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‘Be proud of who you are’

Lake Placid Elementary celebrates fifth graders’ transition to middle school

Mavrix S. shares a laugh with his teacher, Alexa Bowler, at Lake Placid Elementary School’s fifth grade recognition ceremony on Monday. (Enterprise photo — Sydney Emerson

LAKE PLACID — Lake Placid Elementary School’s 45 fifth-grade students celebrated the end of elementary school and the start of summer vacation with their family and friends at LPES’s fifth grade ceremony on Monday.

“Today is all about you — you have accomplished so much,” LPES Principal Sonja Franklin told the students. “We are incredibly proud of you. From your first days in kindergarten to this moment, you have grown into knowledge, confidence and definitely character. You’re formed friendships and created memories that will last a lifetime.”

Franklin urged the students to stay true to themselves as they move on to middle school, a sentiment that Lake Placid High School Class of 2024 Salutatorian Jesse Marshall echoed in his remarks to the fifth-graders.

“Be proud of who you are,” Marshall said. “Middle school is the start of pressure to change. Now, change isn’t always a good thing, nor is it always a bad one. It’s what you make of it. My advice, as somebody who has already gone through and dealt with all those pressures, is to try something new but stay true to you. Don’t change who you are just because someone tells you to.”

Marshall told the students that middle school, though challenging, is their chance to branch out and try new sports, arts and activities. He reminded them to take care of themselves along the way.

Grant H. smiles after receiving a certificate of completion at Lake Placid Elementary School’s fifth grade recognition ceremony on Monday. (Enterprise photo — Sydney Emerson)

“This big day marks the next leap forward in your lives. You have defeated the first boss in the game of life,” he said. “Have fun in middle school. … Your mental health is more important than your grades.”

After the ceremony, Franklin said that this was a chance to give the students some closure on their elementary school years and prepare them for the big changes ahead.

“This marks a transition from elementary-school world into the big grown-up, middle-school world,” she said. “We’ve been slowly training them along the way. We have that departmentalization, so they have familiarity with working with different teachers, but this is a whole new ball game for them.”

Fifth-grader Estelle W. said that she has mixed feelings about leaving LPES.

“I was kind of nervous, but (the ceremony) was fun,” she said. “I’m kind of sad that I’m leaving the whole school. I’ve had a lot of memories here and it’s really fun.”

Liliana D. accepts a certificate of completion from her teacher, Jon Fremante, at Lake Placid Elementary School’s fifth grade recognition ceremony on Monday. (Enterprise photo — Sydney Emerson)

Her favorite part of fifth grade was science and social studies.

“Mr. (Jon) Fremante, our teacher, he was really funny,” Estelle said.

As for her big move to the middle school, she said she’s looking forward to trying their school lunches, which have “more of a variety” than LPES.

Classmate Lilah M. said her favorite parts of fifth grade were the “cool experiments” in science class and field trips to Albany and the water park. She’s looking forward to “all the new teachers and all the new classes,” at the middle school, she said.

Alexa Bowler, one of LPES’s three fifth grade teachers, said that Monday’s ceremony was important to both the students and teachers.

Liam H. accepts a certificate of completion from his teacher, Buffy Maiorca, at Lake Placid Elementary School’s fifth grade recognition ceremony on Monday. (Enterprise photo — Sydney Emerson)

“It’s watching those kids that you had in kindergarten that are now leaving the building. We’re passing them off to their next big adventure,” she said. “This is a really big deal for (the students).”

Bowler’s 2023-24 class was “wonderful,” she said.

“Most years they’re wonderful, but this year, they were really awesome. I built a really, really tight bond with some of these kids. I will be sad to see these guys leave,” she said.

If she could leave her kids with any advice, she’d tell them “don’t forget you’re you.”

“It is that important that it should be said multiple times because, of course, middle school is the time where they’re trying to figure themselves out,” Bowler said. “They’re trying to fit in. They don’t know what’s going to be best for them so they try everything, and a lot of them just forget where they came from and what they actually enjoy doing.”

Franklin agreed.

“Be true to yourself,” Franklin said to the students. “Don’t lose who you are. Try new things, explore, find even more of who you really are and let that personality grow.”

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