Strengthening Families. Building Communities. Reducing Poverty.

Pomp and Circumstance

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Catholic Charities Refugee Youth Program had another successful year! We successfully merged our two elementary program sites into one site hosted at the Galilee Center of East Charlotte. Our new middle school program was a resounding success, allowing us to serve students who had previously been underserved. In the high school program, our students at Garinger continued to be consistently supported during drop-in tutoring on Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays. b2ap3_thumbnail_635977310849890222-1175716645_Grad_caps_in_air.jpgUnderserved students at East Mecklenburg High School were now eligible to attend a weekly drop-in tutoring program beginning January 2016. We also, through generous private support, were able to purchase a 15 passenger mini-bus. It was a busy year!

But of all of these successes, two hot mornings in June stand out as being emblematic of our students’ hard work and the dedication of the family, teachers and afterschool staff who support them. On June 9th, 2 of our Garinger seniors successfully walked across the Bojangles Coliseum stage. The following day, 3 of our East Mecklenburg seniors followed in the footsteps of their peers. All were greeted outside the arena by an overwhelming show of support, pride and countless selfies and photo shoots.

In context, this joy and pride is more than justified. All of our graduating seniors moved to the United States in middle school or early high school. Not only were they immediately thrown into a complex academic system, but they also struggled with language acquisition, culture shock, familial responsibility and stress. And yet these students pushed forward, worked hard and attained one of the most fundamental credentials required by our society. 

The thing is, for many of our students, the diploma is just the beginning. Although our program is sad to see our seniors move on, we are comforted by their plans to attend CPCC, enter the workforce and become contributing, thriving members of society. Now, it is simply our job as an agency and as a community to continue to find ways to support and welcome these impressive young adults into the next phase of their lives.

If you would like to learn more about how to support high school refugee students, please contact Patrick Costanzo, Assistant Facilitator with the Refugee Youth Program (pgcostanzo@charlottediocese.org).

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By Patrick Costanzo,
Assistant Facilitator Refugee Youth

Catholic Charities Diocese of Charlotte © 2014