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Resilient Eighth Graders Ready for the Next Step


Posted Date: 04/26/2024

Resilient Eighth Graders Ready for the Next Step

“Resilience” is the word that Wantagh Middle School Principal Anthony Ciuffo would use to define this year’s eighth grade class. He spoke proudly of their ability to demonstrate this quality at their graduation ceremony on June 11.

The large lawn, surrounded on three sides by the school they called home for three years, was the setting for the milestone moment. The graduates came out of the school to “Pomp and Circumstance” and took their spots in front of the stage. 

Mr. Ciuffo said that this class demonstrated resilience time and time again. They dealt with the effects of the pandemic during their most formative years. Students who attended Forest Lake faced the loss of a classmate, James Lodato, to cancer, and a seat was saved in his honor. 

“I think your generation will benefit having learned resilience quicker than most,” Mr. Ciuffo told the graduates, “but the journey to get there sure has been challenging and I continue to admire all of you for having the ability to persevere through difficult times and demonstrate resilience consistently throughout your childhood.”

Student speakers reflected on their three years of middle school, and looked ahead to the next chapter, which will begin in a few months on the other side of the colonnade at Wantagh High School. 

Ellie Sedler looked back on sixth grade, when students entered a new school with an unfamiliar routine. Quickly, they learned how to get around the building, manage the schoolwork and make new friends. 

“I am appreciative of all of the kind teachers and staff who made my transition to middle school a lot more comfortable,” she said. 

Alex Jung spoke about the changes that happened in seventh grade, like taking midterms for the first time and being able to play on school sports teams. But some of the biggest changes, he said, were in personal growth. 

“We all started to show we might be like in the future as we grow further away from childhood,” he said. “We all started acting more mature and we started to grow as human beings.”

As eighth graders, Ava Panella said, they were the oldest students in the school and had an obligation to serve as role models for others. She valued the chance to be a Wantagh Ambassador and visit fifth grade classes to prepare the next generation of students for middle school life.

“We are ready for the next step,” she said.

Anthony Avitabile looked to that next step, as his speech focused on the future. He said middle school has left them well-equipped to overcome any challenges they face in their four years of high school. They will have more freedom, but that comes with increased responsibility, he noted.

“Everything we do is a reflection of our character,” Anthony said, “and we want to have a legacy of hard work, good citizenship and great achievements.” 

WMS Graduation

WMS Graduation

WMS Graduation

WMS Graduation

WMS Graduation

WMS Graduation

WMS Graduation

WMS Graduation