Montclair’s Memorable Moving Up Ceremonies

Montclair’s Memorable Moving Up Ceremonies
Posted on 06/24/2020
While the end of the year did not look quite the same this June because of COVID-19, Montclair schools made the best of it with heartwarming and personal tributes to the students who are rising up and moving up. All around the district, students and families were treated to special virtual ceremonies and one last opportunity to visit their schools. Below is just a sampling.


Bradford’s Kindergarteners came to school one last time (at a social distance) for their “graduation.”

teachers in front of school  kindergarten graduation sign
Ms. Bailey's and Ms. Metzinger's students were greeted by staff when they came to pick up their diplomas.

kindergarteners in masks  teachers in masks

Kindergarten graduation for the students in Dr. Cahill’s class. "Congratulations to the students and their families! We even got to celebrate Ms. Jenna’s and Dr. Cahill’s graduations from Montclair State University," said Principal Naomi Kirkman.

Fifth graders at Bradford were unable to participate in an in-person Moving Up Ceremony, but students and families enjoyed a virtual ceremony which included a photo of each child and a written favorite memory.  “I am very proud of their resilience in the face of the reality of finishing their fifth-grade year at home,” said Kirkman.

graduation t-shirt  decorated car

family gathers in front of school  school yearbooks
Students also enjoyed fanfare as they came to school to pick up their diplomas, t-shirts and yearbooks.

Buzz Aldrin Middle School
Buzz Aldrin celebrated with a virtual Moving Up ceremony. “Thank you to the very talented Brian Lacivita, Jamie Scala, and Stephanie Drozd for their hard work and countless hours spent on this amazing virtual tribute to our kids,” said Principal Jill Sack. “Thank you also to Taylor Mandel, Jen Kosuda, Jessica Mintz, and Shivan Persad, and to everyone else who sent photos, shared ideas, or assisted in some way.”

teachers with graduation sign  graduation sign
Eighth grade advisors Stephanie Drozd and Jamie Scala set up signs in front of Buzz Aldrin Middle School.

Charles H. Bullock
Clap outs, salutations and best wishes from the 5th grade staff, individual recognition of each 5th grader. These are all traditions of the Moving Up Ceremony at Charles H. Bullock School. And even with the challenges of remote learning, they were still a part of the celebration of the 5th grade class of 2020. “It was important to give our students a send-off that was as close to the real thing as possible,” said Bullock Principal Nami Kuwabara. “They worked so hard through the quarantine and missed out on all end of year activities and milestone moments. It was the least we could do.”

The 5th grade team of teachers (Ms. Kaup, Mr. Khan, Ms. Mason, Mr. McGrath, Ms. Tirador, Ms. Torres, and Ms. Whang, Ms. Woschinko), paras (Ms. Crawford, Mr. Dillon, Ms. Hardin, Ms. Holtz, Mr. Hulin, Ms. Jacobs, Ms. Lay, Mr. McGriff, Ms. Stewart), along with School Counselor Lauren Gutierrez, Supervisor of Curriculum and Instruction Brenda Coe, and Principal Kuwabara all contributed to making the 2020 5th Grade Moving Up Ceremony the best it could be.

A video was produced, which included a clap out from Bullock students and staff, best wishes to the graduates from the 5th grade team and other staff members, individual photos of every graduate taken next to a 2020 Bullock Moving Up Lawn Sign, and an inspirational message from Principal Kuwabara.

principal waves to student  student waves from car

student paints sign  staff waves to student

“We also celebrated the students as they drove up to retrieve personal belongings,” said Principal Kuwabara.  Each student  was handed by Principal Kuwabara their Moving Up certificate, yearbook and lawn sign while teachers and staff clapped for them. “The Bullock staff came together to produce a memorable Moving Up Ceremony, one the Class of 2020 certainly deserved,” said Principal Kuwabara.

This year's Moving Up Ceremony for Edgemont's 5th graders was unique, to say the least. On Friday, June 19, students and their families tuned in to a Webex meeting with Principal Jeffrey Freeman, teachers and staff members. After a few words from Mr. Freeman, a pre-recorded, modified Moving Up Ceremony was broadcast. The ceremony was complete with the Pledge of Allegiance, Star-Spangled Banner and a rendition of Lift Ev'ry Voice performed by Edgemont's students.

Following opening remarks by Mr. Freeman, the Student Speaker, a former Edgemont student and current 6th grader from Glenfield offered advice to students on starting middle school. Next, our 5th grade teachers, Mrs. Passamano and Mrs. Sheehan said a few words filled with encouragement, pride and a touch of sadness as they said good-bye to their students. The presentation of the Class of 2020 included names, announced by Mr. Freeman, along with a picture of each student. Music teacher Mr. Mellman said a few words followed by a performance of Edgemont's School Song by some 5th graders and their families. The ceremony continued with a slideshow of memories from events over the course of school year before it was interrupted. Mr. Freeman closed the ceremony with some words of encouragement and advice for our "graduating" 5th graders.

teachers in front of school

On Saturday, June 20, teachers and staff waved and clapped from the circle of Edgemont School as students and their families drove by in a socially distant "processional." Students were met at the end of the driveway by their 5th grade team of teachers to receive certificates, a gift bag, and to snap a quick picture with their teachers. Unconventional? Yes, but still a wonderful way to see off the Class of 2020!

teachers give out diplomas  teachers pose for pic
Edgemont teachers await students.


Hillside held a Google Meet “Watch Party” for the students to gather and watch the prerecorded video Moving Up ceremony together. “We had over 200 participants join the Google Meet to watch the ceremony!” said Principal Samanthaa Anglin. All students were muted, however, they had the opportunity to add comments and cheer each other on. The prerecorded video also streamed for those family and friends near and far to watch in real time. Over 400 viewers watched the live stream and over 600 family and friends cheered on Hillside’s 5th Graders.

Nishuane School celebrated its 2nd graders with a Virtual Moving Up Celebration. The celebration shared of a powerful message – each of our actions and efforts can make a difference. Through a walk down memory lane (i.e first friendships, first production, etc.), the learning community reflected on where they started and how they've grown to the amazing young learners they are today! The principals imparted wisdom about learning from mistakes and taking risks, while also acknowledging the strong partnerships formed between home and school. Each 2nd grade teacher began their student introductions by sharing a special and unique message to their class, highlighting the strong learning communities established over the course of the school year and how this historic spring further highlighted their ability to persevere and succeed. Prior to a scrolling screen of our 2nd grade super stars' names, a slideshow of memories and candid moments helped to bring everyone together.

Like the other elementary schools, Watchung held a virtual ceremony. Following remarks from Principal Patrick Krenn, several students spoke about their experiences at Watchung. That was followed by photos of each of the graduates and ended with candid snapshots of the students.

graduation signs
Watchung's front lawn was decorated with signs honoring each student moving up to middle school.
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