By Jessica Moore

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — It’s graduation season, and this year, students are thankful to celebrate their achievements in an almost normal atmosphere.

One public school in Washington Heights has overcome some tough odds and beat the average, as they hand out their diplomas.

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It’s a proud day at the Community Health Academy of the Heights.

“We have the highest graduation rate we ever had,” Principal David Falciani told CBS2’s Jessica Moore.

Ninety percent of Falciani’s senior class is graduating. That’s higher than the New York City high school average of about 79%.

“We are having conversations about your vision, your health, your housing, your food security or insecurity,” Falciani said.

Wednesday, 80 seniors were set to attend an in-person, slightly unorthodox graduation, being held in small group ceremonies throughout the day.

The Washington Heights public school serves grades 6-12, with most kids coming from the immediate area. Many, like graduating senior Jennifer Angel, are the first in their family to go to college.

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“I’m thankful for what my parents have done for me. I’m from two parents who are immigrants,” Jennifer said.

The “gracias” on her cap said it all.

CHAH opened in 2006, founded by Yvonne Stennett.

“When given the right resources, when provided with the right kind of love and appreciation for education and for professional development, it works,” she said.

Most students attended school remotely, so it was that much more special that they could be together Wednesday. Randy Bowen is a school and college counselor who helped them cross the finish line.

“We were doing home visits despite COVID just because we know that this community in particular was heavily hit and it required additional care,” he said.

Wednesday, at least graduates and their families were so obviously happy to hold the diploma they worked so hard to achieve.

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There is a virtual graduation planned for the entire senior class Wednesday evening.

Jessica Moore