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Four high schools later, siblings get to Valley Stream Central prom

From left: Valley Stream Central High School guidance

From left: Valley Stream Central High School guidance counselor Amy LaPersonerie helped siblings Elise Guzman and Elijah Guzman reach their goal of graduating. Here they hang out at the school's prom at Leonard's of Great Neck on June 5, 2015. Photo Credit: Rachael Funk

High school can be a challenge for any student, but few can say they've faced what Elise and Elijah Guzman have been through.

Elise and Elijah, both 18 (she is 10 months older), are graduating from Valley Stream Central High School this year despite each student having been enrolled in four different schools throughout their high school experience.

Originally, Elijah began high school in Manhattan while Elise was attending school in New Jersey. In an effort to keep the family in the same place, their father pulled them from their schools and the family moved to Far Rockaway in the fall of 2012.

Soon after the Guzman family settled into their new home, Sandy blew through the area, destroying their home and forcing the family to relocate once again.

"As soon as we settled, the hurricane hit and messed up all our stuff," said Elise.

"We got really good at playing board games in the dark with flashlights," Elijah added.

After the storm, Elise and Elijah moved from Far Rockaway High School to Amityville Memorial High School, then finally made a permanent move to Valley Stream Central High School to finish their educations in January 2013.

Since Elise had started high school in New Jersey, she had to take makeup classes to stay on track for graduation.

"It was hard for me because every time I went to a different school, they were teaching a different thing. [Elijah] can sleep in class and pass a test, but I need to pay attention," Elise said.

Amy LaPersonerie, the students' guidance counselor, is proud of the Guzmans' academic and social success.

"They are very close, they meet at their lockers every day," she says. "They're both so well-liked among their peers."

Both Elise and Elijah have plans to attend college in the fall. But on Friday their only concern was enjoying prom with all their friends before finally saying goodbye to high school.


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