Every student graduating from this Milwaukee school will be the first in their family to attend college

Marisa Peryer:

Established in 2015, the school is part of a nationwide network of 35 Cristo Rey Jesuit schools that predominantly reach students from low-income families. Students spend four days a week at the school, then one day a week at businesses across greater Milwaukee as part of the work-study program. The students are not paid; instead, their “pay” goes to the school to pay down the cost of tuition.

Almost all the students are Hispanic, and almost all attend the school on taxpayer-funded vouchers through the Milwaukee Parental Choice Program. The school continues to grow. Now at 1215 S. 45th St., it soon will double its space as it moves into a vacated Pick ‘n Save store at 1818 W. National Ave.

A few hundred parents, family members and friends gathered in Marquette University’s Church of the Gesu for Friday’s ceremony.

After speeches from salutatorian Wendy Gutierrez-Perez, who will attend College of the Holy Cross in Massachusetts, and from commencement speaker the Rev. John P. Foley, chairman emeritus of Cristo Rey’s board, Vera took to the podium to give her valedictorian address.