F.E. Bellows Elementary School fifth graders celebrated their accomplishments during a virtual moving-up ceremony on June 19. The event, which was livestreamed via YouTube, opened with a slideshow of the fifth graders’ yearbook portraits while Principal Michael Scarantino read aloud each student’s name.
“This is the first moving-up ceremony being conducted via a Google Meet in my long educational career, and you are the first fifth grade cohort to be moving onto the middle school having completed your studies from home,” Scarantino said.
He commended the students for putting in hard work and commitment over the last three months of home learning, and he reminded them that they were able to get through this difficult time together.
“Your teachers and I knew that even in March, before this pandemic ended your in-school Bellows careers, that you were already armed with the skills, knowledge and tools you would need,” he said. “All this pandemic did was make you stronger, individually and as a family.”
As the students embark on the next phase of their educational journey, Scarantino encouraged them to continue to value each other’s similarities and differences and know that they always have each other to lean on.
“Your persistence, determination and grit will serve you well into your middle school years and beyond,” he said.
Superintendent of Schools Dr. Barbara Ferraro acknowledged that the students are ready for new, exciting challenges and opportunities that await them at middle school. She described them as a class of strong and resilient students, who quickly adjusted to new ways of learning while staying positive and supportive of each other.
The ceremony concluded with surprise appearances by two special guests – actor Kevin Hart and author Chris Gardner. During his remarks, Hart encouraged the students to stay together, stay focused and keep pushing forward to do better. Gardner, an entrepreneur, motivational speaker and author of the critically acclaimed “The Pursuit of Happyness,” said he was honored to be invited to share a few words of wisdom with the students.
“You’re not too young to start thinking about this, but this is not the time to disengage from your teachers,” Gardner said. “This is not the time to step back from pursuing your education. This is the time to turn on to it and turn it up because you all represent the future of this country, and before you know it, it’s going to be your turn.”