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Star Studies

Celebrities encourage East High students to stay in school.

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Last week, East High School — and education in general — got a celebrity endorsement.

As part of Get Schooled’s National Challenge and Tour, R&B performer Ciara, MTV veejay Quddus, and rising star K. Michelle surprised students with a mini-concert and the message that education matters.

Get Schooled, founded by Viacom and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, aims to increase high school and college graduation rates. Motivated by statistics that show a high school student drops out every 26 seconds, Get Schooled uses stars such as Ludacris and John Legend to get students’ attention. Though the delivery was light-hearted, the agenda was serious. The three entertainers explained how education helped them, even in talent-driven careers.

“If I didn’t have math, I wouldn’t know how to count my money,” Ciara pointed out. She urged the students (to thunderous applause) to set goals for themselves and to work hard to achieve them.

“It would mean so much to me,” she said, “but it would mean so much more to you.”

Native Memphian K. Michelle underlined her experience, telling students that they could become successful if she could. Quddus offered some practical advice. “Go to class,” he said. “It’s the first and easiest thing you can do.”

The students responded to each piece of advice with the same enthusiasm they’d shown when the stars were introduced. And that’s all part of the plan: Once Get Schooled generates interest, students are directed to a webpage where they can watch videos from the show, post pledges and success stories, and find tools for college funding.

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