Rafael Vargas will have one senior year to remember.

Rafael Vargas


He is Delta Streets Academy’s  sole senior for the Class of 2020. He’s also graduating amid the COVID-19 pandemic, an unprecedented time for many, including students who have had to adjust to getting their education through remote learning.

The 18-year-old, whose parents are Diana Martinez and Jose Zuniga, said he found it “really crazy” to be the only graduating senior, especially since there were eight graduates in the Class of 2019.

“It was really weird because everybody looked up to me,” he said, adding that “everybody supported me.”

As a senior, Vargas said he wanted to set a good example for his younger peers.

The school’s small number of students also allowed Vargas to be friends with students from different grades. In fact, he said it’s the “brotherhood” at Delta Streets that he’ll miss the most.

“Everybody kind of knows each other. Everybody’s friends. You could go from one table to another and talk with them,” he said.

Vargas said that when Delta Streets closed its campus and moved classes online, the transition to remote learning was initially difficult, since he also had to help take care of his 6-year-old brother. Vargas would be studying, and “there would be times when he wanted breakfast or lunch,” he said.

“Over time, as online classes went, I kind of found the schedule with him,” Vargas said.

Vargas said he will go to Mississippi Delta Community College to complete his general studies and then transfer to Mississippi State University to pursue a bachelor’s degree in accounting.

Unlike some peers who talk about leaving Greenwood, Vargas said he doesn’t see himself going elsewhere. “Personally, I like Greenwood. I want to stay here.”

Until 2016, Vargas lived in Houston, Texas. He said the way of life there was rushed and impersonal and the residents were disconnected, lacking “proper manners.”

In contrast, in Greenwood, “everybody is usually nice to each other,” he said. “You can make friends with everybody.”

•Contact Gerard Edic at 581-7239 or gedic@gwcommonwealth.com.

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