LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Minority males drop out of school at a higher rate and are often among the lowest performing students in Jefferson County Public Schools. But Wednesday night a few hundred students got special recognition for their grades of a "B" average and above.

"I didn't expect this so when I got the notice I was proud of it," said Central High School senior Ramon Batista.

Batista hopes to become a surgeon. He's one of roughly 300 students invited to Louisville Memorial Auditorium Wednesday night. His family came to the U.S. 10 years ago from Cuba.

"Well the AP classes were certainly a struggle, advanced classes and honors,” said Batista. “But I mean you just have to work through it and try your best and never give up."

That determination was recognized by JCPS in its first ever “Males of Color” celebration.

The school system joins 59 other large metropolitan school districts pledging to help “males of color” succeed -- including African Americans, Hispanics and other minorities.

JCPS data shows they're more likely to drop out of school, get suspended or not graduate compared to their white peers.

"The data is not where we want it to be, and the status quo is not acceptable so when you look at the data we have room for improvement," said JCPS Superintendent Dr. Donna Hargens.

Out of all graduating seniors in JCPS this year, 1,588 are white men. About 31%, or 493, are expected to graduate with a 3.0 GPA or higher.

JCPS also has 1,379 graduates who are “males of color”. Only 298 of them, or about 22%, are set to graduate with a GPA of 3.0 or higher.

The numbers do not include three high schools because they have yet to calculate their GPAs.

“Right now it's at 3.34 I think," said Southern High School senior Ledarius Johnson who wants to become a pastor.

"Actually, an honor to see a lot of black males from all over the JCPS district to come together and be honored for what we've done," said Johnson.

"I am overwhelmed with joy," said his mother Gaynell Harris. She says the recognition also helps others who might be struggling.

"That teaches somebody else encouragement to do better, to want to do better. They don't have to be out on the streets, selling drugs, or getting in trouble or getting locked up or go to left,” said Harris. “It's a positive, like he did this -- I can too.”


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