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The sun shined brightly upon more than 1,000 NYC high school seniors participating in Friday’s 12th annual College March. The annual tradition, started by the NYC Outward Bound Schools network, celebrates the perseverance of students and the support systems that help them prepare for postsecondary success.

Students at all 11 Network High Schools — and across the country at several EL Education and Uplift network high schools — paraded through their neighborhoods toward post offices and mailboxes as families, classmates and community members cheered them on with homemade signs. Many students mailed thank you letters to friends, family members, counselors and coaches who supported them during the college application process.

“I mailed my letter to my college counselor and my Crew teacher, as they have supported me the most throughout high school,” said Yelnur Abdushev, a 12th grader at West End Secondary School, a NYC Outward Bound School in Midtown West. “I felt empowered and celebrated at the College March.”

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“The College March felt bittersweet because I have been taking part in it since I was in 6th grade!” added Keliah Norwood, a 12th grader at Gaynor McCown, a NYC Outward Bound School on Staten Island. “It was very emotional because everyone from the middle school (MAELS) and high school were there cheering us on.”


The College March promotes NYC Outward Bound’s vision for educational equity — the idea that, with the right supports, every student can graduate well-prepared to pursue college as an accessible option, regardless of background or circumstance.

Several elected officials joined the celebrations at schools, including Senator Robert Jackson and Council Member Carmen De La Rosa at WHEELS in Washington Heights; Queens Borough President Donovan Richards and Council Member Joann Ariola at Channel View in Far Rockaway; Staten Island Borough President Vito FosellaAssemblyman Mike Tannousis, and Commanding Officer of the NYPD’s 121st Precinct Eric Waldhelm at Gaynor McCown; and Assemblywoman Monique Chandler-Waterman at Kurt Hahn in East Flatbush.

“The seniors who marched today were just freshmen when the pandemic hit, so it felt really joyful to be able to celebrate their perseverance and honor their dreams for the future,” said Vanessa Rodriguez, CEO of NYC Outward Bound Schools. 

“In a few short months we’ll be starting a brand new chapter in our lives, said Emmanuel Guzman, a 12th grader at WHEELS, who spoke to his classmates at the College March. This didn’t happen overnight. This wasn’t a road without bumps. But despite how hard the journey was, we got through it. I’m so proud of every single person here because we’ve all made sacrifices to get where we want to be in life. This is our day, this is our College March!

We are grateful to our College March partner Capital One Bank, who has been supporting this event since 2011. From employee involvement, to strategic advisement and financial support, Capital One has been a true partner in implementing and growing the College March.

See media clips from the College March:

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