High school graduation is a major milestone for students and families. It means even more for students who have completed extra academics involved with the Health Sciences and Technology Program. They started HSTA as freshman.
Mercer County has seven seniors graduating with HSTA honors. But none of them are letting the disruption presented by Coronavirus stop them from chasing their dreams.
"I think it's brought us more together, and made us closer in the hardships," Princeton High School Senior, Isaac Muncy said.
"I'm kind of sad, because I don't get to see my friends or go to class and I kind of miss it, but we all have to learn to adapt," Princeton High School Senior, Makayla Chibuzo said. =
"We're unique in what we've experienced and I think it's brought us closer together and makes us more united to have to endure this together," Bluefield High School Senior, Ethan Harvey said.
Most HSTA scholars in West Virginia are from rural areas. 69% are females, 37% are African Americans. Most of these students are first generation college hopefuls. Most usually graduate at the top of their class.
"It's more comforting to know that you're not alone and that there's other people who can share what you're feeling," Bluefield High School Senior, Mone'y Williams said.
There is a heartbreaking absence among these Mercer County HSTA graduates. Anthony "Lil Tony" Alexander Webster III. He died in January 2019 and Lil Tony was on track to graduate in the top 10 in the program.
"He would just have the biggest smile on his face, and crack jokes with everybody," Bluefield High School Senior, Ayonna Helm said.
Most of these graduating seniors plan to enter careers in the medical field or engineering. All of them recognize HSTA laid the foundation for those futures, futures full of promise.
"Keep the faith and just know that we'll be in history books, and it's going to be OK and we'll all see each other again," Helm said.