BUFFALO - Gabe Guevera wants to either make video games or become a priest.
He can choose whichever career path he wants, no matter how different they may be. After all, as of Thursday, he holds a diploma from South Park High School.
"I just want to help people. I know some people you can't help, but that's what I've always wanted to do," Guevera said.
So he'll do that by either creating people's video games or becoming their preist. Or maybe he'll do something else. Point is, Guevera can do it, because he's one of the ones who made it. No matter what the statistics say -- and they say that the majority of students in the Buffalo Public Schools don't graduate and fewer than 10 percent are "college-ready" -- Guevera is a success story.
These are the children you're not hearing about.
"You can get consumed by the numbers," said Theresa Schuta, the principal at South Park High School. "But as I see these kids walk across the stage, I remember when their mom walked them into Kindergarten. So I know that we've made a difference. And that's what it's all about."
Moments before walking into the auditorium, David Rivera and Damaris Gonzalez gathered with their families for one last photo opportunity. Rivera is joining the Navy. Gonzalez is going to college to pursue a criminal justice degree. They're here for a reason-- because of family support, and, as Gonzalez puts it, because of "faith and love."
As for the ones who didn't walk across the stage?
"They didn't have the drive," Rivera said, "or the motivation to move forward."
These are the problems educators will tackle over the next several months, years and decades. They will be forced to confront alarming dropout rates. They will be forced to find solutions to revitalize a struggling school system.
But the kids in that auditorium on Thursday aren't the problem.
They're the ones graduating.
"It's a great day," Schuta said. "Better than Christmas."