Catching Up With PDS Alumni


Now alumni, the Class of 2020 sits through their live commencement ceremony on August 1, 2020. (Photo/George Chambers/PDS Flickr)

Jackson Cook, Online Staff Writer

The class of 2020’s senior year was cut short due to the pandemic. With the spring sports season and prom cancelled, last year’s seniors were forced to leave high school and turn to a fresh start in college. But now, in early December, many are either back from campus or have completed their whole semester remote. Maggie Amaral, Josh Rafferty, and Ben Hornick explain what they’ve been up to since this abrupt end to their high school careers.

Amaral played basketball, was a peer leader, and a yearbook editor at PDS. She spent her COVID summer babysitting and spending time with her grandparents at their farm in New York and finally, once the summer ended, attended Trinity College in Hartford, CT. Here she was lucky to be on campus and attend a few in-person classes for the whole semester. When asked about her experiences, Amaral explained the social impact of the coronavirus, saying “I was really lucky to be on campus for the whole semester and take my classes in person, but I have to say it is really weird meeting people with masks on.” Now back home, she is looking forward to returning in 2021, where she will continue studying and meeting new people.

Josh Rafferty spent his time off of school becoming a Cutco knife salesman and taking the night shift at Wawa. He explained that taking up these two jobs, although grueling work, was a learning experience in time management. After a summer of selling knives and making sandwiches for the Princeton community, Rafferty attended Loyola University Maryland, where he majored in business economics. However, unlike Amaral, he has been 100% online. “I have not set foot on the campus in almost two years, since the first time I was even there.” Though not presently on campus, Rafferty has stayed active by applying for a junior fellows research intern position at the Library of Congress in Washington D.C. 

Ben Hornick has just finished his first semester at Syracuse. Hornick was online as well, but he did visit campus for a short time in November. However, due to COVID once again, Hornick’s visit to campus was far from eventful. He noted that several students were expelled for hosting a party and, thereafter, fear of potentially being kicked out of college spread. Hornick also described how online school has been affecting him, stating that the classwork “was not that difficult, but it was hard to feel connected to the class when it’s not in person.” It’s safe to assume that many students feel similar. Hornick is planning to major in international relations next semester. 

Hornick, Amaral, and Rafferty were forced to look forward when their time at PDS met its end in June. Yet, they’ve kept busy and have completed their first semesters in college, using the skills and memories they gained at PDS.