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Fifth Graders Complete an Amazing Journey

After six years in elementary school, 518 now former fifth graders are ready for the next step. Berner Middle School awaits the students, who were celebrated for their achievements at elementary moving up ceremonies from June 20 to 25.

From learning to read, write, add and subtract in kindergarten, to completing research projects and engineering challenges as fifth graders, the students have grown by leaps and bounds during their elementary years. Principals recognized that remarkable growth in their speeches and also highlighted the exemplary character of this group of students, who comprise Massapequa High School’s graduating Class of 2026.

“Being kind and smiling is a necessity, plain and simple,” Unqua Elementary School Principal Deanna Catapano said. “It’s hard to be down when you’re being kind. Your kindness is contagious which in turn, changes the world.”

The sentiment was echoed by students, including Kaitlyn M. from Birch Lane Elementary School, whose speech was inspired by the daily reminder from Principal Stephen Aspetti, “The most special acts of kindness are done when no one else is watching.”

“You don’t have to be rewarded for doing something kind. I now know that,” Kaitlyn said. “I just do something kind because it is the right thing to do and it feels great.”

Fairfield Elementary School fifth grader Cassidy B. said that she and her classmates have learned since kindergarten about the importance character.

“Having good character will stick with me in Berner and for the rest of my life,” she said. “Fairfield taught me life lessons that will be useful forever.”

McKenna Elementary School Principal Dr. Amanda Lowry told students that the secret to their success was working together, and encouraged them to enter middle school with that same spirit of teamwork. 

 “Simply by stepping forward together you will be able to do very well,” Dr. Lowry said. “Your new teachers are all ready for you. Have faith in yourselves and work hard. Simply wake up each day and try your best.”

East Lake Elementary School Assistant Principal Mary Velte did a little math, noting that it was 2,221 days from kindergarten orientation to the fifth grade moving up ceremony. She said that herself, Principal Thomas McKillop and the entire faculty and staff were so proud of their accomplishments during that time.

“Continue to be the role models and leaders we have known you to become for each and every student who has walked these hallways with you,” she said to the fifth graders. “Your friendly smiles are uplifting, your thirst for knowledge is undeniable and your spirit is contagious.”

Lockhart Elementary School student Alex Bartolo noted the “amazing journey” he and his classmates have been on for the last six years, making hundreds of memories. They will now carry their long-lasting friendships to Berner.

Superintendent Lucille Iconis noted that the backdrop on each stage included six banners, one for each elementary school, connected by a curved blue line to symbolize the schools coming together to form one graduating class. She asked the students to thank their teachers and family members who have supported them.

“We have high hopes and dreams for you,” Ms. Iconis said, before giving them a few “common sense” tips for the future including treating others with kindness and respect, and using failure as a learning opportunity.

The ceremonies featured awards presentations, musical selections and photo slideshows. It also marked the last moving up programs for Lockhart Principal Stephen Scarallo and Fairfield Principal Lori Dano, who are both retiring.