Tuesday, June 15, 2021

Girls, Guys and Graduates Make the Grade in Collier County

Remember those exciting last days leading up to the close of the school year? The anticipation of no assignments for a while, sleeping in, getting together with friends and doing what you want to do each day, well, sometimes! The beach, surfing, volleyball, kayaking, summer school – oh yeah, for some ambitious students, they’ll be taking summer classes at our local colleges and technical colleges and working to help with the tuition, books and other costs.

It has been my honor as a Collier County School Board member to attend several Academic Competitions, Moving Up Ceremonies, Music Programs, Academic Signings and Graduations in the last month. Sharing in the joy and pride from families, teachers and administrators for our Collier County Public School students is invigorating and those memories will last forever. Here are a few special moments to share the inspiration with you.

A third-grade choral concert was presented at Osceola Elementary School to the delight of the parents/grandparents/siblings that attended. The third graders punctuated the Schoolhouse Rock concert with songs played on their flute-like recorders and engaging motions to accompany their songs.

The Immokalee Middle School eighth graders had their awards presented in the auditorium at Immokalee High School in front of proud parents and siblings. The eighth grade teachers greeted and hugged their students as they crossed the stage in front of a photo show depicting events from the year. The devotion between teachers, administrators and students was sincere; a bond that would not be broken.

The Noetic Math Challenge Regional Tournaments, one for middle school students and one for elementary students, is a multi-step problem-solving challenge that involves individual efforts and team communication to solve the problems. As you can see from the photos, you can almost hear the brains working; there’s lots of concentration going on.

Gulf View Middle School had a standing room only crowd for the presentation of awards for three different grade levels, each a separate assembly on the same night – now that’s a dedicated administrative team and staff. I enjoyed the sixth grade event as they stood on the stage with their awards while the cameras and phones clicked away and I met some wonderfully supportive parents.

Marco Island Academy had their Awards Night for Seniors at the Marco Island Historical Society Rose Hall on May 22nd. Scholarships were plentiful. Several students were barely back in their seats before they were recognized again. Assistant Principal Amber Richardson conducted the program with Principal Melissa Scott and Dean Kevin Ray who added their congratulations and humor to the event.

The New Beginnings Program held their promotion program at Lorenzo Walker Technical High School. Students who achieved an upward change in rank were honored as well as those adults who contributed volunteer hours in support of the students. Miss Dottie, the volunteer choral director and friend to all, was recognized again for her dedication, expertise and hours donated to help the students.

Manatee Elementary School (MES) celebrated their progress with The Leader in Me program by having a reunion – 25 years since MES opened – with invitations to previous staff members, songs with motions, the Manatee Middle School band and the selection of items for the Time Capsule. Surprises included a huge symbolic cake and the Media Center filled with the past 25 years of history, including all the t-shirts that were ever created for MES students.

The Manatee Middle School eighth grade held their Award Recognition at Lely High School which started with the presentation of colors by the Lely High School Junior ROTC who were disciplined and honored our flag. It was another standing-room only event with parents, relatives and friends there to honor the students “moving on” to high school. Principal Jennifer Bledsoe explained the Time Capsule that was filled with examples of life in 2019, would be opened in 10 years.

On the 24th, Highlands Elementary School (HES) held their very special annual Leadership Day and invited teachers and administrators from all over the school district to witness how they have integrated The Leader in Me into everything they do at HES. The students and teachers were enthusiastic about their own leadership opportunities, including students who introduced the programs and gave speeches about how aspects of The Leader in Me have affected their lives.

This third grade team from Osceola took first place at the Noetic Math Challenge.

Lely High School held their graduation in the gym because it accommodates more people than the auditorium. The event was televised to the people farthest from the stage so they could see clearly. It was nostalgic for me because many of the graduating seniors also attended Tommie Barfield Elementary when I was their Principal so awarding them their diplomas brought their education full circle, K-12 – for now!

Village Oaks Elementary in Immokalee conducted a lovely ceremony for the fifth graders with praise and awards. After the students received their certificates for various achievements, they gathered on the stage to allow their families to take photos. I was mesmerized by a wall in the cafeteria where the event took place that the art teacher created. Here’s a photo of the self-portraits and a short passage that one of the students wrote.

Tommie Barfield Elementary (TBE) held their Moving Up Ceremony on May 30th to launch the fifth graders to new horizons in middle school. Awards presented to students included the Presidential Excellence Award, Presidential Achievement Award, Academic Excellence Award, Certificate of Achievement, Perfect Attendance, Related Arts, Citizenship Awards, and Accelerated Reader Awards. After the awards and medals were presented to students, they shook hands with dignitaries on the stage and exited. After the ceremony, there was cake and drinks provided by the TBE PTO along with various areas for photo ops. At the conclusion, parents and students moved to the hallways for the annual Clap Out, the last “official” event the fifth graders participate in before becoming official middle school students.

And now, we close the 2018-19 school year with recognitions, tributes, words of wisdom and nostalgia because we’ve shared our time and love with these students. Through the smiles and the tears, we realize they need to move on – to more achievement, discovery and success and we wish them the very best.

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