CORTLANDT MANOR, N.Y. - A group of 75 fifth-grade Frank G. Lindsey Elementary School students sat before a camera-toting audience including mothers, fathers, aunts, uncles and grandparents - the kids all waiting their turn to shake their teachers' hands and collect a diploma, officiating them into sixth grade.
"The parents, the teachers, have carved and sculpted the students that will go on to Blue Mountain Middle School," said Daniel McCann, Hendrick Hudson School District superintendent. The graduation also marked McCann's final elementary school moving-up ceremony. He will retire at the end of the month and be replaced by interim superintendent Brian Monahan.
Students wore their best dresses and button-up shirts for the ceremony. Mothers wept and fathers looked on through camera lenses as the chorus sang "I'll Be There," in the unmistakable soprano of a children's choir.
Principal Donna Torrisi promised she would visit the new graduates at Blue Mountain Middle School the following year, and thanked the district that made her an elementary school principal, saying, "I consider it the biggest gift of my life."
"Everybody needs a good moment today," said teaching assistant Frank Donohue, or "Mr. D," as students know him. Donohue said the ceremony, his 11th, wasn't just for parents waiting in the wings with flowers, or round-faced students looking for a certificate. It's "for the community," he said.
Madison Higheloom, 11, in a summer dress for the 90-degree-and-climbing temperature, described feeling nervous excitement for the year to come. "It feels really good," she said. "I feel like I've accomplished a lot, and I'm really happy and proud."
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