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Fifth Graders Move On Equipped for Success

As they prepare to take the next step in their education, fifth graders in the Massapequa School District are leaving elementary school with a solid foundation of knowledge, exemplary character, great friends and many special memories.

The students were celebrated for their achievements at moving-up ceremonies from June 21-23. Each program reflected the unique character of the six elementary schools.

Most of the ceremonies were held at Berner Middle School or Massapequa High School, but at McKenna Elementary School, a former junior high with its own auditorium, fifth graders were able to say “goodbye” at the same place they said “hello” to each other as kindergartners.

“We think it is clear that without fear you have stepped forward into the future together,” Principal Dr. Amanda Lowry said in her address to the students. “This approach works no matter what stage you are at in your education. You took this approach right from the start.”

Fairfield Elementary School’s ceremony featured congratulatory remarks from Principal Dr. Kristi Gerhard and Assistant Principal Megan Pavlick, but it also featured reflection from student speakers. Laila McCravey explained that she and her classmates learned how to be “bucket fillers” – brightening everyone else’s day with kindness and respect – and will take that lesson with them going forward.

“At Fairfield, I learned how to be a great student, classmate, friend, person and role model,” said Brady Hunt, reminiscing on different elementary school moments such as hatching baby chicks in first grade, unexpected virtual learning at the end of third grade and fun field trips this past year.

Fairfield’s ceremony closed out with students donning “2022” sunglasses and stepping onto the risers to sing Natasha Bedingfield’s “Unwritten.”

The largest fifth grade class in Massapequa with more than 100 students was from Birch Lane Elementary School. The soon-to-be middle schoolers were led in by the student color guard while “Pomp and Circumstance” played. The ceremony also featured several awards, the presentation of certificates and several musical selections including the Birch Lane school song, “Slow Down” by Nichole Nordeman, in a special dedication to parents.

At East Lake Elementary School, Principal Thomas McKillop and Assistant Principal Mary Velte gave their well wishes to students and noted the positive contributions they made during their six years there. The ceremony featured numerous awards for academics, the arts, attendance and citizenship and service, such as their participation in Safety Patrol and Students Against Destructive Decisions.

Unqua Elementary School Principal Deanna Catapano congratulated the elementary Class of 2022 and the future Massapequa High School Class of 2029. She reminded them to carry with them both the knowledge they have gained and their good hearts.

“Most importantly you have learned how to be kind,” she said. “You have all shown us that you are kind young adults from the little gesture you show to the bigger acts of kindness you have displayed over the years.”

Dr. Michael Yannucci, principal of Lockhart Elementary School, noted that this group of students has experienced a lot over the past three years, but as fifth graders they enjoyed the return of field trips, in-person events and other traditions.

“The last couple of years has shown us that life requires flexibility, patience and grace,” he said. “We all have ideas of what ‘perfect’ is, but what you should all remember is there is no perfect. Your perfect is somebody else’s imperfect. Rather than think in terms of perfect or not, ask yourself, ‘Am I growing? Am I still learning?’”