ALBANY, N.Y.---It's a charter school success story dating back to 2005, when KIPP Tech Valley was founded with its first group of fifth graders.
Those fifth graders are now graduating high school.
It's a big milestone for the charter school, with 82 percent of its first graduating class heading to college in the fall.
"Fifth grade, I remember we came to school and we were getting off the bus and there were news cameras outside the school," says A'leehia White.
White was one of the founding students and is now a senior at Albany High School. Both White and fellow senior Qubilah Sales both remember a very distinct part of their first few days at the school.
"As soon as you enter KIPP in 5th grade, they let you know what year you're going to college," says Sales. "2013 was the year we were going to college. What year are you going to college? 2013. That used to be our chant."
KIPP Tech Valley is highly focused on putting college in the forefront of students' minds, right from the start. Principal Don Applyrs says it doesn't come without hard work from the teachers and students.
Applyrs says many come into KIPP Tech Valley two or three levels below where they should for basic math and english language arts skills.
"We're really proud of the fact that the longer day and the longer school year is really an opportunity to get our kids to a position to really not only be the best in the capital district, but to be prepared for wherever they choose to go on to high school."
On the first day of school, all students sign a commitment to excellence, a commitment White and Sales signed in 2005.
Eight years later they say the KIPP philosophy of "knowledge is power" stayed with them and always will.
"It's hard to believe it's the year 2013 right now, we're going to college in a couple of months," says Sales.
"The work you put into something determines the outcome you're going to get," adds White. "Their doors are always open, you can always come back for help with anything at all."
KIPP Tech Valley will be hosting a special celebratory event for its founding students Saturday from 1-4 p.m.
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