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Teens Who Fled Hurricane Maria Are Among New England’s High School Class of 2018

The bell rings and students hustle to get to class at Holyoke High School. Photo by Jill Kaufman for NEPR

The bell rings and students hustle to get to class at Holyoke High School. Photo by Jill Kaufman for NEPR

After Hurricane Maria last September, a few thousand school aged-students were among those who left Puerto Rico with their families and came to New England. As the school year wraps up some of them are graduating, thousands of miles away from home.

Mayrangelique Rojas De Leon is among them. She recently completed her last exam and is now part of the Class of 2018.

While at most high schools this time of the year seniors are barely around, on a day in late May, De Leon was checking in with her art teacher about a sculpture that needed to be fired in the kiln.

Her dream for the future, she said, is to be a writer.

“I think I have a really big imagination,” De Leon said.

De Leon also has what some educators call grit. Like thousands of other students, she was displaced in the fall of 2017. In early October, De Leon arrived in Holyoke, Massachusetts, by herself. She lived with an uncle before her mother and sister arrived a month later.

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