Intermediate School Hosts Drive-Through Celebration

first_imgBy MADDY VITALEA traditional graduation for Ocean City Intermediate School eighth-graders was not possible this year due to COVID-19.But that did not deter Schools Superintendent Dr. Kathleen Taylor, OCIS Principal Michael Mattina and a host of other administrators and faculty to cheer on the graduates and celebrate their milestone on Monday.The school district held a processional at the intermediate school to recognize the honorees who joined in a drive-through ceremony. School staff held up Class of 2020 signs, blew bubbles and tossed out candy to the sounds of music, while carloads of families with balloons fixed to their vehicles honked their horns and waved as they entered the school parking lot.School guidance counselor Angelo DiBartolo in the foreground and Principal Michael Mattina cheer on students.Dr. Taylor, Mattina and faculty lined the outside of the school and called out “Great job,” “You did it,” and “Congratulations.”Monday was an important day for not just the students, but also for the teachers, Dr. Taylor and Mattina noted.“We are happy to have this to get to cheer the students on. We get to see them and they get to see us,” Dr. Taylor said. “It is really about showing the kids love and support.”The processional was just the first part of the festivities on Monday. At 6 p.m. a live virtual graduation airing on the district’s website and on its Facebook page was another event for families to watch. They could also download it to save for years to come, Mattina said.Kelsea Bowman and her family ride by as Dr. Kathleen Taylor claps for her and fellow graduates.“Obviously, this is a different time, but we wanted to do something important for the kids and the teachers. We want our kids back to school, but this is a way we can still see them and celebrate their achievement,” Mattina said.The idea was weeks in the making.“We have been in meetings on Zoom trying to come up with an idea of what we could do for the kids. When we got this idea of a processional, the teachers really stepped up and took it to the next level,” Mattina said. “The city and the police department were fantastic. They worked with us to make this happen.”Students and family, including Skylar Cohen’s mom, PTA President Jocelyn Palaganas, beam during the processional.The district has had to navigate through a series of changes in Gov. Phil Murphy’s executive orders arising from the pandemic. On March 16, schools throughout the state were closed. By the following day, virtual learning began in Ocean City.Dr. Taylor said in this unprecedented time, the students have taught the adults some things.“Kids taught us a lot in that they are resilient,” she said. “They have persevered. The ease in which they have handled the transition has been outstanding.”As the processional unfolded, teachers and staff enthusiastically cheered during the pep-rally style event.OCIS Guidance Counselor Angelo DiBartolo laughed as graduates drove up.“This is great,” he said, as he shouted out congratulatory remarks to the students.Stepfanie Grisinger, the OCIS student assistance coordinator who heads up the school’s Wellness Center, waved a sign honoring the 2020 graduates.“The district definitely came together and made this an exciting time for the students,” Grisinger pointed out. “This is a way we can show the students, while social distancing, how much we care.”The live virtual graduation included five student speakers, a featured guest speaker and an eighth grade student who sang the National Anthem. To view the graduation visit the district’s Facebook page or go to the Ocean City School District website at social worker Stepfanie Grisinger proudly displays the sign to honor the graduates.Some families adorned their vehicles with balloons and banners.Car after car drove up for the ceremony.A large banner is easily viewed from Bay Avenue. Ocean City Intermediate School faculty members cheer on eighth graders in a processional to celebrate their graduation.last_img read more