In a re-vamped theater, the message was about a city's current revival through education.

The main messenger used himself as an example.

Former President Bill Clinton Thursday night told 37 graduating New Orleans high school seniors he was the first member of his family to graduate college and that he loves their city.

Mr. Clinton was the keynote speaker at the Joy Theater Downtown as the Urban League's College Track Program honored the group.

A National non-profit, College Track helps guide kids from at-risk areas to four-year colleges and beyond, working with students across the country, including 150-plus in New Orleans.

All 37 seniors at the Joy Theater were accepted to college despite steep life challenges.

New Orleans Saints cornerback Malcolm Jenkins helped students turn the corner as he announced the 10 recipients of a scholarship he's sponsoring.

But the event wasn't about big names, political photo ops or even keynote speeches.

It's about the success of soon-to-be college students.

Mr. Clinton praised the graduates, crediting them with being what's needed for an educational system on the mend.

"New Orleans is coming back in no small measure because of education improvements and you're exhibit A."