By Reg Chapman

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — For the seventh year in a row, every graduating senior at Cristo Rey High School in Minneapolis has been accepted to college.

The private Catholic school helps students from low-income families succeed.

“I’ve applied as close as the U of M and as far away as Spellman in Atlanta,” Cristo Rey senior Isha Camara said.

Isha applied to 10 colleges and got accepted to all of them. She is one of the 85 seniors at Cristo Rey High School who have been accepted to college.

“Our average student, when they enter, reads at a sixth grade level, does math at a sixth grade level,” school president Jeb Myers said.

Cristo Rey is 99 percent students of color, 90 percent qualify for free or reduced lunch.

Myers says the goal is to get six years of education into four years of high school. Cristo Rey does that by having a longer school day and school year.

“The secret is our students work really hard, our teachers work really hard, our parents work really hard for our students to be successful,” he said.

Myers says corporate partners help by employing students five days per month. Four students share one full time job, allowing students to earn half the cost of their tuition.

Isha works at Children’s Hospital.

“I work in the neonatal care, so with a lot of the preemie babies,” she said.

Isha will take her talents to the University of Wisconsin-Madison on a full ride scholarship this Fall.

“We have 100 percent acceptance rate because everybody knows that’s the goal,” she said.

Isha credits culture at Cristo Rey that helps students succeed, and everyone is dedicated to helping their fellow classmate.

“We are each other’s resources, we are each other’s support,” she said. “And I think when you have that mentality — that you all are reaching for the same goal and you all put your hands in together — you get the result.”

The Minnesota Regional Chamber of Commerce named Cristo Rey nonprofit of the year. It hopes to continue its tradition of getting every student who passes thru it’s door, accepted to college.

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