On June 7, Charlottesville High School celebrated the graduation of the Class of 2018. Of the nearly 250 students receiving their diplomas, 18 graduates were refugees whose families where resettled in Charlottesville with the help of the IRC. Each year, between 8% and 12% of the graduating class of Charlottesville High School have originally come here as refugees, some arriving as young toddlers and some as teenagers just entering high school.
Earlier in May, the IRC’s School Specialist, Monte Hackney, recognized many of these graduates, as well as their younger peers, for their hard work during an end of year celebration at the Central Library. Students were recognized not only for their outstanding academic achievements, but also for their citizenship in the classroom, their love of learning, and their hard work ethic.
Each of the 51 students recognized received a certificate with comments from teachers who had nominated them for recognition. Of one student, a Walker Upper Elementary School teacher wrote, “[Aimee] is an example for everyone in the class to emulate. Not only does she bring her smile and her kindness to our room, but she also brings [the] work ethic of a champion. She never complains, never shies away from hard work, and never puts down a peer. She lives her life with passion.”
Another student, Saqib, who attends Woodbrook Elementary, was recently nominated by his teacher for the school’s Martin Luther King, Jr. Award. His teacher wrote that she chose him because other students looked to him as a classroom leader and consistently described Sadiq as kind, peaceful, and respectful of others. She also noted that he earned this level of recognition “despite the significant barriers of English language proficiency and cultural adjustment.”
For so many refugee children like Sadiq, starting school can be a difficult adjustment in the beginning, as they rush to learn English and catch up to their grade level, in addition to settling into the Charlottesville community. To see so many students now thriving in school is a testament to both the incredible staff of our local public school systems, and to the strength and hard work of these students.