HBT Closes Out an Evening of Moving Up From the Middle

HBT Closes Out an Evening of Moving Up From the Middle photo

Harry B. Thompson Middle School provided the nightcap festivities, holding court on the stage at the LIU Tilles Center as it followed its sister school, South Woods, in promoting its eighth-graders to the high school.

The HBT jazz band provided the prelude and the chamber orchestra performed the processional, “Pomp and Circumstance,” followed by the presentation of the colors by Tsz Ching Chow and Evan Strominger. Student Chloe Zelenitz led the Pledge of Allegiance after the chamber orchestra’s rendition of “The Star-Spangled Banner.” The eighth-grade chorus would later provide an entertaining interlude titled, “I Lived,” which was the theme of the ceremony.

Board of Education vice president and proud HBT graduate parent Tracy Frankel provided words of wisdom to the entire eighth-grade class of 308. Student Council members Leah Corcoran and Brandon Mazen served as masters of ceremony, with student speaker Ian Brecker providing a keynote address in which he encouraged his fellow classmates to step out of their comfort zones to realize their full potential. 

Superintendent of Schools Dr. Tom Rogers, whose offices are located at South Woods Middle School, joked about requiring a passport to visit HBT, but with sincerity, reflected on the fulfillment his visits give him. “Every time I am in Thompson it seems as if I have been invited to see something special,” said Dr. Rogers, who credited retiring Principal James Kassebaum with playing a part in the successes he has witnessed. Dr. Rogers also shared some special sentiments with the class in the form of a letter he wrote, in which he reflected on a year in which middle school students led the charge to be changemakers in their community and to make a positive impact in their school and in the greater community. 

“It’s been a year of sweet voices raised nationally and those raised in unison closer to home,” Dr. Rogers said. “Together, what you have shown is that age is no barrier to impact, and your voices are audible and people are listening. Your voices are already shaping the future.”

In his final middle school promotion address, Kassebaum acknowledged the great work of his faculty and staff, asking those present to stand for recognition by the audience. He then turned his attention to the students, thanking them for making him proud and encouraging them to be open to a life of discovery and overcoming challenges. “Build resiliency and do not accept failure as a destination,” Kassebaum said.

Then, joined by members of the HBT faculty and staff, Kassebaum awarded the middle school diplomas. As they exited the Tilles auditorium as newly declared high school freshmen, the former HBT students held their heads up high with their eyes wide open, ready to be heard by even larger audiences and take on greater feats.