Long Pond School recognizes academic excellence

36 students honored with presidential awards

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  • Mindy Ducharme (center) speaks to the crowd at the Long Pond School Presidential Awards on Thursday evening, May 24, 2018 at Farmstead Golf and Country Club in Lafayette. DuCharme is the Florence M. Burd Elementary Educational Support Professional of the Year. With Ducharme is Cindy Potter (L), the Long Pond School Educational Support Professional of the Year, and Deb Shick (R), the Florence M. Burd Teacher of the Year. Long Pond School Teacher of the Year, Stephanie Posser, was unable to attend Thursday's ceremony. Photos by Mandy Coriston

  • Andover Regional School District Superintendent Matthew Beck addresses students and parents

  • The lake at Farmstead Golf and Country Club in Lafayette was serene Thursday evening, May 24, 2018, as 8th-grade students from Long Pond School in Andover Township, along with their parents, gathered for the presentation of Presidential Awards.

  • Families gathered for dinner at the Farmstead Golf and Country Club on Thursday evening, May 24, 2018, as the Long Pond School honored 8th-grade students

  • Long Pond School 8th-graders Corinne Crowley and Bridget Kerrick enjoyed dinner together before receiving their Presidential Awards for Excellence.

  • 8th-grade students from Long Pond School in Andover Township show off their Presidential Awards,

By Mandy Coriston

— Nearly three dozen eighth-grade students and their families gathered at the Farmstead Golf and Country Club in Lafayette Thursday evening, May 24, as the Long Pond School recognized their academic accomplishments with the Presidential Awards for Excellence.

The national awards are sponsored by the US Department of Education, and sanctioned by the President and the Secretary of Education. The program, which began in 1983, acknowledges the achievements of students who carry a GPA of 3.5 or higher. The Long Pond School, part of the Andover Regional School District, presents the awards to their graduating eighth-graders who have maintained the required GPA for the duration of their middle school career. Five Presidential Awards for Academic Achievement were also given out Thursday evening. These awards are bestowed upon students who have shown exceptional perseverance through hardship or academic difficulties.

“This is the 34th year that Long Pond has participated in this program,” said principal Brian Fleming, “and it’s really exciting to be part of it.”

Fleming, who came to Long Pond in the middle of the 2016-17 school year, said that this graduating class of eighth graders is the first one that he’s truly gotten to know personally, and that he was proud of their accomplishments in and out of the classroom. The evening began with opening remarks by district Superintendent Matthew Beck, who said these awards were one of his favorite events of the year.

“Here, we are celebrating excellence, and it’s a reminder of our successes here in the district,” Beck said to the assembled students, “Your teachers and parents have equipped you with the tools to succeed, and now you are going to move forward with those tools.”

Beck concluded by telling the students to stay bold and brave, with a quote from Christopher Columbus: “You can never cross the ocean unless you have the courage to lose sight of the shore.”

Attendees were treated to a dinner buffet which included pasta dishes and salads, and even that middle school staple, chicken nuggets. Principal Fleming worked his way around the room, greeting parents and taking photographs while families chatted and enjoyed their meal. Students and friends Corinne Crowley and Bridget Kerrick were all smiles as they finished dinner and awaited the awards portion of the evening.

“We’re proud of our academic accomplishments,” Bridget said, “and I’m honored to be here with my classmates.”

Corinne said, “I enjoyed my time at Long Pond, and even though I am looking forward to high school and playing field hockey, I’m sad middle school is almost over.”

Zachary Bezold is also looking forward to high school sports. “Long Pond has been a lot of fun, but I can’t wait to join the swim team,” he said.

In addition to his high academic standing, Bezold is an advanced swimmer who already trains with the high school coach.

As dinnertime drew to a close, Principal Fleming took up the microphone to begin the awards ceremony. He spoke earnestly to his students, encouraging them to enjoy the moment with their families.

