A Joyful Sendoff to the Class of 2029

It would be easy to think that the first 4th grade promotion ceremony to be held on the DC campus wouldn’t actually be all that exciting—after all, in-person learning for the class of 2029 has been on the Middle School campus all year to free up space for social distancing at the Lower School campus. The smiles and waves shared between parents and students, though, reflected the kind of excitement that only comes when something new is in the air.

In addition to being the first 4th grade class to have their ceremony on the DC campus, the class enjoyed another first—when the School re-opened to hybrid learning, for a time they were the only ones on the campus at all.

“You led the school in coming to the campus early,” Head of School Bryan Garman told the class, mentioning how hearing them was one of the first signs that meant things were returning to normal. He also commended the students on their handling of the pandemic: “Two things got you through this crisis,” he said. “Kindness and gratitude.”

Lower School Principal Adele Paynter spoke to the class, congratulating them on completing “the longest and the shortest year to have ever happened.” She read a poem composed by the Lower School faculty called “You Rose,” inspired by Maya Angelou’s “Still I Rise,” that celebrated the students’ determination to “rise and decide that we will make a difference to each other and to the world.” Paynter then spoke to the class about the lessons they learned over the past year—the most important of which weren’t academic. “You have learned that when the path is dark, you can light the way,” she said. “You have learned that when the world seems broken, you have the power to change it.”

To end the ceremony, the Lower School faculty showed a video performance of them singing “Rainbow” by Kacey Musgraves. While outside it was certainly more rain than rainbow, thanks to the joy of the students and those who were there to cheer them on, inside felt nothing but sunny as the newest Sidwell Friends Middle Schoolers looked forward to brighter days ahead.

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