Class of 2020

This year’s high school seniors, the Class of 2020, are having a totally different senior year than what they expected. Inga Cotton spoke with Adina Ichilov, valedictorian of Brooks Collegiate Academy, and her father, Nehemia Ichilov, director of Holocaust Memorial Museum San Antonio, about her experience with virtual learning and how she and her classmates are adapting to the world of social distancing.

One of the things that Adina liked best about Brooks Collegiate was the fact that she could take a lot of dual credit classes. She has earned 22 credit hours towards college already. Before March, she had time blocked out on her schedule to do online classes through San Antonio Academy. The fact that she had already experienced virtual learning meant that, once the campus closed, she had a fairly smooth transition academically. As we discussed with Andrea Sabatino, Brooks offers Zoom classes on Tuesdays and Thursdays, so students stay connected with their teachers and fellow students.

Adina was sad when her senior trip—a camping weekend—got cancelled. It was supposed to happen in mid-March, right after the campus closure was announced. She and her friends connected over Facetime instead. Nammie observed that, for years, Adina’s generation has been criticized for having so much of their social interaction online. Now, they are way ahead of us: they have the skills and tools to stay in touch even while they are physically separated. The younger generation has a lot to teach us!

Adina’s class is the first group of seniors to graduate from Brooks Collegiate. They were organizing a Junior Senior Prom; that is on hold, but may take place later this summer.

To celebrate the seniors, Brooks Collegiate organized a graduation caravan. A school bus and a line of cars visited each senior, brought a yard sign and goodies, and took front porch pictures. Nammie said it’s an event that his family, and his neighborhood, will remember for a long time.

Adina and her classmates will experience an outdoor graduation ceremony. She is excited to be able to walk the stage. Families will sit in the bleachers with space between them and their neighbors. Note: if your school is still looking for an outdoor graduation venue, reach out to Superintendent Lisa Schutz.

This summer, Adina has an internship with H-E-B, and it’s still on—just virtual. Her orientation for The University of Texas at Austin (McCombs School) will be virtual, and she’s waiting to hear in June if classes will be online or on campus.

Adina is an amazingly resilient young woman. She and her classmates are experiencing a tremendous upheaval, but are handling it with grace and will be stronger for it. Her advice is to “Live every day to the fullest”—she never thought she would say this, and her dad never thought she would hear it, but she misses being able to go to school every day. Nammie says that change is constant now, and we all need to adapt to what will be a different world for some time to come.

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