Eighth graders celebrated their accomplishments over the last three years during a moving-up ceremony, held before an audience of family, friends, teachers and administrators on June 24.
The ceremony featured inspiring words from student representatives Gabriella Fasolino and Saminal Quli, who reflected on their middle school experiences and the lessons they learned when facing challenges.
Fasolino said she looked forward to trying new activities, learning new material and making new friends in high school, and reminded her fellow classmates that they all have each other’s backs as support over the next four years.
“We need to have confidence as we enter high school,” Fasolino said. “We have been preparing for what is to come, which will be nothing other than greatness. Therefore, hold your heads high and have the time of your lives because soon we’ll be standing here as seniors throwing our caps in the air. We need to remember it’ll all go by in a blink of an eye.”
Quli encouraged her fellow classmates to embrace challenges because that’s what builds character and strength. She reflected on the entire class’s contribution and resilience in following safety guidelines, wearing masks and social distancing over the last year and a half.
“Hardships are going to happen in life but it’s how we grow and find ourselves through those experiences that define us as individuals,” Quli said. “Through those experiences we know that if we see something wrong with the world, we can effect change. We must be the change and stand tall instead of allowing adversity to take control of us. That is how our world can become a place that is safe, fair and just to everyone.”
In his remarks, Principal Dr. Eric Lutinski reflected on the students’ growth, resilience and ability to overcome obstacles, including quarantines, desk shields, asynchronous learning, cohorts, open windows in January and masks.
“Congratulations to each of you for achieving during what will become a legendary chapter in your life story,” Dr. Lutinski said. “Thank you, students, for demonstrating that you are capable of using your heads and having heart when faced with a challenge. Thank you, parents, for cheering so that we knew you were there when we needed you most. Thank you to every teacher, counselor, psychologist, assistant, nurse, custodian, grounds crew, secretary, clerk, monitor, coach, food server, administrator and Board member for making sure we were never alone in the ring.”
Superintendent of Schools Dr. Barbara Ferraro offered words of wisdom to the students and encouraged them to always stay positive and continue to support each other.
“This unusual school year brought to light your inner strength, resilience and creativity, which allowed you to find positive results within challenges that you faced,” Dr. Ferraro said. “When things seem difficult, remember all that you were able to achieve as eighth graders, believe in yourself and know that you have what it takes to succeed. Your future is very bright.”
During the ceremony, several students received awards for excellence in academics, athletics and the arts. Signifying the conclusion of one chapter and the beginning of another, the eighth graders were called one by one to accept their certificates before they walked away from the football field as rising high school freshmen.