like it in the country.