Fifth-graders say good-bye to Bond Mill [West Laurel]

School's out for summer! The last award was handed out, the graduates are probably still partying, students are heading to the beach or summer camp and the teachers are also taking a much-needed break. The heat is on and new summer memories are in the making.

Bond Mill celebrated its fifth-grade promotion on June 5. Most of the students have been there since kindergarten. Life-long friendships have been made between the kids and also a lot of the parents. The ceremony began early in the morning. Principal Justin FitzGerald welcomed families with his usual wit and warmth. The guest alumnus speaker was Mark Roeder, who attended Bond Mill from kindergarten to sixth-grade in the early 1990s. He is now back living in West Laurel after a Navy career, with his wife, Lauren Fink Roeder. Their son, Brennan, is a second-grader at Bond Mill and daughter, Lily, will be a kindergartner in the fall. Mark captured the crowd's attention as one of those Bond Mill kids who holds fond memories of growing up in a supportive community.

All fifth-graders received a certificate presented by teachers Glen Belton, Tracey Lally, Kim Snider Kennedy and Savannah Jackson. Very special plaques were presented to the student government officers: President Olivia Hardy; Secretary Mia Reese; and Treasurer Trevor Bateman. Mia Maniece was awarded a special plaque, too, as Bond Mill's G.O.L.D. student. The Mary Jane Lusby Award for outstanding all-around performance including academics was presented to Marley Helton and Trevor Bateman. The Lori Wood Memorial Courage Award was presented to Lisette Velasquez, and the Shining Star Award was presented to Carmen Rich.

Elijah Johnson read the Dr. Seuss book, "Oh! The Places The Places You Will Go!" The very talented fifth-grade instrumental students and chorus had the large crowd on their feet. Bond Mill students who shared their Bond Mill memories throughout the year were Devaria Dunston, Robert Wood, Jaron Dickerson, Kayla Smith, Daniel Colerangle, Azaria Muhammad, Courtney Akateh, Sophia Michael, Genesis Perdomo, Ahmed Abdeldayem, Jeliah Toure and Leila Ogba. Principal FitzGerald presented the traditional power point highlighting the treasured memories of six happy grade-school years. Congratulations, Bond Mill Class of 2017.

Congratulations, too, to the champions of the annual Bond Mill third-grade spelling bee, which was held on June 7. At the end, there were five spellers left: Ayaa Jarra, Ethan Sullivan, Riley Galloway, Melanie Tepeu Rodriguez and Claudia van der Have. After moving into fourth-grade words, Claudia van der Have won with the word "grown."

If you are trying to track down our neighborhood summer playground, the West Laurel Community Building is where the action is this summer. Go to To register, click on SMARTlinks. The playground operates Monday through Friday 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.; closed on July 4. Preregistration is mandatory, and there is a nominal fee.

The Fourth of July is right around the corner. God bless our great country and our independence.

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