LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — For the seventh consecutive year, 100 percent of the graduates from a school in Watts that serves the underserved have been accepted to a four-year college or university.

Students from Verbum Dei High School walked the stage Thursday night during graduation in downtown Los Angeles.

The students accepted into the all-boys Catholic school are one to two years behind academically. In order to be accepted, a family of four must make under $40,000.

“It’s emotional because my parents were always there and my family. They were always supporting me and my friends, they were always trying, we were pushing each other to get to this finish line,” said
Miguel Morales, who fought back tears as he will be the first in his family to attend college.

Thursday night, 70 students graduated, all of whom will begin a new journey continuing their educations.

“The difference with our students is that they want it. And their parents want it, and they’re committed to that and that commitment leads them to where they are today,” Martinique Starnes, a dean, said.

Morales’ parents say they’re hugging their son a little tighter knowing soon he will be off to college.

“It was so hard. There was a lot of stressful nights. Day when I wanted just to quit but my mom was always there and she told me, ‘It’s going to pay off one day.’ And today, it’s paying off,” Morales said.

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