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East Meadow Moving Up Ceremonies

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Despite schools being closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the five elementary schools of the East Meadow School District found a way to celebrate their fifth grade graduates. Throughout the month of June, the schools held drive-up graduation ceremonies for the students and their families.

At Barnum Woods Elementary School, music teacher Meegan Coleman delivered a stirring rendition of the national anthem, followed by an inspirational address from Assistant Principal Harriet Alfano. Also taking the podium were Principal Gregory Bottari and Matthew Melnick, the district’s board of education president and a Barnum Woods parent. Dr. Patrick Pizzo, the district’s assistant superintendent for business and finance, sent a special prerecorded message to students on behalf of Superintendent of Schools Dr. Kenneth A. Card, Jr. and the entire East Meadow School District cabinet.

Each student was then announced and stepped out of their cars to be applauded by all in attendance. Culminating the unique ceremony, the students drove with their families through the parking lot to receive their yearbooks from their beloved fifth grade teachers.

Parkway Elementary School held a separate ceremony for each of its fifth grade classes on June 12. The fifth grade committee decorated the parking lot with balloons and hired a DJ to provide the music. Bob Callan, the school’s head custodian, designed a stage that was easily seen and from which, could be heard from any spot in the parking lot, ensuring all attendees could enjoy the event.
Principal Jamie Mack, Assistant Principal Janine Farinella and each fifth grade teacher delivered meaningful speeches to the young graduates. Parkway PTA President Deanna Walsh announced the PTA awards, and an audio message from Dr. David Casamento, the district’s assistant superintendent for curriculum and Instruction, was shared.

Each graduate was called by name as they stepped out of their cars to the cheers of their fellow graduates. Attendees sang the fifth grade graduation song, "I'm on My Way" by Phil Collins, which was dedicated to Mr. Andre, a beloved school security guard who recently passed away. Parents and students concluded the ceremony with a fanfare of horn honks, cheers and waves.

Also, on June 12, Bowling Green Elementary School held an intimate graduation car parade ceremony in its front circle, which was decorated with personalized lawn signs for each student. As graduates arrived for the event, they were handed diplomas and a special gift from the school’s PTA. Principal Maria Ciarametaro delivered a welcoming speech, followed by an address from each class’s teacher. The graduates were then announced, exiting their vehicles one at a time to be celebrated. A video message from Dr. Card was shared at this ceremony as well. Finally, Assistant Principal Amelia Garcia shared a few words before introducing the fifth grade graduation song, “Have It All” by Jason Mraz.

Meadowbrook Elementary School worked up to its ceremony with two smaller events. On June 9, fifth grade teachers delivered caps and gowns to their students, and two days later, Principal Kelly Di Scalfani and Assistant Principal Meredith Broxmeyer visited students to deliver them boxes of goods and special letters. On June 15, the school hosted moving up ceremonies for each fifth grade class in the parking lot, which had been festively decorated by parents, teachers and administrators the day prior. Meadowbrook’s mascot, Meadow the Moose, greeted each graduate as they arrived.

Students were safely seated throughout the parking lot following social distancing guidelines. Ms. Di Scalfani, Mrs. Broxmeyer and each fifth grade teacher welcomed the students and presented awards. School staff members were also in attendance, bearing signs they had made to congratulate the fifth graders. A recorded message from Mr. Anthony Russo, assistant superintendent for personnel and administration, was played for the attendees. After the students had been announced and collected their diplomas, their graduation song was played over the loudspeaker as they exited the parking lot.

To round out the drive-up ceremonies, McVey Elementary School held moving up events for each of its five fifth grade classes on June 16. Although the format was unconventional, the students, parents and faculty relished the opportunity to have a proper closure to the school year. The event was highlighted by a performance of McVey’s new school song, which was written by the school’s talented music teacher Samantha Schick and the fifth graders. Also, a recorded message by Ms. Jennifer Frisenda, the district’s Assistant Business Administrator was played. The décor was accented with innovative balloon designs provided by Paola’s Balloon Creations.