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High school graduates remain hopeful despite a year of pandemic-fueled challenges
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Graduates celebrate the end of senior year at Bruce Randolph School
Miguel Cervantes and Ana Campos Palacios celebrate graduation from Bruce Randolph School

DENVER — High school comes with so many challenges for kids, and dealing with a global pandemic is what graduates at Bruce Randolph School told Rocky Mountain PBS was the root cause of their biggest senior year struggles.

But despite the pandemic, the small but mighty class of around 70 seniors graduated on Monday, May 24.

Colorado Voices

Graduates come out stronger despite the pandemic struggles

Seniors at Bruce Randolph School showed resilience during pandemic.

Ana Campos Palacios, a graduate, said the pandemic caused mental health issues for her, which led to her to struggling her senior year.

"My mom lost her job during the pandemic, so I had to take on two jobs at once to help support my family while handling school, all while helping with my siblings," Campos Palacios explained. "So, there was a lot on my plate. At one point, I fell back on my schoolwork without even knowing I did. This situation attacked my mental health because I knew I could have done way better. At the end of the day, I graduated, and I'm here, and that counts."

Campos Palacios said she wants to pursue a career in cosmetology.

Miguel Cervantes also graduated. One of Ana’s friends, Cervantes said he could relate to her struggles because his mother also lost her job during the pandemic.

Brianna Ruffino, one the speakers at the graduation ceremony, shared her pandemic-year struggles

"I'm excited about school being over with," Cervantes said. "I want to go out and do what I can to make something of myself."

Brianna Ruffino, one of the class speakers for the graduation ceremony, said it was hard not having a traditional school year, especially as a senior.

"It was tough not to have a senior year," Ruffino said. "COVID hurt me last year, especially because I was kind of worried that I wasn't going to make it to graduation. I got a C… that was the second C ever in my life."

Ruffino said she has received a couple scholarships because of her high GPA and plans on attending a 4-year university to major in business finance.

Graduates like Ignacio Gonzalez-Lopez and Tenayah Alvarado said if it weren't for their friends, families, and teachers, they wouldn't have been able to make it to graduation.

"My friends helped motivate me to graduate," Gonzalez-Lopez said. "My friends would call me every morning and tell me things like, 'Dude, you're almost there! You got this, keep going.'"

Gonzalez-Lopez said one of his dreams is to become a sports announcer. He plans on attending a university.

Alvarado referred to Bruce Randolph High School as one big, close-knit family.

"Online classes were hard," Alvarado said. "It was a struggle not being able to go to school in person because I fell behind, but my family and school were there for me and have always helped me. My teachers were supportive. It's like a big family."

Alvarado said she wants to pursue higher education, but she hasn't figured out her passion or career.

Gonzalez-Lopez and Alvarado were both surprised with the “Daddy Bruce Scholarship” along with their high school diplomas.

All Smiles: Ignacio Gonzalez-Lopez is awarded the Daddy Bruce Scholarship

Daddy Bruce’ Randolph, a man born in the 1900's from Arkansas, was a restaurateur who provided an estimated 30,000 to 40,000 meals to people in the Denver area on Thanksgiving over the span of his life. Randolph’s selfless legacy and generosity continues to be recognized around the community —  once getting a shout-out in former President Barack Obama’s State of the Union Address.

[More info: Daddy Bruce Randolph Legacy Foundation.]

Melissa Boyd, the principal at Bruce Randolph School, said she is so proud of her school’s values.

"This school is an extraordinary place. We are named after Daddy Bruce Randolph, a local restaurateur, and philanthropist," Boyd said. "When you walk through Bruce Randolph School, you're going to see our Bruce values which is the acronym of B.R.U.C.E everywhere: Brilliance, Respect Unity, Character and Effort. That's something that is infused in everything that we do here at Bruce."


Lindsey Ford is a multimedia journalist at Rocky Mountain PBS. You can reach her at lindseyford@rmpbs.org.

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