BALTIMORE (WJZ) — A local city high school is celebrating after one of its graduates got special recognition from President Barack Obama on Sunday.

Mary Bubala has more.

During President Obama’s commencement speech at Morehouse College in Atlanta, he surprised Baltimore native Leland Shelton by telling his inspirational story.

“When Leland Shelton was four years old, Social Services took him away from his mother and put him in the care of his grandparents. By age 14, he was in the foster care system and today, he is graduating Phy Beta Kappa on his way to Harvard Law School,” Obama said.

It’s a proud moment at Baltimore City College, where Shelton was class president and graduated with honors in 2009.

“His critical thinking skills were exemplary,” said Phil Stephenson, a teacher at Baltimore City College.

Monday, Shelton’s former teachers and coach say they weren’t surprised President Obama chose to single out Shelton for his success in the face of adversity.

“He never missed practice for anything. He could keep up with schoolwork, came to practices, all our matches. He worked a lot,” said City College wrestling coach John Sarintinos.

“He never made excuses and he just did what he had to do, whatever the job was in front of him. He’s going to be great at whatever he does,” said AP English teacher Martha Armenti.

We spoke with Shelton from Atlanta. He said after Harvard Law, he’s coming back to Baltimore to be an advocate for foster children.

“I see Baltimore as a city with a great future because if a kid like me can do what I’ve done and plan to do, I know plenty of other kids in Baltimore can do the same thing,” he said.

City College says giving back to Baltimore is instilled in their curriculum. So many of their graduates have become great leaders here, so big things are expected from Leland Shelton.

Shelton also made the front page of Monday’s New York Times. He’s expected to be back in Baltimore soon.


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