On the morning of June 8, the PDS Lower School gathered for the final assembly of the school year. The Fourth Grade and their families attended in person in the Princeton Day School Athletic Center for the first time this year and PreK through Grade 3 homerooms watched on the DTEN big screens from their classrooms. [The Flickr album linked below includes great photos of each classroom and all of the LS faculty, as well as Fourth Grade highlights!}
The assembly capped off a year in which the Lower School families, students, faculty and staff worked together to overcome the challenges of learning during a global pandemic while embracing the year-long "Who Are We?" theme designed to explore self-understanding and empathy. The final assembly also officially marked the Fourth Grade's departure from Lower School and entry into the middle school phase of their learning journey.
Head of School Paul J. Stellato began the ceremony with praise for the unbreakable resolve of Lower School students and their teachers this year. In his remarks to the Fourth Grade students, Mr. Stellato declared:
You all represent the sturdy foundation of our School. Yours are the growing shoulders on which we stand to peer into the future. Yours are the curiosity and expectation that flow upstream to nurture the Middle and Upper Schools. Yours is the joy that we strive hard to capture in everything we do... Fourth graders and all students of the Lower School, you have met every challenge, accepted and nourished every opportunity and fashioned a year for our School in which we can take pride."
Head of Lower School Dr. Sandra Wang reflected on the school year that started for teachers in the summer when there were often more questions than answers, and the journey towards today's closing moment:
From September 9 to June 8, the Lower School was home to smiling faces, children's laughter, new relationships formed, curiosity sparked and "aha!" moments made... Regardless of where we were, children were safe and children learned... how to collaborate, how to advocate for themselves and others, and about empathy and resilience... I truly believe that we owe the success of this school year to the tenacity of every single one of you— students, faculty, staff and families.
This year's assembly performances were lovingly prepared in advance by music teacher Julia Beckmann starring students across the grades, and presented on the large screen in the field house. The video presentation included "The PDS Song," a multi-sequence dance in which each grade performed a dance originating from a different part of the world, and "The Panther Hat Song."
The assembly closed with the Presentation of the Fourth Grade as each student was called by name to walk across the stage to receive a certificate of completion. Led by their teachers, Teddy Brown, Daniel Cohen, Erin Pelc and Jennifer Vradenburgh, the fourth graders then processed out of the Athletic Center to rousing applause from their family members and headed back to the Lower School one last time to enjoy a final goodbye with the PreK-Grade 3 students and all of the LS teachers, who cheered them through the hallways.
View today's final Lower School festivities in our Flickr album here!
Photos (from top): the Fourth Grade, families and attending faculty and staff in the AC; Daniel Cohen's class,Teddy Brown & Erin Pelc's class and Jennifer Vradenburgh's class in the amphitheater after the assembly.