2024 4th grade promotion 

2024 4th grade promotion 
Dani Seiss

Families, faculty, staff, and friends gathered together in early June to celebrate the promotion of the class of 2032 from the 4th grade. The strains of “Pomp and Circumstance” set the mood as Lower School Principal Cami Okubo opened with acknowledgments and the reminder: “Know that you are surrounded by people who care deeply about you and are immensely proud of you.”

She then introduced Head of School Russell Shaw who spoke to the students about community, defining it as “being willing to think about and care about the well-being of those around you,” and stressing that it is one of the most important things the faculty wants for them to learn at GDS. “Fourth graders, I promise you, there will be moments in middle school when one of your classmates is struggling, when they are unhappy, when they are feeling excluded. Will you notice? And will you act?” said Russell, “Will you be willing to step up for someone else, even if it costs you something? Those small moments, those acts of generosity, can make a huge difference in someone else's life,” and in yours as well, he explained.

Afterwards, the 4th grade chorus performed “This Pretty Planet” by Tom Chapin, and four students shared their school memories: 

  • Hannah recalled special projects from each grade, as well as the camping trips and spending time with her friends. 
  • Mia said she was glad her parents didn’t send her to a Catholic school as they’d first planned. She remembers when she first visited GDS, and much later how difficult the pandemic was, but that they got through it together.
  • Theo thanked his teachers for all of the help they gave him. 
  • Vienne expressed her gratitude to everyone at GDS for warmly welcoming her to 4th grade, her first year at the school, and shared her memory of feeling nervous and out of place at the beginning.

After the student recollections, Lower School Counselor and Department Chair Meryl Heyliger, now in her 11th year at GDS, spoke of the class of 2032 as “...incredibly creative and thoughtful scholars who care deeply about others and truly want to make the world a better place.” She also included a survey result: “88% of our rising 5th graders believed they have skills and strategies to be the best learners they can be, and 88% agreed that they set and work toward goals. The majority also said that they speak up when they see something unjust or unfair.” She introduced 4th grader Noah, who presented the 4th grade class gift to the Lower School. 

Noah said that this year, one of his classmates had an idea about planting a tree. “We also thought it would be nice to share positive or encouraging words with others.” They decorated large and small wooden grasshoppers with affirming words and phrases such as be you, help others, and community. “The little grasshoppers will hang from the tree that will be installed on the second floor during summer break,” he said.

Following a slideshow presentation of student memories, Cami announced each student by name to come forward and receive their promotion certificate.

To conclude the ceremony, the 4th grade teachers gave encouragement and advice:

“As we send you off to middle school, please continue to advocate for yourself and others,” said Julia Tomasko ’05, “You are kind, funny, awesome people–stay true to yourself.”

Liz Spratley reminded students to stop, wait, and think before they speak, and said “You have grown as individuals and as a community… Your words are powerful; use them to connect and lift each other up!”

Payal Sangani encouraged them to listen to others, “Let them tell you their stories and learn from them,” she said.

Jay Tucker urged them to continue to use their creativity to innovate and create to solve problems in our community; to take risks and be brave, and he wished them congratulations on behalf of them all: “We are all so proud of you!”

Congratulations class of 2032! 

View and download photos here >>

2024 4th grade promotion 
  • Lower School