At Thursday’s grade 8 promotion ceremony, the Class of 2025 formally concluded its journey as middle schoolers and began preparing to transition to the upper school. Middle school division head Evan Barth welcomed leadership council officers Aaron Bao and Sam Parupudi to speak to the departing eighth graders.
Parupudi thanked her classmates for helping her grow as a person during her time in the middle school. “You all have encouraged me to make so many decisions that I wouldn’t have even considered had I not been through these experiences with you,” she said. “You all have made more of an impact on my life than you or even I will ever know of, and I’d just like to take this opportunity to thank you for that.”
Bao expressed confidence that he and his fellow soon-to-be ninth graders would meet the challenges ahead and thanked teachers and parents for their guidance and support. “Our teachers are the ones who have laid the foundation of our learning and the ones who have supported us in our endeavors. Our parents have supported us throughout our entire lives in everything we have done,” he said. “Thank you to all who have had the patience to help us pursue our goals.”
Following the Middle School String Quartet’s performance of Handel’s “La Rejouissance,” Rebecca Williams, middle school English teacher and Class of 2025 dean, delivered her farewell address. Williams summarized the students’ many extraordinary accomplishments over the past year, particularly their ability to adapt to unprecedented circumstances, which made clear the importance of finding new solutions to new problems. “We in fact need to do things differently because the new normal is no longer the normal that we left behind,” she said. “So as you enter high school and you start kicking around that question, ‘what are you going to do?’ Maybe you do something differently, because you’ve proven you can. And in doing it differently, maybe you show that it can be done better.”
The Middle School Jazz Band then performed Duke Ellington’s “Take the A Train,” and rising senior Dawson Chen, who is also the 2021-22 upper school ASB president, took the podium to deliver a welcome address to the incoming freshman class. Chen shared a pair of stories about the lessons he learned at middle school, one in which the results of an algebra test taught him the value of studying and hard work. “The experience of middle school math classes has instilled in me a notion of working hard and taking no shortcuts,” he said. The second story involved a movie night with his friends, where after witnessing them devour the treats he had helped prepare, he “couldn’t help but marvel at the cheerful, cozy atmosphere that we managed to create together with the power of community.” He called up on the Class of 2025 to reflect on their fondest memories as middle schoolers, “whether it’s cramming your expository writing essays, winning in an epic sports game or going to your first dance, and share those memories with the friends, teachers, coaches and family that you experienced them with.”
Students then each received their promotion certificates from Head of School Brian Yager. Barth then offered his closing remarks, saying, “The status quo can work, but I encourage you to be observant and seek out changes that will make you happy and happier. I am confident that is an effective strategy for you to get the most out of high school and beyond, and I hope you will embrace it.”