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MIAMI (CBSMiami) — Miami Northwestern Senior High recognized students for their achievements in the classroom on Friday.

The liberty city school gave awards to students who have received college acceptance letters and scholarships.

So far they’ve received $2.3 million worth of scholarship money and the goal is to get more than $10 million before graduation.

“In the past many seniors, graduating seniors, didn’t have money for college or they were struggling to get money for college so that would hinder them form going to college,” said student government president Sara St. Juste.

So far this year 200 of the 350 seniors have been accepted to college, which is double the amount from the same time last year.

“You have students more and more that are saying, ‘Hey if my buddy is in a dual-enrollment or he’s taking a college course, I can do the same thing’,” said the schools principal Wallace Aristide. “This is becoming a reality. The opportunity to go to a college or university of their choice — because many students come from low socioeconomic backgrounds.”

Miami Northwestern has faced challenges. This year four students were shot and killed. Despite the tragedy and violence that surrounds the school, the seniors are determined to succeed.

“A lot of students, they go through something and then drop out. I believe I’m better than that,” said senior Richay Dorival, who lost a friend and uncle this year to gun violence. “I’m doing good in school, I don’t let anything affect that but I do go through a lot.”

Principal Aristide said the students’ initiative and school programs have helped change the mindset and expectations among students.

Many of this year’s graduating seniors will be the first in their family to go to college.

“It motivates me to encourage others and make sure that I graduate high school and I graduate college so that others who are in gangs or are getting lost in the street know that there’s a way out,” said senior Keno Tate. “They can come to school and graduate and have a better life.”

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