Student from struggling Philadelphia school beats odds, graduates from college
During the 2012 to 2013 school year, ABC News' Diane Sawyer and ABC News producers captured the chaos inside Philadelphia's Strawberry Mansion High School. In a special ABC News "Hidden America" report on the school that first aired in May 2013, the team followed the daily lives of students and faculty, including new principal, Linda Cliatt-Wayman, who set out to change the school, breaking up fights, erecting 94 security cameras and sharing her message of possibility student by student. Wayman even ended the school day with: "If nobody told you they loved you today, you remember I do." In a major achievement, Wayman, in her first year as principal, helped get 55 of 92 seniors accepted to college. High school senior Christine Holland was accepted to Philadelphia University, but faced not being able to register for college because she could not afford the $550 deposit to secure her admission. Holland's disappointment brought Wayman to tears. After ABC News aired its reports on Strawberry Mansion High School, viewers sent in donations and that money helped set up 13 educational funds for graduating seniors. Thanks to donations covering her books and food as well as a full scholarship from Philadelphia University, Holland was able to attend college.
"I knew I could do it if I was able to go to school," she said. "I just didn't know how I was going to live on campus, how I was going to eat every day."In May, Holland graduated from Philadelphia University with a degree in accounting and business administration. She's been offered a scholarship to pursue her master's degree in the university's MBA program. "I'm just really grateful for everyone that helped me out," she said. At the graduation, Wayman was in attendance. After more than four years, she stepped down as principal of Strawberry Mansion High School. After Wayman's first year, Strawberry Mansion was removed from the state's list of "Persistently Dangerous Schools." Since then, it has stayed off the list. "What I came to do, many years ago, was to take as many kids out of poverty as I could," Wayman said. "And I look at Christine and she's just one more."