KANSAS CITY, Mo. - Forty-five eighth graders at the KIPP Endeavor Academy marched into an auditorium full of family and friends for a historic celebration, to the tune of Macklemore's The Ceiling Can't Hold Us.
With cheeky grins and a few waves to their parents, the students filed in for their last day at the charter school in Kansas City'a urban core.
Perhaps their excitement was for the start of summer, but the crowd of camera-ready parents were anticipating what many called a "milestone."
Most of the students come from low income families, with 98 percent qualifying for free or reduced lunch. Most enter the school as 5th graders with reading and math levels of a 3rd grader.
"A lot of work is done in the beginning just getting students caught up," school leader Jake Schmitz said.
Schmitz said KIPP uses extended hours of school and an engaging staff of teachers to not only bring the students up to par, but prepare them for acceptance in to some of the area's top private college preparatory high schools. Still, one obstacle remains.
"Many of those schools have high tuition," Schimtz said. "Our students get accepted in these schools but unfortunately can't afford them."
Schmitz said KIPP is committed to getting their students the education they deserve, and it works with students to get scholarships. The school also hosts fundraiser events on First Friday, with all the proceeds going towards sending students to top schools.
As the 45 teenagers celebrated the completion of 8th grade, they left behind some pretty big shoes for the next class.
For the first time in school history, every single 8th grader was accepted into top-performing high schools.
Despite the financial hurdle, the students stood proudly with a optimistic vision that "the ceiling can't hold them."