In Detroit, people are represented by two separate yet equally important groups. Those who graduated from Cass Technical High School and those who didn’t. These are their stories.

Cass Technical High School, more commonly referred to as Cass Tech, is a Detroit landmark and cultural hub, having graduated many students who’ve gone on to achieve greatness. Some of its notable alums include Diana Ross, Big Sean, Chanté Adams, Nicco Annan, Melissa Butler and more. With an ensemble of successful alums across various professional fields and a 96% graduation rate, one could argue that the high school breeds success.

However, such an assumption isn’t shared by everyone. In 2011, when the school’s football team became the first in its district to win the state’s Division I championship, an anonymous letter was sent to the team’s former football coach, Thomas Wilcher. The contents? A poorly constructed amalgamation of racist microaggressions and stereotypes centered around the author’s disdain for Black students displaying Black excellence.

While this incident occurred in the latter half of 2011, it should be noted that the school year of 2011-2012 was the senior year of Cass Tech’s graduating class of 2012. As the class celebrates their 10-year reunion this year, Blavity News caught up with some of its alums and a former instructor to reflect on how they’ve surpassed such stereotypes and beat the odds.