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School's threat to cancel prom gets seniors to work harder

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By ANDREA GRYMES, Fox 5 News

NEW YORK (MYFOXNY) -- Graduate or forget about the gowns and tuxes: that was the stern warning at Collegiate Institute for Math and Science in the Bronx. Seniors say the principal told them there'd be no prom unless the entire class graduates.

"It was a scare tactic basically for seniors to get their butts in gear," said Jose Abreu, a senior.

Abreu and fellow seniors call it tough love from the principal.

"A lot of the seniors were slacking," said Roberto Rivera, a senior.

They told Fox 5 many were suffering from a classic case of senioritis, so posters went up at the school that said prom was off unless every senior graduates -- nearly 140 students.

"Some of the kids were upset," Rivera said. "Others were like 'ahhh they're just faking it.'"

They say the threat worked. The seniors worked harder, improved their grades, and this week another poster went up that said prom is on. They also got a flier with details about the big night to take home.

"This only affected us in getting us motivated," said Laura Martinez.

A city Education Department spokesperson said: "The school has high expectations. [The principal] had spoken to students to motivate them to graduate on time and said she would cancel the prom if there is no commitment from students... The prom is not canceled."

Believe it or not, all the seniors we spoke with say the principal did the right thing. Now they're not only looking forward to prom, but also that diploma.

"We the seniors knew we could be doing better than we were doing," said Lala-Marie Perez.

The Education Department said its latest numbers are from the class of 2011 with a graduation rate of about 80 percent, higher than the citywide average of 65 percent.

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