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OKOLONA, Miss. (WCBI) — Family and friends took the streets to celebrate Okolona High School’s 2014 graduating class.

Over 50 Okolona Seniors parade down main street in honor of their 12-years of hard work.

But they’re celebrating more than academics.

The Okolona Dollars for Scholars program has helped the 2014 high school graduates to not only prepare for college but to pay for it.

“They sold doughnuts. You name it they’ve done it and they deserve it. It’s the first time in Mississippi’s history that this has happened and you couldn’t pick a better group of students for it to happen to,” says John Standfield.

Through grants, the non-profit organization is able to pay for four years of college for the high school seniors. However, it’s the student’s hard work and community service that earned them a future education.

“Well I think the biggest thing is just community service. These kids right now are self-reliant because they are putting themselves through school their books are paid for because they paid for them and the virtue they have right now is just self confidence built off of self-reliance,” says Stanfield.

Valedictorian, Ashley Gates, says the program not only helped her future but how to be a voice among her peers.

“It taught me how to be a leader and become more involved in a community and actually listen to the needs of the other students it taught me and helped me mature and have a voice,” says Ashley Gates.

Xavier White believes most schools honor their senior’s accomplishments but says this parade allows the community to see the full impact of the program.

“I mean like you see other schools and other states that do a lot for their seniors and so I think this just opens the door of opportunity for more things to be approach by the Okolona School Board,” says Xavier White.

The Dollars for Scholars organization was established in 2005.

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