“I’m honored to recognize you tonight. You are all outstanding, and this is not just an eighth grade accomplishment. You maintained a 3.5 GPA through a four-year middle school career, while also excelling at band and chorus, on the sports field, and in all your clubs and activities,” he said. “You should all be proud of your effort and your work ethic.”

Fleming then called school counselor Megan Schmidt to the podium, who read a letter from President Trump congratulating the students on their achievements.

Florence M. Burd Principal Cindy Mizelle was on hand to introduce the district’s Staff of the Year recipients; winning Long Pond teacher Stephanie Posser could not attend, but Florence M. Burd teacher Deb Shick and the two winning support professionals, Cindy Potter (LPS) and Mindy DuCharme (FMB), came to the podium to be recognized and to offer words of wisdom to the attending students.

“You may not always be the best student in the class, or the best at sports," Ducharme said. "But it doesn’t matter, as long as you always remember to be kind, be courageous, and be the best you can be.”

The guest speaker of the night was 2017 Long Pond School graduate Declan McHale, who was the recipient of last year’s Superintendent Roundtable Award. McHale is currently finishing his freshman year at Pope John XXIII High School in Sparta. McHale said that high school was a big adjustment for him, especially since he had originally planned to attend Newton High School with his former classmates.

“I found myself struggling. The classes are much harder and there’s a lot more responsibility,” McHale said. "But I overcame a lot of the stress by joining activities, like the drama club, which helped me make new friends.” McHale offered some advice to the eighth-graders, saying “Don’t shrink from failure- learn and grow from it.”

The last to speak before the students received their awards, Andover Regional Board of Education President Robert Koroski said, “Take a moment, please, to recognize the moms and dads here. They’ve been through all the ups and downs with you. And your teachers and staff, who must wear so many hats these days- they all do it so well.”

After Koroski’s remarks, Counselor Schmidt resumed her place at the podium, and the awards ceremony commenced. Each student was individually called by Schmidt to receive a framed certificate with a raised seal and a lapel pin to commemorate their accomplishments. Superintendent Beck proudly handed each one to Principal Fleming, who in turn presented the students with their awards, along with a broad smile and a handshake. Fleming paused after each to allow time for photos to be taken and the whole crowd applauded and cheered every recipient, while a palpable sense of pride filled the banquet room.

With the awards handed out, it was time for the evening to wind down. As everyone enjoyed a dessert course of chocolate mousse, Principal Fleming addressed his students once again. “It seems the theme of the evening has been to take risks and not be afraid of failure. And that’s what makes us Chargers! I want you to continue doing everything you are doing. Work. Take risks. Challenge each other to be the best. Tonight is the first of many celebrations for us over the next month, and I want you to enjoy each one.”

Principal Fleming closed the event with a reading of the anonymous poem “Just One,, which speaks of the many ways a small effort can spark greatness. The poem ends with the lines, “One life can make a difference, that one life could be you.” After pausing a moment to let the students absorb the message, Fleming concluded, “Be the ones who dare to take the first step or say the first word. Continue to be the ones who cared, who helped, who served, who listened, and who made a difference.”

Presidential Award of Excellence Recipients:

Donato Bevaqua Zachary Bezold Sharlin Bravo Jessica Brittain Kiera Calderaso

Noelle Casperson Braden Coffey Corinne Crowley Qin Davis Victoria Dominguez

Julia Fitt Madison Freda Cristian Garcia Sarah Granholm Zachary Halteman

Sydney Harding Lauren Hild Meghan Karr Bridget Kerrick Adam Kesselman

Aidan Koroski Liam Kreusch Carly Mayhood Brandon Mertz Samantha Murray

Abigail Nicholas Kyle Papis Henri Pozuelo Isabelle Salitsky Madison Thalmann

Aidan Ward

Presidential Award of Achievement Recipients:

Hailey Bigam Gianna Celi Isabella Gambino Donovan Hetzel Ariana Loconte

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