Sixth grade graduates from across Valley Stream District 30 made history by moving up to middle school in a completely new way this year. As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, Clear Stream Avenue, Forest Road and Shaw Avenue schools hosted virtual commencement ceremonies on the district website and celebrated the Class of 2020 with special socially distant, in-person events to present diplomas and other items such as report cards, yearbooks and awards.
During the virtual commencement exercises, Board President Kenneth Cummings praised the graduates and wished them the best of luck in middle school. Superintendent of Schools Dr. Nicholas Stirling followed by sharing how special the Class of 2020 is.
“Beyond being the class that survived the pandemic during their last year of elementary school, you are also a special class because you have learned how to be a good friend to others, care for the community and help those in need of an extra hand. You have also learned how to be honest, respectful to others and how to forgive. These are life lessons that I hope you will always remember and carry with you into middle school.”
Although the students could not be together for a traditional ceremony, each school kept the musical piece of the ceremony alive by having each graduate perform and record a video of them singing the same song at home. The videos were edited together for a special performance. In addition, the virtual ceremonies featured photos of each graduate as they were announced, along with congratulatory remarks and words of advice from building principals, PTA presidents, and some of the sixth graders.
“I strongly believe that we should not dwell on what we missed at the end of sixth grade, but cherish the memories that we were able to make and look forward to the ones we have ahead of us in seventh grade,” said Forest Road graduate Ethan Ali.
To continue honoring the Class of 2020, each school held drive-through celebrations. Central administrators including Superintendent Dr. Stirling, building administrators, staff and PTA members held signs and cheered on the sixth graders as they arrived at their respective school in decorated vehicles to receive their diplomas. Although it was not the traditional graduation event that each school typically holds, everyone embraced the change with smiles on their faces as the sixth graders prepared to take on the next step of their academic careers.