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Through the Lens of the Graduating Class: Reflection, Reminiscence, and Preparation for Life After Washington MontessoriWashington Montessori School
New Preston, Connecticut

The 8th grade class studying outside

As the school year draws to a close, we prepare to say goodbye to our eldest WMS students. It’s a nuanced time for the 8th graders, filled with remembrance, excitement, and anticipation. For their middle school peers and the WMS faculty and staff, the feelings are just as complex, ranging from enthusiastic celebration of their many achievements to anticipating just how much the class of 2024 will be missed. 

In the spirit of capturing this bittersweet moment, we spent some time reflecting on their journey this school year and the future awaiting them after graduation.

Highlights from the Class of 2024’s last year

When the 8th-grade students returned to school after summer break, they did so as newly promoted leaders of our student body. They took this newfound responsibility seriously from the start and continued to grow in this role throughout the year. 

During the Outdoor Education trip, the 8th graders showed the new middle school students the ropes (literally and figuratively) and helped quash any nerves with warm welcomes and friendly advice. This is an important bonding experience for the middle school and the 8th graders did a wonderful job establishing a strong sense of community within the group.

In the fall, the 8th graders each completed one-week internships. Whether working in direct marketing, construction, or the beauty industry, the pursuit of real-life work allowed them to apply what they learned about themselves to the wider world in a tangible and meaningful way. 

The middle school play, Circus Olympus, provided an opportunity for the 8th-grade students to shine both on the stage and behind the scenes. Henry, Emery, Finley, Summer, Michael, Nick, Lisette, Isabella, and Tallulah all had significant roles in the play; their acting chops, comedic timing, and mastery of memorization were on full display. Narolyn, Neo, and Naomi helped produce the show, deploying their poise and professionalism to keep things running smoothly.

At the end of February, the 8th graders shared their Expert Projects during the Expert Symposium, the culmination of a ten-week period of intensive research and advanced writing. They presented on a wide variety of science-based topics with passion, grace, and confidence, and handled the subsequent Q&A sessions with authority and insight. 

In April, after weeks of careful planning and preparation, the 8th grade embarked on a scientific trip to Wilmington, NC. They analyzed water samples with the Cape Fear River Watch, explored museums, and visited the Karen Beasley Sea Turtle Rescue and Rehabilitation Center where they learned about their important work and spent some doing a simulated turtle rescue. During their downtime, they played games of Jenga, enjoyed top-notch barbecue, and spent time reflecting on their experience together at WMS.

A group of students at a barbecue restaurant

Another highlight from the spring was the 2024 Troutbeck Symposium, a student-led educational forum designed to highlight research into the local and regional histories of diverse communities. In anticipation of Troutbeck, the 8th graders created, hosted, and produced their very own podcast, Connecticut Unraveled. The nine-episode podcast features their research into forgotten chapters of Connecticut’s history, unraveling the stories of enslaved individuals, marginalized communities, and unsung allies. Fellow attendees of the Troutbeck Symposium were extremely impressed by the breadth and depth of their research and the confidence with which they presented. 

Throughout the course of the year, the 8th graders participated in a wide variety of immersions and athletic teams. They continually demonstrated their mastery of skills, assisted their peers and teammates, and led by the example of their work ethic, encouragement, and kindness. 

Athletic highlights from the 23-24 school year include:

  • The Girls’ soccer team, led by Finley, Isabella, Lisette, Naomi, Narolyn, Saylor, and Summer, had several big wins in the fall, including their first two games against Kent Center School (2-0) and Indian Mountain School (6-2). Henry, Michael, Neo, River, and Sawyer also assumed leadership positions on the Boys’ soccer team.
  • The 8th graders had a strong presence on the winter basketball teams. Finley, Lisette, Narolyn, and Summer helped the Girls’ team clinch several big wins, while Henry, Michael, Neo, Nick, River, and Sawyer helped steer the Boys’ team through a strong season, including a few buzzer-beater wins. 
  • On the ski team, Emery and Isabella were pivotal in helping secure the team’s invitation to the Berkshire Hudson Ski League Championships. 
  • In the spring, Emery, Lisette, Naomi, Narolyn, Saylor, and Summer were forces on the tennis court for both singles and doubles matches. 
  • Finley, Henry, Isabella, Neo, and River all competed at a high level across a variety of track and field events, including long-distance races, relay races, long jump, and hurdles.
  • A number of 8th graders also excelled in athletic arenas outside of school: Nick’s rowing season culminated in an invitation to the Nationals competition in Florida; Sawyer competed in a number of  BMX races throughout the year; and Wynnie continued to hone her skills as an accomplished equestrian.

A bright future ahead

Empowered by a strong academic foundation and prepared to carry the school values of independence, purpose, and belonging with them, the 8th graders are now gearing up for high school. They will be attending a wide variety of public and independent schools:

  • Canterbury
  • Crosby High School
  • Frederick Gunn
  • Holy Cross
  • Housatonic High School
  • Kent
  • Lakeview High School
  • Millbrook
  • Taft 

The class of 2024 will be dearly missed, but they have left an indelible mark on the WMS community that will long outlast their time here. We are confident they will make a similar impact on the schools they attend next, and we cannot wait to see what this next chapter brings for them. 

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