CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) - The 23 graduates almost doubled last January's graduation class from Metro High School. These same students were once at risk of not reaching this milestone.
"It's an opportunity to celebrate some students that have overcome some exceptional things," said Metro High School principal Dan DeVore.
"I'm really excited and nervous," said Caleb Velasquez. "I feel so accomplished, like I can do more."
Velasquez said class wasn't always easy for him, so he had to make it like a game of tag.
"I made school fun because I hated it but I made it through," said Velasquez.
Velasquez said it became difficult to do, with a rough home life on top of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder.
"It drags through to school," said Velasquez. "You just have to think of how not to think of that stuff while you're going through school and focus on school which is really hard especially when you have ADHD."
He said it all came together through a strong support system.
"I've had teachers help me beside my way," said Velasquez. They've Help me get through the tough times that I had. Help me catch up on work. I slacked on but trusted in the teachers really."
Denaya Kemp said it's keeping her eye on the bigger picture that's gotten her this far.
"Just pretty much focus on what you have going on and not worry about what everybody else is doing and you'll be fine, I believe," said Kemp.
It's something that hasn't always been easy for Kemp.
"I've had a lot of tough times," said Kemp. "I've been crying because it was too tough at times but you just got to get past it, you just got to get over it."
Many of them have already been dealing with real-world problems for years but with preparation at Metro they're one step closer to conquering it all.
Principal DeVore said there isn't one clear reason why so many students successfully graduated this semester but he expects at least more forty to graduate in May.