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Cristo Rey Jesuit High School

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Despite year of adversity, Minneapolis high school to graduate entire senior class for 11th straight year

Inside the brand-new technology lab at Cristo Rey Jesuit High School in Minneapolis, 17-year-old Diego Argueta reflects on his senior year and his upcoming graduation.
 
"It feels amazing," he said.
 
Argueta is one of 112 seniors at Cristo Rey, and despite a stressful year in the midst of a pandemic, every single one is graduating and heading off to college. It's the 11th year in a row the school has graduated all of its seniors.
 
"The victory is theirs. They did it — they showed up and they achieved," said Kesiah Kolbow, Corporate Work Study director at Cristo Rey.
 
 
Some of the students, like Argueta, are the first in their family to graduate from high school.

"For me, its a great feeling,' Argueta said. "I get to be the example for my family, my younger siblings, my younger cousins."

He plans to study global business leadership and says preparing for his future was difficult while studying remotely this past year because of COVID-19. 

"For remote, you need a lot more discipline. When you are at home you can continue sleeping, turn on the computer and walk away, so discipline, you have to have really good discipline to really get through it," Argueta said.

And as difficult as the pandemic was, Cristo Rey's location in south Minneapolis just west of Midtown Global Market was near the center of last year's civil unrest on Lake Street.

Kolbow says for Cristo Rey students, and especially for students of color, the trauma was real.

"It's another opportunity for us as adults to listen," she said. "They are our future difference-makers, our change-makers, and we need to listen to them and understand as adults how we can support them and respond."

But Kolbow says through it all, those students have shown remarkable leadership and perseverance this year.

"The resilience of (Cristo Rey) students is inspiring," she said. "Their tenacity to do better for their families and communities is one of the most tremendous things a person could experience."

For Argueta, graduation signifies a family achievement — and the start of a new challenge he's ready for.

"The example I am trying to set is if you put your mind to the things you want, anything is achievable when you put your mind to it," Argueta said.