It’s been a long and often bumpy road, but for the first graduating class of Austin Business and Entrepreneurship Academy, but the seniors and school officials say it’s been worth the four-year wait.

On May 21, the Austin school celebrated its first graduating class with a senior luncheon at the Chicago Marriott. The crowd of students, parents and guests were full of smiles as the seniors were honored for their hard work and achievement.

Principal Karen Washington said 114 out of the 116 seniors will graduate, and of those students, 94 will attend colleges across the nation

The students came in as freshman in 2006, when the school opened at the former Austin High School at 231 N. Pine. Two other schools-Austin Polytechnical Academy and VOISE Academy High School, share the building.

When the school opened, the students were young, immature and had a long way to go and a lot of growing up to do,” said Washington.

“The transformation didn’t happen overnight; it has been a long, and for some students very difficult road. But we banded together, and the students learned to believe in themselves and their capabilities in the classroom.”

The senior prom is scheduled for Friday May 28 and commencement is on June 14 at Dominican University.