Following a year of incredible challenge — punctuated by shifts from in-person to virtual learning and back again — more than 700 students at NYC Outward Bound schools across all five boroughs celebrated graduation last week. And thanks to a bout of beautiful weather on Thursday and Friday that allowed for socially distanced, outdoor ceremonies, members of the Class of 2021 were able to receive their diplomas in person!
“You have truly created a community like no other, filled with beyond amazing teachers and staff,” said Divya Ramlagan, valedictorian at The Institute for Health Professions at Cambria Heights (IHPCH), a NYC Outward Bound School in Queens. “To the teachers who endured black screens during Zoom classes, thank you for never giving up on us. Thank you for your constant encouragement, patience, and kindness.”
Navigating Zoom classes was just one of the many challenges the Class of 2021 grappled with over the past two years. Just juniors when the COVID-19 pandemic first hit New York City, these students faced difficult decisions regarding their post-secondary planning and had to celebrate their long-awaited College March virtually instead of in person. Relying on Crewmates took on a new meaning during quarantine when social distancing threatened to isolate many classmates from one another.
“Our legacies will be defined by our relationships,” said Mayerli Gordillo, a graduating senior at Leaders, a NYC Outward Bound School in Brooklyn. “Our job now is to leave those with whom we cross paths a little more hope.”
“Continue to cross barriers to build new Crews in your life,” added Tom Mullen, principal of Leaders. “It’s your turn to become the Crew leader.”
This year’s NYC Outward Bound Schools graduates were accepted into colleges including Franklin and Marshall College, Syracuse University, Pennsylvania State University, University of Wisconsin – Madison, Boston University, St. John’s University, Fairleigh Dickinson College, Pace University, and Washington College, along with the full range of CUNYs and SUNYs.
In addition, NYC Outward Bound middle schools celebrated the graduation of their eighth graders who will be attending high schools across the city next year.
“Our take away from Launch is that life is going to hit us with many challenges, but it’s up to us to stay strong,” said valedictorian Maurice Campbell, a graduating student at Launch, a NYC Outward Bound middle school in Brooklyn. “And is that not the purpose of life? To learn to be ready to encounter any challenges.”
Congratulations, Class of 2021! We wish you many successes and strength in the face of any challenges that come your way. We Are Crew.