‘We helped students heal from the abrupt way their year ended’

Filmmaker and photographer Diana Markosian’s work for National Geographic includes a profile of 2020 graduates affected by the pandemic.

A lot of my work as a photographer has been about revisiting and reconstructing the past. Getting a second chance. Last year I got to graduate from high school.

I wanted to spend part of 2020 profiling one school in America affected by the pandemic. So many stories I was reading in the spring felt hopeless. “The Lost Year” was the headline of 2020. I was searching for a school that hadn’t given up.

That’s when I read an article about Principal Mike Lewandowski, who was planning a socially distanced parade for the senior class of St. Francis High, a small school on the outskirts of Milwaukee. He had such energy. He wasn’t going to be defined by the pandemic. I realized later that both of us were determined not to let 2020 be the year that broke us.

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