8:40am

Wed August 21, 2013
Obama visit to Syracuse

Syracuse schools superintendent discusses Obama visit

Syracuse City School District Superintendent Sharon Contreras said the district is assisting the White House and Secret Service as they prepare for the arrival of President Obama at Henninger High School on Thursday.

Though Contreras wouldn't specifically say why Henninger High School was chosen as the location for President Obama to speak, she did say the Syracuse City School District's "Say Yes to Education" program would fit in perfectly with the president's speech on college access.

"Having those programs actually motivates students to stay in high school and with appropriate time and funding and partnerships we can expand them and see graduation rates soar," Contreras said.

Contreras explained that "Say Yes to Education," which provides students who meet the requirements free tuition to almost 100 public and private higher education institutions, motivates students to stay in school.

"Those students actually have a higher graduation rate than students who are not in those programs. If we had more funding we could expand those programs more quickly throughout the district," Contreras said.

The superintendent shared the Say Yes framework with the White House and thinks it could be adopted by districts across the country.  

"Many of our students graduate with college credits before going to college, so they don't have to spend as much money," Contreras said.

She also hopes the president's visit will inspire students.

"It's just a reminder about how important college is and how important school is," Contreras said. "I think it's a great start to the school year."

Although tickets to the event were handed out yesterday afternoon, another several hundred tickets were given to Contreras by the White House so juniors and seniors from across the city school district could attend.

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