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CMS student perseveres past tragedy to graduate on time with 4.0 GPA

Jason Cerrato is the high school senior everyone can't help but love and admire.

HUNTERSVILLE, N.C. — Over the past three years, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools has seen a dip in the number of students graduating on time. 

CMS said several things, like student absenteeism, a lack of social/emotional skills and a change in the rubric, contributed to the decline.

But a monitoring report released earlier in 2022 shows students for whom English is their second language were faring worse than their native-English-speaking peers. At CMS, 65% of English language learners are graduating in four years or fewer. That's better than the national average of 57%, but it's still about 18% behind the average for all students.

One Hopewell High School senior bucked that trend.

Jason Cerrato is a star soccer player, works a part-time job and has a 4.0 GPA.

Credit: Jason Cerrato
Jason Cerrato playing soccer

Not only that, but he emigrated from Honduras, leaving his parents behind, to live with his aunt and uncle. 

He told WCNC Charlotte he liked his elementary school in Honduras, but he realized he would learn English better if he immigrated to America.

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His aunt and uncle gave him that opportunity. 

But two years ago, his father passed away. He talks to his mother every day to keep her company after the tragic loss. 

Credit: Jason Cerrato
Jason Cerrato with his parents

After the passing of his father, Cerrato reached out to his soccer coach and leaned on his extended family for inspiration and support.

"It was challenging, but I always feel that pressure," Cerrato said. "I need to do better, you know, to make them feel proud.”

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Keeping up with his peers was challenging, Cerrato admitted, but one teacher was his advocate.

"I remember being really thankful because she was like another mother to me," Cerrato said. "She was always taking care, asking me how I was doing, helping with homework, like with my college classes, homework. She was always there."

When he walks across the graduation stage in a few weeks, he’ll have a lot of reasons to be proud.

Contact Shamarria Morrison at smorrison@wcnc.com and follow her on FacebookTwitter and Instagram.

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