More than 2,000 seniors — from 28 high schools nationwide, including nine NYC Outward Bound Schools across all five boroughs in New York City — joined in a virtual celebration of the College March on Friday, December 11.
This year marked the 10th anniversary of the College March, a tradition which began at WHEELS. It was also the largest College March to date, with participants joining virtually from 14 different cities. Many seniors who celebrated the College March are the first in their families to apply to college. The virtual gathering focused on the resilience, community and hard work of this year’s seniors who were forced to begin the college application process in unprecedented circumstances during the pandemic.
“By pushing past studying in a pandemic, and overcoming the obstacles some of you may have faced at home – you take charge of your story, your success, and now you can start writing your own narrative,” said speaker Luis Hernandez, a 2013 graduate of Brooklyn Collaborative, whose own College March took place just after another national crisis — Hurricane Sandy.
This year’s College March speakers included NBA legend John Starks, who offered his words of encouragement to the Class of 2021; Maleka Stewart, a 2015 graduate of Channel View; Luis Hernandez, a 2013 graduate of Brooklyn Collaborative; Jenny Rodriguez, founder of the College March and former Assistant Principal at WHEELS; and Konrad Schwarz, Capital One Bank Executive and NYC Outward Bound Schools Board Member. The program also included a heartfelt musical tribute to the Class of 2021 — a rendition of Prince Royce’s Stand by Me, created by underclassmen from across the network.
“I have been waiting for this day since I was 11 years old,” said Haily Rosario, a senior at WHEELS. “Ever since the 6th grade, I have seen the WHEELS seniors celebrate their accomplishments together on this special day. Today is finally my turn. Today, I am celebrating my accomplishments as well as those of my peers, and how much we have all grown together. I am reminded of every moment of failure and success that has led us here, and I am immensely grateful.”
Next year, Haily will be attending the University of Pennsylvania on a full, four-year Questbridge Scholarship.
Recognized by President Barack Obama in his 2014 State of the Union address, the College March began 10 years ago at WHEELS, and by 2012 had spread throughout NYC Outward Bound’s network of New York City public schools. Capital One Bank has sponsored and provided volunteer support for the College March since its inception, and the U.S. Postal Service has been a key partner as well. Today, the College March has grown to include many schools from the national EL Education network and the North Texas-based Uplift Education network. The annual event is also recognized by many NYC public officials.
“[Our students] are the next engineers that will be building affordable housing. They are the next doctors that will be curing us. They are our next elected officials,” said Ydanis Rodriguez, Councilman for NYC’s 10th District. “They are our leaders.”
“[Our students] have done such incredible work to get here!” added Mark Treyger, Councilmember for NYC’s 47th District and Chair of Committee on Education. “I have been so impressed…and know that [they] are going to continue doing great things, in college and beyond.”
2020 College March by the Numbers
NYC Outward Bound Schools
“Taking the shot” is what the College March celebrates. Whether it’s applying to that college you think is a longshot or making a plan to attend a vocational program or applying for a job that feels like a stretch, go for it!”