One hundred and four: that's the number of students in the senior class at Urban Prep Charter Academy for Young Men on the south side.
They are all graduating and "college bound." They "signed on" to their futures in a special ceremony on Wednesday.
Every senior who graduates must sign his name, and the name of the school he'll be attending, in the Credimus Book. That is Latin for “we believe.”
"You are part of something bigger than yourselves, more important than just you,” CEO of Urban Prep Academies Tim King told the graduating class. “You were part of transforming our entire society."
Urban Prep is on Chicago’s South Side, in the Englewood neighborhood.
A couple of years ago, these streets were ranked among the toughest in the nation.
But these graduating seniors said Urban Prep has given them, and the community, a new reason to hope for lives where guns and violence do not plague them.
"To preserve and never give up!!! And don't let these harsh stereotypes and hard statics deter me from reaching my ultimate goal," Cedric Hakeem said.
To get there, these students had to take double periods of English, and spend more than an hour of school in class than students at Chicago Public Schools.
When these young men started at Urban Prep in the fall of 2007, officials said most were not reading at grade level.
The class of 2011 will be receiving more than $5 million in scholarships and grants.