Juneau fifth-grader Marlla Cabrigas-Blatnick beamed as she listened to teacher Thomas Schwartz make some personal remarks about her.
“Marlla is one of my most consistently positive students. She always greets me with a ‘Hi, Tom!’ Even when I present her with a question first thing in the morning, she responds with, ‘Hi, Tom!” Schwartz said, to audience laughter. “I used to think she was quiet and shy until I played dodgeball with her. Watch out. I was on the opposite team and she clobbered me. No mercy.”
The exchange was part of the Juneau Community Charter School’s “Moving On” ceremony Wednesday morning at Northern Light United Church. The ceremony is a charter school tradition honoring the students who are moving from one multi-age classroom to the next.
The charter school has 72 students this year in kindergarten through eighth grade. They’re divided into K-1, 2-3, 4-5 and 6-8 classrooms.
During the Moving On ceremonies that took place Tuesday and Wednesday, teachers shared comments and anecdotes about each first-, third-, fifth- and eighth-grade student to an audience of other charter school students, parents and teachers.
“It’s a chance for the students to feel honored,” said facilitating teacher Cynthia McFeeters on Wednesday.
The personalized comments emphasize the Juneau Community Charter School’s mission.
“It’s spending the time to get to know the whole child and who they are as a person, trying to give a bigger picture than, ‘This person did great in math,’” McFeeters said.
Throughout the ceremony, middle school students showcased music they’ve been learning in class. Two marimba groups performed under the direction of Betsy Sims and three band groups performed with the help of Rob Cohen.
One of the charter school’s middle school teachers Jenny Strumfeld recognized the parents sitting in the audience.
“I look out in the community and I see all this love and support and commitment to our kids. Thank you so much for coming and supporting our kids and making things happen,” she said. “You guys believe in us, and I thank you.”
After Wednesday’s ceremony, the students, teachers and parents went to Sandy beach for lunch.
The charter school’s ceremony and picnic is just one of several end-of-the-year activities taking place during the final days of the 2015/2016 school year. Other activities include fun runs, field days, tug of wars, promotion ceremonies and more musical performances.
This school year, the Juneau School District had 4,724 pre-kindergarten through 12th-grade students, said district spokesperson Kristin Bartlett. About 300 of them are fifth-graders advancing to middle school, roughly 350 eighth-graders are going into high school and about 330 seniors are graduating from the district.
The last day of school is Friday.
The first day of the 2016/2017 school year is Aug. 17 for first- through 12th-grade and Aug. 22 for kindergarten.