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Say Yes to Education, Syracuse officials report on program’s success in city schools

(From left) Kristi Eck, assistant to the operating director and higher education program specialist at Syracuse Say Yes, introduces Yannis Gilbert, a student at Bellevue elementary school, to discuss the book she helped write through Say Yes' Young Authors Series.

(From left) Kristi Eck, assistant to the operating director and higher education program specialist at Syracuse Say Yes, introduces Yannis Gilbert, a student at Bellevue elementary school, to discuss the book she helped write through Say Yes' Young Authors Series. Photo by Stephanie Bouvia.

Hope.

That was the word emphasized and reiterated time and time again at the Say Yes to Education press conference held at McKinley-Brighton Elementary School this morning.

Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Miner, Syracuse City School District Superintendent Sharon Contreras and Say Yes to Education Founder George Weiss stressed the need for children to have hope in order to develop and grow.

Say Yes to Education officials held the press conference to update residents on the progress of its program, which was implemented in Syracuse in 2009. Officials also presented four children’s books that were written by SCSD students through Say Yes’ Young Authors Series, supported by the National Grid Foundation.

“In your eyes, I see hope. I see promise, I see leadership, I see tenacity, I see strength, and most importantly, I see our future,” said National Grid Foundation Board member Melanie Littlejohn to the many students in attendance.

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Syracuse City School District Superintendent Sharon Contreras discusses the benefit of the Syracuse Say Yes to Education program.

Littlejohn announced that National Grid will be giving $30,000 to the Say Yes Young Authors Series, in order to produce five additional books.

Weiss presented the Syracuse program’s “report card,” and described how Say Yes has affected students in the city school district. Syracuse is the first city to fully implement the Say Yes model across its entire school district.

Weiss said the number of students who dropped out of high school in the district decreased by 44.3 percent since last year; the number of ninth-grade students who passed the New York State algebra regents exam increased by 31 percent; and the number of students who are graduating from the district’s high schools increased by 6 percent since last year.

“This is a model … that has really created great excitement,” Weiss said, addressing those involved in the Say Yes program. “You really should be proud of the great job that you guys have done. It’s been absolutely phenomenal.”

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