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On Friday, December 8, 2023, nearly 1,000 seniors from nine NYC Outward Bound schools across all five boroughs marched letters of gratitude — to counselors, mentors, teachers, family and friends — to their local post offices as part of the 13th annual College and Career March, cheered on by fellow students, teachers, family members, local businesses and elected officials.

“The College and Career March is a ritual that shows off all the dedication and the hard work we’ve been doing these past couple of years to get to the point where we are now,” said Evan Kuilan, a senior at West End Secondary School, a NYC Outward Bound school in midtown West, who will be attending Babson College on a Posse Scholarship this fall. “We’re all very proud of the work we’ve done, and today is a celebration for all the seniors.”

While students no longer mail their college applications at the event, as they did in the early years of the March, the December date continues to serve as motivation for meeting college application deadlines and to sharpen their postsecondary plans.

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“I’ve been at Channel View since 6th grade, and I’ve seen the College March every year since then,” said Mia Heera, a senior at Channel View, a NYC Outward Bound school in Rockaway Park, who plans to study pediatric nursing in college. “To finally experience it was unreal! It felt relieving in a way to celebrate as a senior, knowing that my applications have been submitted.” 

Taking part in a special Channel View tradition, Mia mailed a letter of encouragement to a “future 9th grader” to help inspire the next class of students to put in the effort to pursue their dreams. The letters will be given out to next year’s freshmen.

“Today is a reminder that with perseverance and support, all our students can graduate with a high-quality plan and go on to lead fulfilling, purposeful and economically secure lives,” said Vanessa Rodriguez, CEO of NYC Outward Bound Schools. “Also, we reimagined the name and purpose of the event this year to better align with the changing postsecondary landscape and celebrate all of the pathways that our students choose.”

Recognized by President Barack Obama in his 2014 State of the Union address, the College March began in 2011 at the NYC Outward Bound school WHEELS, and by 2012 had spread throughout NYC Outward Bound’s network of New York City public schools. By 2014, several schools from the national EL Education network and the North Texas-based Uplift Education network had joined the March, which is open to any high school interested in participating. To help others to replicate the practice, NYC Outward Bound Schools created a set of open source resources

“There is a notion and constant desire to make sure everyone is heard, valued and known at this school,” said Isaiah Harrison, a senior at Brooklyn Collaborative, a NYC Outward Bound school in Carroll Gardens. “And now being a senior, and being able to attend this College March, I feel that in abundance.”

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