Record 82 Foster Kids Graduate from High Schools in Ohio's Hamilton County

"I had to do it on my own ... not having, like, a big family behind me for support," student Emily Day said

<p>WCPO 9/YouTube</p> Record 82 Foster Kids Graduate from Ohio

WCPO 9/YouTube

Record 82 Foster Kids Graduate from Ohio's Hamilton County Schools

The 2024 graduation season has a special meaning to 82 foster children, who all set a record for graduating from local high schools in Ohio.

The Hamilton County Job & Family Services is taking time out to honor 82 foster kids who graduated from a variety of schools in the Hamilton County, such as Oak Hills High School and Dohn Community High School.

The organization announced the news on Thursday, June 6 via X (formerly known as Twitter), posting, "Yesterday we hosted our 25th annual Celebration of Dreams ceremony. 82 graduates walked the red carpet surrounded by friends & family, the most ever in program history!"

On Instagram, the Hamilton County Job & Family Services added, "We want to thank everyone who attended this amazing event, as well as the staff, volunteers, and supporters who helped each child achieve their goal of graduating high school."

Related: Single Dad Who Has Fostered 36 Kids Adopts 2 Siblings! ‘I Can Be Their Forever Home’ (Exclusive)

One of the 2024 graduates, Alana Johnson, is leaving Dohn Community High School and headed to UC Blue Ash College, NBC affiliate WLWT reported. "I want to study social work because joining the system, I didn't have such a great social worker. My first social worker didn't do their job correctly and they sent me back to the house of abuse," Johnson told the outlet of her post-high school plans.

"I'm going to make sure that I'm one of those people that can advocate a little bit better than most social workers for the child in need," she continued, adding, "Not everyone has supportive parents, supportive people in our lives and throughout the system. We do grow and we find supportive people and supportive people find us."

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Representatives from the Hamilton County School District and the Hamilton County Job & Family Services did not immediately respond to PEOPLE’s request for comment.

Another graduate, Emily Day, who received her high school diploma from Oak Hills High School a year early and plans to attend the University of Cincinnati, shared her journey to graduation while in the foster care system in an interview with ABC affiliate WCPO. "I had to do it on my own ... not having, like, a big family behind me for support. It's been me," she said.

Related: Kindergarteners Team Up with Class of 2024 High Schoolers to Create Emotional Graduation Video: Watch

While speaking about foster kids who need the help and support of their community, she added, "These kids are coming from places where they are beaten and battered and they don't have anyone who cares. They just need somebody to love them."

Speaking with WLWT, Hamilton County Job & Family Services Director Michael Patton said, “We want the community to know how hard these graduates have worked and how well they’ve done. They are truly remarkable.”

There are currently an estimated 1,900 children in the Hamilton County foster care system.

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