KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- The 42 University Academy students who graduated Thursday earned a record $12.4 million in college scholarships.
It eclipsed the previous record for the Kansas City public charter school of $7.1 million.
From the minute Kindergartners enter the halls of University Academy lined with pennants of the universities graduates have attended, they're reminded of the goal. After all, it's in the school's name.
"We have to make sure they are ready for college. One of the joys of my life is to have kids come back and say why did you scare us like that? College is easy!" University Academy Principal Principal Dr. Clem Ukaoma said.
In a crowd of proud parents, the school`s maintenance man had extra reason to celebrate at Thursday's graduation.
"It`s overwhelming just seeing my daughter graduate now and going to Harvard," Joardy Looney said.
His daughter, the salutatorian and Student Council president, is one of three grads this year accepted into prestigious Ivy League colleges.
"Harvard and so many other colleges want to be inclusive as possible but so many people have a stigma they only want a certain type of person," Bernadette Looney said.
Looney's scholarship is worth more than $320,000. She's the first of her nine siblings to go to college.
Kenath Mitchell is heading to one of the nation`s best architecture schools on scholarship, Cornell.
"It's definitely something inspiring to see something you don't see everyday. To see all of my classmates that I've been going to school forever with going to college, I just think people should acknowledge it, to say that anything is possible for anybody," Mitchell said.
"If you focus on the gap, it ends up inadvertently providing a bigger gap. But if you focus on achievement, getting the kids to achieve, invariably they achieve," Ukaoma said.