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By Malala, Senior at The James Baldwin School, a NYC Outward Bound School

Imagine a day where your whole school is cheering you on in a event symbolizing your entrance into adulthood. Sounds unconventional, yet inspiring.

I go to The James Baldwin School. Seniors at James Baldwin are of all ages and come from different backgrounds. And yet we have one thing in common: the desire to graduate.

Each December, the whole school comes together to celebrate our futures during the annual NYC Outward Bound Schools College March. As a school, we parade with our seniors to the nearest post office where they mail their college applications.

Malala, leading her College March

The first College March I attended was a huge event. I was a junior, and I made posters that read “Congratulations Seniors” as I wore my College March t-shirt and cheered in support of our Baldwin seniors. Along with the rest of the school, I stood along the street as the seniors marched by. I screamed and cheered, and raised my signs congratulating the seniors; I was so excited for those seniors to begin a new chapter of their lives. The path to seniority can be long battle, and the College March supports the journey. At many transfer schools, students need six years to graduate, which means that some students have waited so long to graduate. The College March is a celebration that honors their struggle and the ways they triumph.

On December 15th, I will be marching as a senior in the College March. I’m excited to experience the love and enthusiasm I know my classmates will have on the day that celebrates me and ​my fellow seniors, and my journey to college. As I march to my local post office with my whole school behind me, I will remember the days I spent alone, learning from a computer while home-schooled before I came to James Baldwin, and then the support and encouragement I got once I enrolled here. I will remember to be grateful for a community that supports me. As I hear my classmates, teachers, and staff cheering my name I will remember to stay focused and continue my path to graduation.

The College March celebrates our teachers, for all the early morning and afterschool meetings with students to help them with assignments. The College March celebrates the parents who sacrifice so much for their child to succeed. But most of all, the College March celebrates me and the other seniors, who have made it this far. The College march is a grand celebration where everyone can feel special.

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