Houston-area high school class of 2020 takes on new, undefined paths amid pandemic

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- George Ranch senior Andrew Lafferty has a a bright future. In the fall, he's attending Texas A&M University as an engineering major, and said he loves all things science.

"I've been doing 3D printing for a long time," said Lafferty, "I 3D print different models and objects. I actually started printing mask ear guards for different hospitals"

While he's been spending time learning new skills that feed his love of robotics, there is a lingering disappointment. Months he thought would be spent with friends, celebrations, and engineering competitions are instead spent virtually alone on his computer.

"The thing I am probably going to miss the most is the competitions because of the people," he said.

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Heights High School senior Emily Ramirez can empathize. She's missing out on the end of her senior year with her friends, and doesn't know what the fall will look like when she attends Harvard.

"We don't really know what method that will take or what that will look like," Ramirez said. "But they have said whether we're on campus or whether we'll be through remote learning, we will be having some kind of fall semester."

For some, it's not about college. Noe Nolasco, a senior at North Forest High School, is finishing up a technical certification at Barbara Jordan Career Center and Houston Community College so that he become a welder. But he wonders if there will be any jobs.

"With all the layoffs that are going on, it is kind of concerning," Nolasco said. "But hopefully nothing drastic will happen. I'm concerned there might not be a job for me, but hopefully, there is. If welding doesn't work out, I guess I'll just have to look for another trade."

He tries to stay positive, as do Ramirez and Lafferty, knowing that from challenge can come unexpected opportunity.

"Just because this is not the situation we have envisioned or wanted, it doesn't mean that there is no good that can come out of it," said Lafferty.

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