Get Schooled and the Chainsmokers Celebrate Tulsa School’s Soaring Graduation Rates

by Stuart Winchester, Viacom

Fresh off topping a billion and a half YouTube views of their smash hit Closer, the Chainsmokers used their ever-growing profile to acknowledge something special happening in Tulsa: soaring graduation and college acceptance rates at Webster High School.

In a partnership with Get Schooled, an organization founded through a partnership between Viacom and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the duo crashed senior day at the Oklahoma high school, where 90 percent of a diverse student body is eligible for free or reduced lunch. After dazzling students at an assembly, the band gave every member of the school’s senior class a ticket to their concert that night at Tulsa’s BOK Center.

“We wanted to inspire them to go off and do an art, or whatever it is after this, and if we can be a part of it, that’s great,” the Chainsmokers’ Andrew Taggert told Marty Kasper of News on 6, a local television news show, as he stood alongside bandmate Alex Paul following the assembly.

The Chainsmokers’ Andrew Taggert and Alex Paul address students at Webster High School in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Photo courtesy of Tulsa Public Schools.

Over the course of an ongoing four-year partnership with Diplomas Now, a national organization dedicated to improving retention and graduation rates, Webster’s graduation rate has jumped to over 75 percent from just over 50 percent, while the number of college-bound seniors has risen by 33 percent.

“The Webster High School community, in partnership with Diplomas Now, united the school around a common goal:  improved graduation,” said Get Schooled Executive Director Marie Groark. “Incredibly, they engaged every teacher and student in this work and in doing so have demonstrated to the nation what is possible when schools and partners work together. We are excited to recognize their hard work and success.”

The students seemed thrilled with the encounter. “I’m really excited,” Darius Arney told News on 6’s Kasper. “I can’t believe they’re actually here.” Check out the station’s full report from the school:

NewsOn6.com – Tulsa, OK – News, Weather, Video and Sports – KOTV.com |

Senior Robert Kirk told the Tulsa World’s Arianna Pickard, “I love them. I listen to a lot of alternative rock, and I actually had heard about the concert on The Edge and, I mean, it’s going to be awesome tonight.” He told the paper that he planned to attend the show that evening.

Students at Webster High School in Tulsa, Oklahoma react as the Chainsmokers arrive onstage to congratulate them on rising graduation rates. Photo courtesy of Tulsa Public Schools.

“The Webster community has raised the bar for excellence, and we are incredibly proud of the gains our students have made in the last year,” said Tulsa Public Schools Superintendent Deborah A. Gist, who surprised students by introducing the band after leading a singalong of Closer from the stage. “Every one of these graduates will have expanded opportunities for personal and professional success – receiving a high school diploma is truly life-changing accomplishment.”

Get Schooled regularly shocks students with these sorts of A-list celebrity drop-ins as a reward for academic improvement. Nicki Minaj, James Harden, KeKe Palmer, Nick Cannon, Ne-Yo, Chance the Rapper and Ludacris have all made appearances at different schools in the past. In 2014, Kendrick Lamar visited to Bethel High School in Alaska, a former “drop-out factory” that earned the visit by winning one of Get Schooled’s national points-based competitions:

Earlier this month, Get Schooled took the Social Good Category at the Shorty Awards, beating out 48 other entries with their Major Keys Campaign starring music mogul DJ Khaled. In February, the organization earned a spot on Fast Company’s list of the 10 most innovative companies in gaming.

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