Next Stop, High School: Class of 2022 Says Farewell to Elm

Jairus Ponce receives the Cougar Pride Award

Jairus Ponce acknowledges the applause of his classmates as he is named the 2022 winner of the Cougar Pride Award, Elm Middle School's top honor for a student. (D401 photo by Dave Porreca)

NOTE: For photos of the 2022 Elm graduation ceremony, visit this gallery. To watch a recording of the ceremony, scroll down this page or click here.

The 8th-grade Class of 2022 — some 220 students strong — said farewell to Elm Middle School in a graduation ceremony held Sunday, May 22, at EPHS Stadium.

The students received their diplomas from the District 401 Board of Education as proud family members cheered them on.

Principal Ms. Ashley Groeneveld presided over the ceremony. The program began at 10 a.m. with the Pledge of Allegiance, led by Elm 8th graders Ewelina Swinderski and Beanie Martinico.

Superintendent of Schools Dr. Leah Gauthier and Board President Mr. Frank J. Parisi addressed the audience.

This was followed by presentation of the Cougar Pride Award to 8th grader Jairus Ponce. The award is Elm's most prestigious honor, given each year to a student who displays exemplary leadership qualities and who embodies the school's values of kindness, commitment and compassion.  

All faculty members are invited to submit nominations; the nominated students are then voted on by the entire faculty. Elm science teacher Ms. Nicole Hanson presented the award after reading a series of faculty comments praising Jairus.

Principal Groeneveld then presented the Class of 2022 to the Board. Elm administrators read each student's name as the 8th graders received their diplomas.

Each student shook hands with Dr. Gauthier and Board members Mr. Parisi (president), Mr. Michael V. Scheidt (vice president), Mrs. Susan S. Capraro (secretary), Mrs. Mary Bruscato, Mr. Timothy P. Loughnane, Mr. Jonathan M. Rivera and Mr. Peter A. Volpe.

Afterward, the new graduates reunited with their families, posed for pictures and enjoyed the moment — a fitting end to their middle school years of hard work, not least of which included overcoming the obstacles caused by a global pandemic.

Congratulations, Elm Class of '22!

Watch the 2022 EPHS Graduation Ceremony

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