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Rockaway High School seniors participate in annual ‘College and Career March’

Dec. 12, 2023 By John Schilling

An annual tradition returned to Rockaway Park last Friday as 175 seniors from Channel View School for Research marched around campus and mailed out letters of gratitude to counselors, mentors and teachers in the 13th annual “College and Career March.”

Members of the senior class at Channel View present a new banner for this year’s College and Career March. Photo courtesy of NYC Outward Bound Schools

The annual ritual, started in 2011 by NYC Outward Bound Schools, involves nearly 1,000 high school seniors marching to local post office boxes to mail letters as a symbol of their “perseverance, hard work and the necessary school support” in applying to colleges or figuring out whatever path comes next after high school. With that in mind, this year marked the first time that the event was rebranded from the “College March” to the “College and Career March.”

“Today is a reminder that with perseverance and support, all our students can graduate with a high-quality plan and go on to lead fulfilling, purposeful and economically secure lives,” NYC Outward Bound Schools CEO Vanessa Rodriguez said on Friday. “This year we reimagined the name and purpose of the event to better align with the changing postsecondary landscape and celebrate all of the pathways that our students choose.”

One of those students is Mia Heera, a Channel View senior, who plans to study pediatric nursing in college. 

“I’ve been at Channel View since 6th grade, and I’ve seen the College March every year since then,” Heera said. “To finally experience it was unreal! It felt relieving in a way to celebrate as a senior, knowing that my applications have been submitted.”

While some students mailed out thank you letters, Heera was one of many students who embraced “a special Channel View tradition” and mailed letters of encouragement to the school’s incoming 9th graders with the goal of inspiring next year’s freshmen to “put in the effort to pursue their dreams.”

In earlier years, the annual march also involved seniors mailing out college application materials and decision letters. However, with schools seeking submissions online in recent years, NYC Outward Bound Schools has preserved the tradition by focusing on letters of gratitude and encouragement.

Instead of marching to the post office, Channel View’s senior class gathered on the school’s football field and lined up one-by-one to drop their letters in a special post box. In doing so, some students held up banners and pennants of their future colleges, as Assemblymember Stacey Pheffer Amato cheered them on.

Channel View seniors mail letters of gratitude as Assemblywoman Pheffer Amato cheers them on. Photo courtesy of NYC Outward Bound Schools

“I love attending the annual College March and joining each student as they prepare to embark on their next adventure,” Pheffer Amato said. “Every year I cheer for the students as they drop [their letters] in the mailbox and have such a profound level of hope and excitement in their eyes. I congratulate all of them because when I see the students of Channel View, I know our future is in good hands.”

While not present for the ceremony, Council Member Joann Ariola also sent her support to the students.

“Your school has prepared you well for what lies ahead,” Ariola said in a message. “I wish each and every one of you a bright future in whatever path you may choose.”

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