Vinnie Hurst, Urban Assembly Climate Culture & Community Program Manager
To all of our school support staff, teachers, college and guidance counselors, and to our 23 Amazing Principals — thank you! In 2020–21, UA schools served almost 9,000 students across New York City. You all are amazing.
Despite the numerous challenges that came with learning in a pandemic, we came together as a UA community and we have found positive, creative ways to help students navigate learning. You encouraged students to dig deep down and reflect on the events such as the George Floyd protests and the coronavirus pandemic. You supported them in exploring how such events affected them on a personal level and how to cope with stress, and in so many cases, thrive in spite of circumstances. You helped our students find the will to strive forward.
I could not hold back tears at the graduation ceremonies that I attended. It touched all of my senses and my adrenaline was at an all-time high as I watched the graduates savor the happiness of their hard work paying off. They’ve been through a lot and they worked hard for this moment. You helped them get to this point.
Among the families present, there was a sense of joy in seeing their loved ones celebrate in this monumental moment- and there was deep appreciation for the school staff that helped them get to this point.
During the Urban Assembly New York Harbor graduation, Principal Jeff Chtriko exclaimed, “There is no better feeling than getting to experience the joy of your students at graduation.” And that was evident. The celebration of school staff across the board was beautiful to see.
The UA’s vision states, “Through rigorous academic programming and a deep commitment to equity and social justice, UA schools will graduate well-prepared, caring, informed citizens who have the individualized supports and guidance they need to maximize their potential and succeed in their post-secondary academic and career paths.” I believe that this has been accomplished because of each and every one of you. You all have worked so hard this year and we are truly grateful for you.