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17 Strong; Class of 2020

Congratulations to our Class of 2020. Many of these seniors were born during the 2001-2002 school year with the tragedy of 9-11 reshaping our country, and, soon they will graduate having navigated a “new normal” resulting from COVID-19. This historic time for these students is mixed with some despair but also great determination as they work to develop solutions to mitigate the negative effects of this pandemic, prepare to graduate, and matriculate onto leading colleges.

Even though our seniors miss being on campus celebrating their iconic last chapter of high school with their peers, they have each seized an incredible opportunity to make a positive impact via Cushman’s unique Society and Me (SAM) curriculum. Never has our SAM programming seemed more relevant since this work challenges students to identify a global issue to which each student independently develops local solutions. In the past few months, this Class of 2020 cohesively chose to replace a previously selected initiative and address one of the five projects below in immediate response to COVID-19:

1. Digital Library
 – Record reading aloud pre-approved children’s books for students at home. The nonprofit Achieve Miami uploads the videos and makes them available to low-income, elementary school students throughout Miami Dade County.

2. Local Restaurant Support/Food Delivery to Front Line Medical Workers and Families in Need
 – Following a student-driven fundraising campaign, that revenue is used to place large food orders from local restaurants and have them delivered to medical professionals, the recently unemployed, and families that are generally in need. This initiative supports local businesses, medical workers, and those badly impacted by the economic downturn.

3. Digital Tutoring
 – Provide free digital tutoring services to younger students around Miami Dade County who aren’t getting the academic supports they need.

4. Local Government Advocacy
 – Identify a need that is going unmet and persuade local government officials to help.

5. Services for the Elderly
 – Support those in our community most endangered and affected by COVID-19. Students might make calls to isolated seniors in nursing homes through the South Florida Institute on Aging, create videos demonstrating how to use various types of technology, order food for the elderly, etc.

In the face of challenge, our Cushman students have turned their SAM projects into productive action during this global pandemic. Albeit, this has not been a traditional final chapter of high school, but it is one that will help write these students’ futures as Innovators of Change. We will miss seeing these 17 impressive faces on campus but look forward to following these alumni through their college years, professional careers and lives. Go Cougars!