Eighth Graders Close Out a Unique Chapter

Eighth Graders Close Out a Unique Chapter

Perseverance was a major theme at Wantagh Middle School’s crossing-over ceremony on June 10, which celebrated the hard work of the district’s 209 eighth graders.

When they start high school in September, they’ll just be on the other side of the connecting overpass, and will have to get up a little earlier each morning. Middle School Principal Anthony Ciuffo is confident that they will succeed.

“The past three years have truly been unlike any three-year period in the history of middle school,” he said. “You all faced challenges, but you persevered and are now better because of it.”

Student reflections on middle school certainly focused on some aspects they never would have imagined when they entered sixth grade, such as virtual learning and quarantines. But by the time they reached eighth grade, there was a return to some normalcy, with clubs, sports, the student art show and end-of-the-year boat trip.

“If I had to choose one overall theme for seventh grade, it would be perseverance,” James DiCerbo said, describing the year as the quarantine hangover. “We adapted, both in the ways we learned and in the real world.”

Allie Reisert looked back upon sixth while Lana Lee reminisced about their eighth grade memories. Paul McHale, the final student speaker, focused on the four years ahead that are filled with endless possibilities.

“High school isn’t just about your studies,” he said. “It is about finding new experiences and meeting new people. As always, hard work will be the key to success…We will be making our way toward adulthood, which can be a scary step. But I know this class of students has all the skills necessary to step up to the challenge and conquer all that lies ahead in high school.”

Mr. Ciuffo presented students with their certificates as names were announced by Assistant Principal Dr. Stephanie Scolieri. The evening ceremony was held outdoors, with the middle school forming a “U” around them. 

For Mr. Ciuffo, the former principal of Forest Lake Elementary School, this group of eighth graders was special to him as they arrived in the middle school at the same time.  

“I have literally watched students in this group grow up from teeny tiny kindergartners, to confident fifth graders, and then I moved up with them as their middle school principal where I have been able to watch them continue to mature and grow for the past three years,” he said. “Seeing you, now nine years later, ready to move on to high school, is very surreal.”