On Friday, June 9, Waterside School held its most special event of the year: "Stepping Up and Graduation." Students from all classes were officially promoted to the next grade level, and 14 fifth graders and six early-admission fourth graders represented Waterside's twelth graduating class.
In keeping with school tradition, awards were presented throughout the ceremony, including medals to acknowledge students who were "Homework Shining Stars" this year. Sofia Castaneda won Waterside's most distinguished award- The "Kruger Cup," which recognizes a graduate who embodies the school's commitment to academic achievement and character development. Finally, Waterside's own LaVandra DuPree was recognized for her 13 years of service and dedication to Waterside School, as both a parent of a Waterside alumna and a longstanding faculty member.
Each of the classes took to the stage to perform for the community. Additionally, Parent Council President, Sardia Watson, presented the school with a check for $50,000, all of which came from fundraisers led by Waterside families. The fifth grade graduates then reflected upon their time at Waterside, emphasizing their goal to "Wear the Waterside W" with pride, and represent their families, teachers, and friends of the school wherever they may go. The students thanked Mr. Kruger, Mr. Edwards, and Mrs. Visage for their vision, and, in keeping with the school's daily lunch blessing, concluded their reflection by promising to, "honor the dream of the school with always (their) fullest and finest efforts."
In addition to the graduates' reflections, Nina Hanlon, Director of Enrollment and Financial Aid at Greenwich Academy, gave a truly inspiring commencement address. Explaining her background as one of a handful of students of color at a private school, Ms. Hanlon discussed her passion for equity and access. She went on to remark on the gifts that Waterside students bring with them to their next schools, and coined a new catchphrase: "The Waterside Glow." She concluded her remarks by urging the graduates to go after every opportunity- especially the ones that seem most challenging.
This fall, Waterside's class of 2017 will matriculate at some of the finest independent schools in the area, all with scholarships. Still, it was clear from the graduates' thoughtful reflections and Ms. Hanlon's commencement speech that Waterside students will always be thankful for the support and foundation that Waterside has given them.