BROOKLYN - A group of determined Brownsville students seized the opportunity for a second chance at education and graduated high school Thursday.

Nearly 50 students from Brooklyn Democracy Academy, commonly called BDA, overcame academic struggles to graduate after they thought they never would.

Students like Casey Smalls had various problems that prevented them from graduating their regular high schools, but they were able to get back on track at the school.

"I wasn't really motivated," Smalls says. "So I came to BDA, and now it's been a big accomplishment."

They received their diplomas in a ceremony at St. Francis College.

Officials say 19 of the 49 graduates will go on to college, and all of the others have jobs lined up.