VOA News

Intimate Portraits Capture Loss, Hopes of 2020's Senior Class.

The pandemic has put lives of students on hold, especially high school graduates who are unable to celebrate the completion of their secondary education with the traditional senior dance — the prom — and the graduation ceremony.

To save the day, award-winning photographer Matt Mendelsohn volunteered to photograph each one of the 500 seniors of Yorktown High School in Arlington, Virginia, his neighborhood high school. Each portrait encapsulates the graduate’s talents, hopes and aspirations.

Mendelsohn, a 35-year veteran photographer, has chronicled wars, the Rodney King beating by Los Angeles police officers, the Academy Awards and boxing title fights, among others.

So, it seems surprising that he would take time to photograph each and every one of the seniors of Yorktown High School, free of charge, to mark the end of their secondary education. But when he saw the sadness in his daughter’s eyes, an 11th-grader at Yorktown high who would be missing out on the yearly school dance in her new dress, he realized how much greater the loss of the school year was for high school seniors.

But soon, the project morphed from depicting loss to capturing the students’ hopes and aspirations. Many chose to be photographed with beloved objects that encapsulate who they are.

Yorktown High School seniors are anything but forgotten. Mendelsohn said his pictures have gone viral the world over.


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