CHICAGO - It was a banner year for graduates at Chicago Bulls College Prep on the West Side.
The class of 2023 set school records for scholarship offers, the number of seniors to graduate and Ivy League-bound students.
Principal Mark Hamstra calls the class "very special," not just for what it achieved, but for what it overcame, with the middle two years of the class's high school experience happening during the pandemic.
"When you go through these hard things, sometimes new life, new strength, new hope can come through that," Hamstra said.
Angel Gutierrez and Valedictorian David Meduga are each headed to the Ivy League. Guitierrez is going to Harvard, where he'll major in computer science, and Meduga is going to Yale, where he'll study economics.
"High school was very tough for us," said Gutierrez. "The first time I came in as a freshman, I didn't really know what was going on. And then right around March, COVID-19 happened and I had almost two years away from school."
However, through all the hardship, Meduga had this advice to give high school students:
"Pursue your interests, your curiosity--whatever makes you interested. Always explore," said Meduga.
"Just seeing all of their accomplishments and all of their goals come to fruition despite all the challenges they faced throughout their high school careers with the pandemic, I'm just overjoyed," said Shannon Gunty, the Dean of College and Career Counseling.
As a group, the Bulls College Prep class of 2023 received over $20 million worth of scholarships and graduated more seniors than it ever had before, with five headed to the Ivy League.