New York City high school celebrates nearly 90 percent graduation rate

WASHINGTON HEIGHTS, Manhattan (WABC) -- A special virtual ceremony was held for an impressive graduation class at a high school in Washington Heights on Thursday.

Yadelis Avila envisioned herself graduating high school in her cap and gown, clutching flowers in one arm and her mom and little sister in the other.

It's how most high school seniors see themselves when they graduate.

"What I envisioned was that me and my friends would be together, my family as well. And I envisioned my teacher telling me congratulations and my principal as well shaking my hand," Avila said.

Except this year, that's not how graduations look.

But Avila likes to look at the glass half full.

"A mix of emotions definitely," Avila said. "A little bit of sadness but a lot of joy and happiness."

Avila is part of the graduating class at The Community Health Academy of the Heights, where they're approaching a nearly 90 percent graduation rate.

Compare that to a city-wide graduation rate of about 76 percent in 2019.

The school held its virtual graduation on Thursday, and it was pretty awesome.

It was a special graduation for a special class, comprised by a majority of low-income Latino and Black students from Brooklyn, the Bronx and Washington Heights.

Many of these students are now set to achieve the American dream of becoming the first in their families to attend college.

As for Avila, she's received a nearly $75,000 scholarship to attend Pratt Institute.

Her goal is to become a screenwriter.

"I wanna write stories and write characters I can relate to and people as well as being a children of immigrant parents," Avila said.

She can paint too. When she was in the 7th grade, she helped create a mural outside her school.

It was meant to represent people of different ages and backgrounds together, in a safe space.

"Despite our differences we are still a community."

It looks like she's already written her first story.

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