For eighth-graders across the county, the final day of school was a transition maybe not as dramatic as that of the high school seniors leaving public schools for good, but still a chance to look back and forward toward a time that looms high in many imaginations — high school.
Eighth-grade science teacher Agatha Vogelgesang addressed the students of Shiloh Middle School on Tuesday as they gathered with their loved ones for a farewell ceremony in the school gymnasium.
“It’s one of the times we can take a break and reflect feeling good, as a parent or a mentor, knowing that the kids we care about are doing just fine and are on the right path,” she said.
She welcomed the families and supporters of the graduates. She told the students, “Now would be a good day to hug them and thank them for supporting you.”
The students’ summer plans were diverse.
D.J. Mallory planned to spend time with his newborn baby sister, as well as spending some time with friends. There was still a lot of freedom in his schedule, though.
Alyssa Crabbe, Emma Youngling and Ryehn Byrnes took photos together to capture the emotions of the last day.
Alyssa will move to Texas before the start of high school. For her, this summer meant hanging out with the people she cares about before she leaves and the challenge of making new friends in her new state.
Spending time with friends was also important to Emma and Ryehn.
For Brooklynn Lewis, the summer means continuing with her dance classes to stay in top condition even while she has a break from school work. In her off days, she looks forward to visiting the pool with friends.
Her proudest achievement in middle school was getting good grades, she said, especially in her science class, which was difficult work.
“Teachers expect a lot more of you [in eighth grade],” she said.
During the ceremony, many of the eighth-graders were recognized for their achievements in scholarship, sportsmanship, attendance and service hours.
D.J. was recognized for having perfect attendance all throughout middle school, something he was proud of. Over the course of the three years, he said, the biggest change between his sixth-grade self and his soon-to-be-ninth-grade self was “making more friends.”
As Won Stewart looked ahead to a summer of volunteering at camp, he said his biggest achievement in middle school was “getting good grades, trying to persevere through tough projects and tough teachers.”
One of the most memorable was when students created a project to recognize those who were killed in 9/11 and traveled to New York to meet some of their families.
His mother, Joy Stewart, said the most profound change in her son over the three years was seeing him become more independent.
Vogelgesang finished her address by advising the students that they didn’t have to follow the crowd. “These are some great times in your life. Don't rush past them,” she said.