8th-grade grads ‘distant, still together’

Eighth grade “grads” Lillie Stepp (left) and Haley Ross celebrate their promotion from the back of a red truck driven by Lillie’s dad, Jack Stepp. CMS STAFF PHOTO

Like their high school counterparts, this year’s Creswell Middle School 8th-graders couldn’t “graduate” with their friends, with their traditional ceremony and parent-sponsored party.

Still, while maintaining social distance with individual promotions, the 107 members of this class were still together in their hearts.

It was a sentiment reflected in their promotion ceremony theme, “Distant … But Still Together,” and the red hearts bearing 8th-graders’ names that decorated the baseball field backstop fence. Members of the high school Class of 2024 arrived during scheduled “drive-in” promotion times on June 3-4.

A festive balloon arch – green and gold on the left for the CMS Tigers, red and black on the right for Creswell High School – framed the school entrance, representing the transition from middle to high school.

Only the student was permitted to exit their family’s vehicle to collect their promotion and any award certificates, don their new Bulldog T-shirt – with “Distant … But Still Together” and class members’ names on the back – over the shirt they were already wearing and pose for a photo taken by CMS staff. Grads also received pizza gift cards.

“This is not the way we wanted to celebrate” CMS’ 8th-grade Class of 2020, said principal Shirley Burrus, who is retiring and so was bidding farewell to her final set of graduates. “We all really miss seeing and being with the students. We didn’t have an opportunity to say goodbye in person – but thank goodness for Zoom; at least we were able to still see each other a couple times a week.”

On June 9, a “Distant … But Still Together” video promotion ceremony, designed to mirror the school’s usual way of honoring 8th-graders as much as possible, was released on the school district’s website and CMS Facebook page.

Compiled by choir teacher Erik Telfer, the video included a welcome from Burrus, the CMS Choir singing the National Anthem (recorded earlier in the year), the presentation of Academic Excellence (3.75-4.0 GPA), Academic Achievement (3.5-3.74 GPA), Most Improved and Perfect Attendance awards, and individual slideshows each 8th-grader had created using one to five personal photos, followed by “just a bunch of fun photos with the arch and other things,” Burrus said.

In closing, Burrus quoted Steve Prefontaine in encouraging the Class of 2024 to “chase their dreams” and “not waste the gifts” they’ve been given.”



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