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Class of 2021 Prepares for New Moving-Up Ceremony

This+year%27s+eighth+graders+will+be+the+first+class+to+commemorate+their+middle+school+years+at+Benjamin+Hall.
This year's eighth graders will be the first class to commemorate their middle school years at Benjamin Hall.

This year's eighth graders will be the first class to commemorate their middle school years at Benjamin Hall.

Mr. Crisafi

Mr. Crisafi

This year's eighth graders will be the first class to commemorate their middle school years at Benjamin Hall.

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Change and moving up is a big deal, leaving one place and taking the next step to the other. The class of 2021 at The Benjamin Middle School is doing exactly that. On Wednesday May 17, parents, faculty, and administration will gather at Benjamin Hall to celebrate the transition of our eighth-grade class to their new campus. Not only is the eighth grade moving on to the Upper School, but the ceremony itself is also packing its bags and moving from the quaint quarters of the middle school gym to Benjamin Hall.

The moving-up ceremony has been a tradition at the Middle School since May of 2008. For the past nine years, the ceremony was held in the gym, and students were announced as they walked through a trellis erected on steps. The students, faculty, and parents would have a nice lasagna dinner while a photo montage played highlights of the students’ lives. Student and administrative speakers would provide advice for the students, and everyone would have a great time.

But it is time for change. This is because we now have a spectacular theater at the Upper School where this event can be held. In addition, students were traditionally allowed to have two guests attend because of the size of the gymnasium. However, due to the expanse of Benjamin Hall, the eighth graders may now invite as many guests as they wish.

And so because the ceremony is moving into a very different setting, it seems appropriate that the format of the ceremony change as well. For the past 9 years, the only way in which students were individually showcased during the ceremony was when a collage of photos showing each student appeared on the screen for a very brief period of time. The move to Benjamin Hall will address the issue of focusing more on each student.

The students not only had to submit a handful of personal photos for the ceremony, but they also had to choose a quote that reflected their personal philosophy or worldview. The photos and quote will be displayed on the screens at Benjamin Hall when each individual student is recognized.

“My quote is ‘I am the one thing in life I can control, I am inimitable, I am an original’ by Aaron Burr,” said eighth grader Lucas Cotronakis. “I chose this quote because although I could not control my middle school experience, I know I can control myself and I know I am the only person like me.”

In addition, the entire eighth grade was charged with writing a speech about their experiences at Benjamin up to this point, and the top three essays, chosen by the faculty, will be read during the ceremony. The essay winners, announced at assembly on Monday, May 8, are Danai Makoni, Crystal Pauldo, and Preston Pfleegor.

Some students are not returning to The Benjamin School as they are in search of a new experience in high school. Eighth grader Julian DiFilippo is one of those students. “I think that it will very different leaving Benjamin because I have been here since kindergarten,” said Difilippo. “As I look back on my middle school years, my favorite moment was in the Everglades when my supervisor fell into the lake out of the canoe.”

To commemorate their year and make their mark on the ceremony, the Class of 2021 is creating a lip dub to the Justin Timberlake song “Can’t Stop the Feeling.”

“The lip dub is the brainchild of [seventh-grade science teacher] Mrs. [Stephanie] Oster and [Spanish teacher] Mr. [Charles] Maddox who really thought that this would be a great idea,” said Dean of Academics Dr. Tina James. “And since then many teachers have gotten involved, but it is a very fun event, and my job is to be the ‘chief bossy person’ and to make sure everything goes smoothly.”

Dr. James taught the eighth graders English last year and is going to miss the class of 2021 when they depart to the Upper School. “I love these kids,” she said. “I really only got to know them in seventh grade, however, there is a certain core group of them that have been participating in activities with me since sixth grade, such as Odyssey of the Mind club and a couple of other things.”

The eighth-grade Class of 2021 will be missed by The Benjamin Middle School, but the moving-up ceremony is a way of celebrating their accomplishments and putting a bow on this chapter of their academic lives. However, a new chapter awaits them in high school, whether it be at Benjamin or somewhere else.

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Class of 2021 Prepares for New Moving-Up Ceremony