By Stephanie Choate
On her and her classmate’s last day being educated in Williston— the town many of them have lived in their entire lives—eighth grade student Ella Workman spoke of the impact of the Williston School District.
“Middle school is really where I believe students grow,” she said. “I don’t think any other four years have changed me this much.”
Workman spoke to a standing-room-only crowd of family, friends and faculty, who gathered June 13 to watch 116 eighth-grade students complete their time as Williston Central School students.
Many of her classmates, she said, entered fifth grade afraid to take risks—whether it was out of fear of failure of fear of looking bad.
“We’re teenagers,” she said. “If you expect us to be perfect, you’re out of luck.”
As the years passed, she said she heard excuses less and less. Still, she said, middle school has never been a perfect haven—she watched her classmates struggle with everything from their sexuality to bullying and trouble with friends.
Workman encouraged her classmates to keep taking risks and keep learning about themselves as they move into the larger pool of high school.
Katie Usher, who also spoke on behalf of the class of 2013, said the class has become a family.
“The only word to describe what the people in this room mean to each other is love,” she said. “The memories created here will never leave our thoughts, they will only help us in life later down the road.”
Williston Central School Principal Jackie Parks said the school strives to help each student become a good person, learner and citizen.
“We want each student to shine in his or her own special way, and they certainly do,” she said. “You will make is all proud.”
During the ceremony, students dedicated the yearbook to Mary Jane Wirsing. The night was also a send-off of sorts for Wirsing, who is set to retire this year.
The school also gave out a number of awards to the graduating eighth graders.
Max Hamrell snagged the Gordon Jones Memorial Award—which honors a former teacher who died at age 29—and one of five Allen S. Myers Spirit of Williston Awards.
“I really cannot express how much I’m going to miss this kid,” said Deb Taylor, Harbor House teacher.
Harbor House classmate Taya LePrevost also took home the award, as well as Sophie Boyer of Full House, Alexis Meyer of Swift House and Cathryn Belanger of Voyager House.
The Al Myers Spirit of History Award went to Maddie Collins and the WCS Science Award to Jacob Parker.
New this year was the Margaret Munt literacy award, honoring late WCS teacher Munt’s love of teaching and love of books. The award went to four students—Isabella Margi, Alyson Detch, Julia Cronan and Kaitlyn Kaplan.
Finally, the graduating eighth graders walked across the gym one by one in front cheering friends and family. A graduation dance after the ceremony marked their last event in Williston before embarking on their next big challenge.