I've photographed plenty of high school graduations before, but they've all be out in the suburbs. Watching a group of genuine city-of-Chicago kids take the rite of passage into adulthood was something different — and worth seeing. "Many of us here come from households who don't have as many opportunities as other people might have," National Honor Society member Valerie Diaz told her classmates. "Some of us are undocumented, while others are fighting money problems. Yet many of us will be the first to graduate from high school in our families. "Many of our parents told us 'Ponte las pilas,' which literally means put the batteries in,'" she continued. "After everything that has happened, we are all in the same room because of what we have accomplished these past four years." "We just proved ourselves today by walking down this stage, so it’s time we go for everything they said we couldn’t have" said Jessica Hererra. "Now it’s time to take action. We are the voice of our people and of future generations, so it’s up to us to see what we do." "We don't know we have unconditional love until we need it," Selena Antunez said in the Reflection speech. "I learned that everything we do doesn't only affect us but the people around us, too. We have all learned to appreciate the people who care for us a little more, now that we are all grown up."
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