Southland College Prep's entire class of 2020 is heading to college

RICHTON PARK, Ill. (WLS) -- Circumstances may have forced them apart, but the senior class at Southland College Prep in Richton Park was all-in as the school celebrated all 136 students in the class of 2020 heading to college. Because of the pandemic, Thursday's banner raising and ceremony were virtual.

"I don't really feel cheated," said Anu Solola, one of the class valedictorians."I just try to recognize this is best that we could have."

The class of seniors are the south suburban charter high school's 7th graduating class to all be accepted by an institution of higher learning. This year, they collectively earned nearly $60 million in merit-based scholarships. So far, graduating classes at Southland have racked up over $200 million in scholarship offers.

"When historians write about the class of 2020, you know what they are going to say? They achieved despite everything," said Dr. Blondean Davis, the school's CEO.

And while the students mark this important milestone, Malik Fountain wonders if the spread of COVID-19 will not just rob him and his classmates of the trappings of their senior year, but their college experience.

"I'm still holding out hope for that we'll be able to go to school at least in some amounts next year," Fountain said.

Fountain, 18, was accepted to Columbia University in the fall to study mechanical engineering. His classmate, 17-year-old Micah Drigo will head off to Stanford University. Both are admittedly uncertain about the future, but trying to stay optimistic.

"You just have to accept the situation for what it is and make the best of it," Drigo said.

A virtual graduation is planned for the class of 2020 on May 30.
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