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Cristo Rey High Celebrates First Graduating Class

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BALTIMORE (WJZ) — From the first day of school, students at Cristo Rey Jesuit High School take on an internship with Baltimore businesses.

Gigi Barnett reports this month the school is celebrating its first graduating class.

High school is almost over for Tawshawnae Pressley. Since the 10th-grade,  she’s worked at Mercy Medical Center.

Interning is a required part of the curriculum at Cristo Rey High School.

Now, Pressley is in the Jesuit Catholic School’s first graduating class.

“Being the first graduating class at Cristo Rey, we have to set all of the traditions and we are the leaders,” said Pressley.

That’s exactly what the school wanted. Back in 2007, when Cristo Rey opened, it partnered with Baltimore businesses to give all students a weekly internship.

School leaders believe the work teaches leadership that students can’t learn in a classroom.

“At school, you may be able to play around and giggle and be with your friends, but at work, it’s that whole professional level. You have to be on your Ps and Qs,” said one student.

The curriculum is why Mercy and 81 other businesses quickly signed on.

“They get a glimpse of the kind of jobs that will be available to them when they graduate from college. And they already have a head start on the kinds of behaviors they need to demonstrate in the workplace to be successful,” said Janet Shock, Cristo Rey Internship Director.

Mercy has the most number of Cristo Rey teens working. There is a grand total of 16 students. The hospital says it will closely track those students after college graduation in hopes that they’ll return.

“They’re not only getting college preparatory work skills, they’re learning how to act like adults and interact with other adults. And we want them to come back and work for us,” said Sr. Helen Amos, Mercy Medical Center.

It’s a home-grown workforce that’s soon to graduate.

The school’s first graduation is on June 18.

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