8th Grade Closing Ceremony 2024 

8th Grade Closing Ceremony 2024 
Dani Seiss

Families, faculty, and staff celebrated the graduation of the Class of 2028 from Middle School in early June. 

The ceremony began with opening remarks from Middle School Principal, Kelsey Twist Schroeder, also a parent to a graduating 8th grader.

Kelsey’s welcome speech centered around the phrase, “Moving on up,” which she broke down into its component words, examining the various uses and applied meanings of each, and how they best described this particular special event and the students’ unique moment in time. Particularly, she noted, its meaning as it aligned with the school’s mission:

“At GDS, moving on up means becoming an improved version of yourself. I want you to think of ‘moving on up’ as the moment in which you become the next best version of you. Finally, moving on up suggests no ending point, and it is true that we never stop learning to be better versions of ourselves. That’s a lifelong process, and yet, there are breakthrough moments and important milestones. That is what today is all about.”

In between and around presentations of certificates and a choral performance of Lionel Richie’s and Michael Jackson’s “We Are the World,” four of the graduating students, Celia Carr, Maceo Lindsey, Ella Maas, and Noah Jansen, waxed nostalgic on their Lower/Middle School experiences at GDS, often selecting memories that would incite laughter, either through there quirkiness or through their presentation. 

Ella listed her memories as chapters from a book, one chapter entitled: Not our finest moment: the bay trip. Let me remind you . . . WAIT. Are their parents here? Yeah -ok, never mind - I’ll leave it at that. What happens on the bay trip stays on the bay trip.

Cia expounded on a theme based on a quote by Rickie Lee Jones: “You never know when you are making a memory,” stressing that the saying proved true to her middle school experience as she had made memories of things that she wouldn’t have expected. 

Maceo focused on the tabula rasa of their futures, drawing and expounding on the metaphor of paint and canvas: “But life… is about filling your blank head, a blank canvas, with paints of different vibrant shades, the paints chemically compounded by your beliefs, relationships, experiences, desires, will, and more.”

Noah focused on the traits of the GDS mascot, the grasshopper, stressing the insect’s resiliency, ability to create balance, and its aptitude in leaping forward. “The most important, but little known fact about this creature is that it only jumps forward. Like the grasshopper, the reason we are all here today is to move forward in our lives,” he said.

When the students’ speeches, music, and presentations were finished, Head of School, Russell Shaw, closed the ceremony with remarks, focusing on the liminal quality of the students’ shared moment in time and explaining his particular application of the word: “It means to be standing in between two things--like standing in a doorway. And that’s where you are right now… no longer middle school students and not yet high school students.” he said.

Russell called on them to remember what they have learned in their formative years at GDS and how easy it is to take their unique position for granted. He also asked them to remember that they have been presented at GDS with an opportunity to benefit from a diversity of perspectives and a chance to learn to welcome and tolerate those differences—a vital experience for their futures. 

“For the rest of your lives, you’ll be called on to wrestle with different points of view—to hold complexity in making sense of the world. As a country, I’d argue that we’re not very good at this right now,” said Russell, “We tend to see our own version of truth…As you prepare to enter High School, may you embrace the opportunity to learn from each other, deeply and with authenticity, and may your learning bring our world just a little closer to the healed place that it can be.”

Congratulations, class of 2028!

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8th Grade Closing Ceremony 2024 
  • Middle School