HOUSTON – A couple dozen students about to graduate high school made an appearance today in Judge Katrina Griffith's court.
However, unlike most courtrooms, this one was filled with nothing but smiles.
This is the first-ever graduation party for the Child Protective Services Project Court. In other words, all of these students are foster kids.
Keynote speaker Xilena Ingram, better known as Ciara, has been where they are.
“I know they're like, 'Wooo I'm done.' Like, 'Oh my God this feels good,'” she says.
One year ago, she to graduated high school after entering the foster program at the age of 13.
“My mother was on drugs and we was having difficulty with school, me and my brother who went to middle school," Ciara says.
But this is not a story to be sad about.
“I'm very grateful that I went through that,” Ciara says.
Now, she gets to join the rest of the CPS court staff to let her peers know they have succeeded and their future is bright.
“We want to make sure that we are celebrating these kids and letting them know that we recognize the hard work that they put in,” says Griffith, an associate judge.
“You have to overcome so many things, whether it's just you or whatever you want to deal with, and I just want them to be so strong and know that they have such a strong support system,” Ciara says.
Among today's graduates are students whose plans include becoming a chef, a lawyer, and even a special effects makeup artist. While there is still quite a bit of work in front of them, these kids who have overcome so much deserve some time to simply celebrate.