As the school year wound down under Coronavirus restrictions, officials at the Marco Island Charter Middle School were thinking about how the careers of their eighth-grade students would come to an end. They hoped to be able to bid them farewell in a big way.
“Over the past 9 weeks, while eighth–graders remotely were ending their 3 years of middle school, it didn’t seem right for us to keep them apart,” said outgoing Principal George Abounader. “We didn’t want to send them off to high school using a form of electronic communication such as email or text message. It would be too impersonal.”
The past 9 weeks have been tough for students and educators alike, with all of the challenges of distance learning. The staff missed the students and the students missed the staff. They wanted to see each other again. Abounader and his team came up with a way to make it happen.
“We missed our students,” Abounader said, “we wanted to bring them together one more time and bid them farewell in a more personal way.”
The middle school team put together an extravagant version of the car line, a ritual that is a big part of many students’ middle school careers.
“The car line mobile promotion ceremony gave all of us a chance to gather one last time as the class of 2020,” stated Abounader. “To make the wait in the car line more entertaining, we had two tall columns of balloons for the cars to pass through as they entered the campus. Plus, we had an honor row of signs alongside the balloon-decorated driveway with the name of each student who was being recognized for a special accomplishment posted on the signs.”
The graduates also had their names broadcast live on 88.1 FM by local announcer Tony DeLucia. An eighth-grade video was available on the school’s website and was played on a large screen in front of the gym for car passengers to enjoy. As the students wound their way through the long line, they were presented with an envelope by Abounader containing their promotion certificate, any other certificates and a Class of 2020 t-shirt. Many had their picture taken with the popular principal. The ceremony lasted 1 hour and 20 minutes.
Abounader was touched by the feedback he received from parents and students as he remarked, “We received some beautiful expressions from parents and students saying how grateful they were for the event.”