Songs, poems, and awards filled the Bedford Hills Elementary School auditorium as 40 smiling fifth graders participated in their moving up ceremony.
"I'm excited for more opportunities," says Ellie Murphy, 11, of Bedford Hills, referring to attending Fox Lane Middle School in the fall. "It's a bigger campus, and we get to rotate classes," she said.
The ceremony alternated between the students singing, and speeches or award presentations with the graduates playing a very big role in their special day. The students practiced their speeches and songs until they got them perfect, said Alesandra Gasper, 10, of Bedford.
A different student introduced every song or speaker, including the sentimental song, "For Good" from the broadway show, Wicked, and a motivational speech from the school's principal, Zbyneck Gold, of Somers.
In his speech he wished for the students to "remember the lessons that your teachers have modeled for you each day."
"I encourage all of them to take advantage of every opportunity," said Gold, "and to step out of their comfort zones." He has been with the class of 2011 since they were in second grade and noted how close the small group had become.
Gold also recalled that the students together accomplished completing the middle school ropes course, and when he referenced the "flying squirrel," the students laughed knowingly.
The principal said he hoped that bringing the outing up reminded the students to trust themselves and each other.
Parents filled the seats of the auditorium—camcorders and videos in hand—and cheered for sons and daughters as they received moving up certificates.
Moving up to middle school is major milestone in a child's life, said Bobbi Bittker, mother of fifth-grade graduate Jordana. "They think they are so old but they're really not," said Bittker, who was watching her second child move up from BHES. "Moving up to the middle school is more of a beginning then an end."
"I'm excited to make new friends," says Alice Walsh, 11, of Katonah. She said she knew that middle school would be filled with many new faces, but she'd always remember her time at BHES—especially a favorite trip to the Bronx Zoo in the third grade.
As the students proceeded from the stage after singing "Headin' for the Future," BHES's school song, they marched to the cafeteria to snack on celebratory cake and snap photos with parents and faculty.
"They've been a small group together since kindergarten," says 5th grade teacher Michelle Nigro, of Yorktown Heights, commenting on how much of a tight community the graduating class is.
"The kids are beautiful, they've grown to care for each other and they've made it easy for the teachers to love them" she added.