On May 23, 2019, we graduated our first class of eighth graders in our school’s history. The heartwarming commencement ceremony recounted each of the students’ transformational journeys and recognized the families, teachers, administrators, and fellow classmates who played a part in it.
The ceremony was a symbolic moment grounded in The Children’s School’s communal purpose — amplifying childhood. It fell on the exact same day three years after the Board of Trustees decided unanimously to expand through seventh and eighth grade in 2016 — a decision we made because we knew it would give our students, families, teachers, and community the unique opportunity to grow with us in a way that allows students to be more prepared, more self-aware, and more secure in who they are as learners and people.
When the graduates entered the room and Board Chair Fran Gary took the stage, the word she repeated to herself and the audience was “wow.” It was remarkable to see our community’s compassion, strength, and dedication come to fruition and later, reflected in what each student said as they stood proudly and gave their own speeches of discovery, triumph, and appreciation over the years.
“We’ve been a part of this community for 19 years and all of our children are here today to celebrate the end of our journey at TCS,” said TCS parent Tracy D’Alesio.
“I want to start from the beginning with one of our most vivid memories. It was the last day of school and at the end of the year party, in Dan & Michelle’s kindergarten class, and we noticed our oldest daughter Madison was crying. When we asked her why she was crying she said, ‘I don’t want to go away for summer break. I want to stay here and go to school.’ It was at that moment we knew this was truly a special place, and we felt privileged and lucky to be a part of this community. In fact, with all of our children and the many years we’ve been at TCS, not one of our kids ever said: ‘I don’t want to go to school today.’ I think that’s one of the highest compliments the school can get: kids that want to be there every day, growing, learning, and enriching their minds in a diverse environment full of life.”
Head of School Nishant Mehta encouraged the group of purpose-driven students to continue to learn bravely as they transitioned to high school. “The best you can do in this world and for the people that care for you and love you is to share [the] gifts you’ve been given and that have been so carefully nurtured here by so many. And every once in a while, let your reach exceed your grasp. Bite off more than you can chew. It’s okay. Those who tell you ‘no’ in those critical moments limit you before you’ve had a chance to discover it for yourself. But their limits don’t have to be yours,” he said.
These first-of-their-kind graduates leave behind a great legacy for future students to follow in their brave footsteps, which called for the beginning of special new traditions.
Pride of the Pack and Ba-Boom-Ba Awards
The Pride of the Pack Award is a new award given to a graduate for providing outstanding leadership to the Wolf Pack community. This year, the entire eighth-grade class won the award as an acknowledgment of how these student leaders led from all directions, set the bar high, and consistently surpassed the mark. This achievement will be awarded at each commencement ceremony going forward.
Nishant selected Gmorning, Gnight!: Little Pep Talks for Me & You by Lin-Manuel Miranda to give to the Pride of the Pack Award winners. The New York Times Bestseller from the creator and star of Hamilton is a book of affirmations to inspire readers at the beginning and end of each day. Each year, the book that is chosen and awarded to the award winner will be added to a special collection in the TCS library.
In addition to the Pride of the Pack Award, the Kathy Roberts’ Ba-Boom-Ba Award, which recognizes one graduate who upholds the values and ethos of service to The Children’s School community, was awarded to the fourth student in the award’s history, Gio D’Alesio.
Faculty/Staff Mentor Recognition
Faculty, staff, family, and friends who supported and/or mentored students were asked to stand when the graduate walked on stage to accept their diploma to demonstrate the amount of collaboration, effort, and love it takes to celebrate this special moment. The entire eighth-grade class instinctively and spontaneously stood for each other every time a classmate received a diploma.
“We’ve been with each other through these last three years, you know. We got really close while [traveling] in Puerto Rico, going on camping trips, and spending a lot of time together. I forgot what the words were exactly, but everyone was asked to stand if you played a part in that person’s educational journey, and we all thought that, yeah, we did,” said graduate Justin Clopton.
After all, the strength of the pack is the wolf, and the strength of the wolf is the pack. As Nishant said, “That is TCS’s legacy and gift to our graduates.”
The Children’s School Class of 2019 is particularly unique in big and little ways, from serving as the inaugural eighth-grade class to creating special chants and cheers to cherish amongst one another forever. To honor their huge accomplishment, eighth-grade teachers Todd and Suzanne taught the entire audience of family, friends, faculty, and staff one of their special cheers to send the graduates off: “Hooray, hooray, hooray, dab, yay!”
Congratulations, TCS Class of 2019!