Middle schools celebrate 8th graders
Posted on 05/29/2020
8th grader poses with participation certificate

Eighth-graders leaned out of windows, waved, smiled shyly and watched wide-eyed during an unprecedented set of car parades and moving-up ceremonies hosted by schools around OCPS over the past two weeks. A variety of middle and K-8 schools in the district made this moment special for students who are heading off to high school. Here are highlights from a few:

OCPS ACE shirt says "If nobody told you they loved you today, Ms. Ivory loves you!"At OCPS Academic Center for Excellence, families in vehicles paraded through the school’s garage and got surprise gifts at each table on Wednesday, May 27, the last official day of school. At one, graduating Lions were given royal purple T-shirts bearing Principal Wendy Ivory’s catchphrase: “If nobody told you they loved you today, Ms. Ivory loves you!”

“That is my saying that I tell them over the intercom every day,” Ivory explained. “If I don’t say it, they have a fit.” 

The eighth-graders were also sent off with a yearbook, a certificate of completion, a boxed lunch from Jason’s Deli and a decadent cupcake topped with deep purple frosting and edible, golden shavings.

Principal Becky Watson poses with an 8th grade boy (socially-distanced)At Walker Middle, teachers and faculty members lined the bus loop with signs, waving at a car line that ran for three hours nonstop. Music played as staff gave out yearbooks, t-shirts and a special certificate to the eighth-graders. Principal Watson posed for more than 200 photos. 

The event helped lift spirits for the adults, too.

“We needed to see their faces and celebrate,” Watson said. “The feelings of pride and celebration for one afternoon overshadowed the sadness that creeps in when we hear the bell ring at school but no shuffling feet. We are grateful we could have this interaction with them, even from a distance.”

College Park Middle School combined a drive-by with an online ceremony on Thursday, May 28. Teachers also recorded goodbye messages for students, one with her dog and another with stacks of candy he never got to give out to students.

One teacher, Dr. Natalie Ford, sang part of “It’s So Hard to Say Goodbye to Yesterday” to students. She had a special message for the eighth-graders. “I love you. I know that you are well-prepared. At College Park Middle School, I’m still here for you, whatever you need. You take care. You’ve got this.”

And at one school, the first-ever class of eighth-graders was saying goodbye. At Horizon West Middle, staffers set up yard signs and hosted a car parade. Many families decorated their vehicles with window paint and balloons. Teachers made posters and waved alongside the school Hornet mascot.

“One thing we have all learned is that our Hornets are resilient and take on challenges head on,” Principal Michelle Thomas said.