Together Again At Last

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Carle Place middle schoolers celebrate moving up

The vast majority of the Class of 2024 took part in the bike parade from Rushmore Avenue Elementary School to the Carle Place Middle/High School. (Photos by Frank Rizzo)

For the 115 Carle Place eighth graders, a gorgeous late spring day presented them with a chance to experience class camaraderie after a long period of isolation and quarantine.

For the first time since their school shut down in March, members of the Class of 2024 were able to gather June 16, capping the school-centered activities with a “bike parade” from Rushmore Avenue Elementary School to the Carle Place Middle/High School. That morning, a “virtual” moving up ceremony was held to mark their passage to the high school.

Proud parents, relatives and friends lined Cherry Lane to cheer on the class, a vast majority of whose members participated in the parade.

Taking off their masks for a quick photo were, from left: Muddle School/High School Principal Thomas DePaola, Naomi March, Mackenzie O’Brien and Lia Byers. 

“It was an opportunity to come together and celebrate the end of a very strange year. It was a special year for them,” said Superintendent of Schools Christine Finn. “I think it was a labor of love for the middle school teachers. They wanted those kids to have an opportunity to be together, even on a bicycle.”

The morning began with a “Zoom” moving up ceremony live-streamed from the auditorium and put together by Seth Katz, the assistant principal at the middle school.

“It was very special, and the bike ride was the icing on the cake,” Finn said of the day’s activities.

Paul Naraine said he was looking forward to ninth grade.

Katz and MS/HS Principal Thomas DePaola, she said, “spoke from the podium and created little vignettes. They had a ‘processional’ in which they showed all the kids’ pictures. Then they had a montage of the whole year set to music.

“It was very nice—the only thing missing was the kids,” she added with a laugh.

Finn was on hand in front of the main entrance to help hand out commemorative “Class of 2024” plastic bottles to each student, most of whom made the trip on their bikes. A smattering of scooter riders, skateboarders and walkers also took part.

“What do you think this meant to the kids?” DePaola was asked.

“The eighth graders have been cooped up in their house for months. So when [Tara] Kennedy, who is the middle school class advisor, came up with the idea, I said, ‘Sure,’” he replied. “She mapped it all out, called the Third Precinct [police] and made it happen. It was a great day, both weather-wise and for the kids and their families. They needed this.”

The event earned good reviews, according to the principal.

“A lot of the parents said we should do this every year,” he noted. “So, some new traditions will be started.”

Asked about the school year in the time of pandemic, DePaola replied, “It was challenging in new ways. Every day brings a new challenge when you’re a middle school/high school principal. So this is another set of challenges. But it gave us an opportunity to shine as well.”

Whether schools open in September is up to the powers that be in Albany, but at least one student claimed to look forward to his freshman year.

“I’m excited for it,” said Paul Naraine, holding up two head portrait “cutouts” presented by his family “Just being back in school and not being at home.”

The eighth-grader said he had been spending his summer biking, running and playing basketball.

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