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Early ‘Head Start’ program launched at KCMO high school is first of its kind in metro

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- High school students face many challenges, and for some in the metro, parenting can be a tough life circumstance. Kansas City Public Schools celebrated a program Friday, aimed at letting those students know they don't have to walk through that alone.

Davionne Cannon is an 18-year-old senior at the Central Academy for Excellence. He's working on his last year of high school and learning how to raise his 6-week-old daughter Noni. He said, "We never had resources growing up and from previous relatives, resources like this didn’t come easily."

What came easily Friday were smiles and support at the grand opening celebration of the Early Head Start Program at Central. Speaking to students from a podium, Principal Anthony Madry said, "Yall are the true VIPS. Keep coming to school. Keep doing what you do, and if you need, ask." He encouraged his students who are young moms and dads.

KCPS Superintendent Dr. Mark Bedell said, "This is the first school to have an Early Head Start program in the metro." He was moved as Davionne and another young parent shared their stories with the people who helped make the program possible.

Participants say Noni, and other infants and toddlers, will have their own education program while their parents continue working toward graduation day. Cannon has visions of that day often. He said with a laugh, "I think about it all the time actually. Graduation day, I picture myself walking across the stage. When I hop off the stage, I pick my daughter up, take my picture with my diploma and hold it up to the sky!"

It's a goal the students and organizers are all working toward, and they say the Early Head Start Program will help them get there.

The federal program is for infants through 3-year-old toddlers.