"I’ll be choosing SUNY Buffalo and I’ll be majoring in speech pathology."
Normally, students at the International Leadership Charter High School in the Bronx would make these kinds of announcements to one another in person. But not much is normal now.
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"It is a little bit upsetting that I don’t get to be with everyone in like physical form, celebrating and spending time with each other and supporting each other and the colleges we picked since we are all going to be all separated for the next four years," student Carla Margarin said. "But I do think the Zoom calls have still given me the opportunity to feel close to everyone."
As instruction has moved online during the coronavirus pandemic, educators are finding ways to take celebrations virtual, too. One by one, students at International Leadership shared their college choice -- to be cheered on by staff at the school. One even doubled as a DJ.
For the kids, it was a time to be proud.
"We have pushed forward through all of these circumstances, so I’m very proud of the Class of 2020 and myself for still being able to graduate, even if it’s not the way we expected," Carla said.
"The college I'll be attending is City College."
Brandon Aquino is the school's valedictorian. He was glad to see his classmates, if only over Zoom, after a jarring end to their high school years.
"Our final year of high school, our last step of childhood is gone now. Like, we can’t celebrate it, we can’t be with the ones that we've really been through the beginning to the end, we have to just be alone -- well, physically alone -- we don’t have them near us to give them our final hugs or our final blessings to have them go pursue their careers," Brandon said.
The end of the year will be even more bittersweet than most graduations, but the school's staff says these students are resilient.
"I think the fact that they are able to get through this horrible, horrible time quite flawlessly is just a good prediction of how the rest of their career is going to go," said Adriana Cameli, the school's college prep director.
Brandon, who wants to study mechanical engineering, thinks so, too.
"We’re going to come out stronger and better and more mentally prepared for what's going to happen in the future."
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