Moving on Up

Sidwell Friends’ newest classes of Middle and Upper Schoolers celebrate their latest milestone.

Triumph was in the air at the 4th grade Stepping Up ceremony, as the Class of ’30 sang Katy Perry’s “Firework” (“Baby, you’re a firework / Come on, show ’em what you’re worth!”). Before dancing, dabbing, and bowing their way across the stage, the new Middle Schoolers gave a standing ovation to their parents and teachers, honored tech and teaching guru Jenni Voorhees’s four-plus decades at Sidwell Friends, and announced their class gifts—one of which was for the World Wildlife Fund’s program to save arctic, red, fennec, and other foxes (“We know Star will especially appreciate this gift!”). Lower School Principal Adele Paynter noted that friends and relatives across the world were watching the ceremony via Zoom—including folks in Ghana, Romania, New Jersey, and even across town quarantining in a DC basement!

The 8th graders were also celebrating as they head off to the Upper School next fall. “You are beautiful people!” extolled Head of School Bryan Garman during the group’s last moments in Middle School. The Class of ’26 is rather remarkable: These kids have coped with the unspeakable loss of classmate Kieran Shafritz de Zoysa ’26 in the Easter bombing in Sri Lanka during their first year of Middle School, only to spend the next two Middle School years in distance or hybrid learning—and still they persevered. “Our teachers were the strong currents that pushed us through rough waters,” noted students from Teams Sky, Land, and Sea. There will undoubtedly be rigorous and challenging times ahead in Upper School, but maybe the waters will be just a bit calmer. Whatever happens, this class is ready to tackle it head on and come out on top.

As the new Middle Schoolers and Upper Schoolers prepare to switch divisions, their raw potential and Quaker spirits were evident as they took the stage and looked to the next chapter with expectant faces and huge smiles. The eternal wisdom of Katy Perry was on full display: “You just gotta ignite the Light / And let it shine.”


 

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