Majority of Santa Fe South students are first-generation graduates

OKLAHOMA CITY - Located inside the former Crossroads Mall, Santa Fe South High School students are accomplishing an extraordinary feat. They will do something their parents weren't able to do, by getting a high school diploma.

"I will be the first in my family to graduate high school and attend college as well, so I'm a first-generation student,” said Iliana Barriantos, a high school senior.

"A majority of high school graduates this year, as in all years, will be first-generation high school graduates,” said Superintendent of Santa Fe South Schools Chris Brewster.

Around 60 percent of the seniors at Santa Fe South in south Oklahoma City are first-generation graduates.

"One of the things we fight is generational poverty. We know the number one way out of poverty is education,” Brewster said.

Ninety percent of the students there are on free and reduced lunch, which is a four percent decline than when the school first opened in 2001.

"Many of our students come from families that are blue collar, that are extremely hardworking but that are low wage jobs,” Brewster said.

"My dad came here at 17 years old, my mom at 18 and, as soon as they got here, they started to work,” said David Ramirez, a high school senior.

Many of them come from immigrant families who moved from Mexico to create a better future for their children, like Erika Franco who lived much of her life in Mexico.

"My parents, they didn't finish high school. My mom didn't go to high school. She stopped in middle school,” said Franco, a senior at Santa Fe South.

But, Franco said she will graduate and go to college because of the influence in the classroom.

"If you don't have the motivation at home, to find it yourself in people that are willing to put the effort in you and believe in you. I found it mostly at school with my teachers and outside volunteering," she said.

The next generation won’t let obstacles get in their way.

Brewster said every single senior will be accepted into a two- or four-year institution when they graduate.