Middle School Closing Ceremony
The Middle School said goodbye to eighth-graders and sent them off to the Upper School with words of wisdom, memories, and music. Middle School Head Bill Waskowitz welcomed family, friends, and special guests. He congratulated the eighth grade on being caring and compassionate during their time in the Middle, and noted the support given to students by faculty and staff. “We are a community of individuals who strive to enjoy the wonderful years that are middle school,” Waskowitz said. He thanked the Parent Association and teachers as well. Head of School Chris Garten shared his remarks, discussing how during the school year, he enjoyed walking the halls of the Middle School and seeing students at work. “In all of this, I admire your engagement in what you’re doing,” he said. After eighth-grade reflections, award presentations, a farewell from the eighth grade and a response from seventh, Waskowitz gave his final remarks. Waskowitz first played the Elvis Presley version of the song, “Hound Dog,” and then the original version performed by Willie Mae “Big Mama” Thornton. He said although the song was first sung by Thornton, it was changed and made famous by Presley. Waskowtiz said the takeaway was that, “Decisions cannot exist out of context.” He said Thornton’s version was in a bluesy style that did not shy away from controversial lyrics and is framed by her experience living in a racially segregated, male-dominated society. Presley changed the lyrics and the tempo, making the song easier to dance to, and tailored it to a white audience. Waskowitz talked about the books students read in the Middle and how the historical context, including oppressive regimes and segregation, drove the decisions of the characters. “You have all that you need to do amazing things,” Waskowitz said. “I urge you to think about the power your decisions have.” Head of Upper School Matt Bolton welcomed eighth-graders to the Upper School. He said he looked forward to having the new class of ninth-graders. Student performers throughout the ceremony included eighth-graders Savi Thompson, Isabelle Beaver, Ellie Cain, Mallory Gravitt, Annelise Hawgood, Olivia Morris, and Nora Meisch. During the Middle School Closing Ceremony, three awards were also presented, recognizing the hard work of students throughout their time at the Middle School. The Patricia Howard Award of Distinction was presented to eighth-grader Anna Papakirk. The Archie Griffin Sportsmanship Award was presented to eighth-graders Olivia Morris and Ryan Meador.