Guy Benjamin School sixth graders, above, gathered on the steps outside of the Emmaus Moravian Church just before their promotion exercise on Thursday, June 16.
Proud Guy Benjamin School teachers, faculty and parents packed the Emmaus Moravian Church on Thursday morning, June 16, to watch 16 sixth graders graduate from the small Coral Bay public elementary school.
The promotional exercise was an emotional ceremony as it was the last one led by GBS Principal Dionne Wells before she takes over at the Julius E. Sprauve School in the fall.
“This is my last promotional exercise as principal of GBS,” said Wells. “I want to highlight the accomplishments of this sixth grade. This class was the first ballroom dancing champions in 2009.”
“This class had the highest VITAL score in Math,” Wells said. “Also, I must point out that the entire sixth grade class is being promoted. That serves as a testament to their potential.”
Wells also shared some words of advice with the graduates.
“Learn as much as you can,” she said. “No one can take from you what you know. If you short-change your education, you will be short of change the rest of your life.”
The GBS principal had some advice for parents in the audience as well.
“Parents are the backbone of children,” said Wells. “Be their mentors, their nurturers and cheerleaders. Visit and volunteer at their schools.”
“Show that you support them always,” she said.
Wells also took time to send a personal message to the crowd at the graduation.
“Community involvement is crucial to the success of any school,” she said. “I want to thank all who made my years at GBS so special. Thank you very much.”
In his remarks, Department of Education Deputy Superintendent Joseph Sibilly said the department is proud of Wells and what she has accomplished at GBS.
“I am always excited to come out here,” said Sibilly. “We are proud of Miss Wells and her staff; they are an example of the success of this school. GBS you have put yourselves on the map.”
“We are proud to have Miss Wells move on to JESS, to a bigger school,” he said. “We look forward to having her there. JESS will continue to do well under the leadership of Miss Wells.”
Sibilly also pointed out a special member of the audience in attendance.
“I am happy to see that Mr. Browne, who will be taking over at GBS, is here today,” said Sibilly. “He has many years of experience and I know his efforts will continue here at GBS.”
Second honor student Maeven Parsil learned more than just academics at GBS, she explained.
“I also learned kindness and respect,” Parsil said. “The students are all friends here and there are so many activities. GBS has been a great base for us to start our educations.”
First honor student Marissa Muilenburg offered a philosophical perspective on the ending of elementary school for her fellow graduates.
“We are all sad to leave GBS, but when one door closes another one opens,” said Muilenburg. “We will all have other great schools to attend.”
Muilenburg also shared some memories from her years at GBS before celebrating with her classmates.
“We did it,” she said.
Guest speaker Kamaria Penn, who graduated from GBS in 2002, told the students to remain focused on their education despite the distractions sure to come their way over the next few years.
Tears of joy from parents and well-wishers were mixed with tears of sadness as teachers and faculty members bid farewell to Wells with a special song before the GBS sixth grade class of 2011 exited the church looking forward to seventh grade.