The Chicago Public Schools class of 2022, like all of the nation’s high school graduates, has spent most of their high school experience navigating the pandemic. In addition to the challenges of remote learning, families impacted by COVID-19, and interruptions to their social lives, the students of Chicago Public Schools had to contend with contention between the Chicago Teachers Union and the administration.

Isabela vila Ros said that high school is not easy. It looked like it was never going to end at one point. I am two days post-graduation and I realize it is all over. It is all behind me.

High school was more than a stop on the way to adulthood for the class of 2022, which included Isabela vila Ros. It was the place where they found support.

Diego said that there are teachers who care about the students and that he has had experiences with teachers who cared for him. I ponder on that a lot.

It was where they found new interests and talents.

Schurz High School graduate Andre Pedroza said, “You have multiple different types of outlets in which you can show your creative expression and that’s where I feel like CPS does a good job.” I wouldn’t know much about music if it wasn’t for that.

They learned more about themselves and who they want to be there.

When I arrived at Schurz, I wanted to major in business, but I didn’t find anything that caught my attention. The Schurz High School graduate said that he was more of a hands on thinker.

vila Ros said that the Coalition of Advocates for Undocumented Students’ Education was created after he started his activism work.

The graduates say the Pandemic touched every aspect of their school life.

The last couple of years, it was rough with the online school, it wasn’t the best. Sometimes I had trouble with the internet connection, as some ideas don’t translate well through computers.

He said that there were changes to his well-being.

I felt a little less connected after the shutdown. I became a little more withdrawn. He said that he is trying to get past it.

Pedroza had difficulty with remote learning.

I would say that it reduced my work ethic. Pedroza said that sometimes he wouldn’t want to do assignments because he wouldn’t have the motivation. The administration introduced something called the 50% rule. That was when teachers were not allowed to fail students’ assignments. I feel like the 50% rule affects students in this school more than any other rule.

The student athletes were disappointed by the interruptions.

Since freshman year, I have been playing sports. The end of my volleyball season was when my mom caught Covid. My volleyball season was cut short due to that. She said she was really sad about that. I wanted to try out soccer for my junior year but it wasn’t possible because my dad was sick and I had to stay away from school for a month.

vila Ros said that even returing to in-person school had some bumps.

Since our schools weren’t prepared for that either, things were so much harder with teachers having to change the way they grade or accept work.

They all report that they are ready for the challenges that lie ahead now that their time in the program is over.

In the fall, she will study criminal justice at Illinois State University.

I am really excited. I have to think about it a lot because I am moving away, I am going to be living on campus, but I see it as a way of making myself more independent.

Pedroza is studying computer science at Harold Washington College.

Pedroza said he would like to have a career with computer science, programming, and video games.

Isabela vila Ros is going to major in political science at the University of Chicago after working with the National Equity Project.

vila Ros said that he found his view of the city to be more open. I know a lot more from meeting people from all over the world.

Diego has been accepted into the pre-health pre-science program at the University of Illinois at Chicago, where he will study medicine. The high school was one of the recipients of full scholarships from the nonprofit organization Hope Chicago, an event the student said was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

Making sure I have everything I need to be done is my main concern, as I will have to figure out more things on my own. I am ecstatic.