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School’s out (forever?)

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When we started talking with Mayán Alvarado-Goldberg and Mahta Ahmed, she was planning to go to Northwestern on a full-tuition scholarship, and he was applying for the super-competitive engineering program at UCLA. Courtesy: Mayán Alvarado-Goldberg

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On March 13, 2020, students at John Marshall High School in Los Angeles left for the day and never came back.

Not long after the coronavirus pandemic closed down schools, John Marshall canceled prom and graduation. Instead of making the most of their last few weeks together, seniors like Mayán Alvarado-Goldberg wiled away the end of high school in remote classes.

“To be honest, I feel like I have not learned a single thing,” Alvarado-Goldberg said.

But right now, she and her classmates have bigger concerns on their minds. When you’re 17 or 18, you’re often making choices that can dictate the course of your whole life. Picking a college and deciding to take out loans is complicated enough; doing it during a pandemic is even harder.

Mayán Alvarado-Goldberg, left, and Elisa Littin

On this week’s show, we’re following Alvarado-Goldberg and two other soon-to-be graduates: her boyfriend, Mahta Ahmed and her best friend Elisa Littin.

We’ve been checking in with them throughout the semester as they deal with college decisions, parents out of work and the prospect that no matter where they attend school in the fall, they might not be physically going anywhere.

“Sometimes I feel like it’s pointless to kind of be hopeful about that stuff,” Alvarado-Goldberg said. “It’s really hard to get excited for things knowing that they could just not happen at all.”

By the way, today is the last day of Marketplace’s spring fundraising drive. Most media outlets have taken a hit because of the pandemic, and we’re no exception. We know not everyone can afford to give right now, but if you love the show and you are in a position to donate, we would really appreciate it. Even a small, one-time gift goes a long way.  You can donate and find more information here.

And don’t forget to subscribe to our newsletter for more stories about the pandemic, as well as some recommendations from our team. Here’s the latest issue, in case you missed it.

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