The Journey To Middle School: Moving on from Elementary School

Promotion ceremonies for South Pasadena’s three public schools were held at Arroyo Vista, Marengo and Monterey Hills elementary as 5th graders look ahead to middle school years

PHOTO: Bill Glazier | | The 5th grade promotion at Arroyo Vista Elementary was held in the school’s courtyard.

Off they go, headed for new educational opportunities as hundreds of fifth graders in the South Pasadena Unified School District were promoted in recent days as they now focus on their middle school years.

There to support them were parents, grandparents, relatives and friends, many holding flowers and balloons for the young students taking a big step in the academic world.

After six years at the elementary level and saying goodbye to the K-5 years calls for a celebration.

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It’s a major milestone, heralding a new phase in a child’s live, and, well, yes, it’s a big deal.

They grow up fast, and in a blink of an eye have reached their teen years. So, while some in the crowd at the 5th grade promotions wiped away tears, others captured the proud moment with cellphone photos and videos.

Indeed, leaving elementary school is, yes, a big deal.

Here’s a sampling of what happened at each promotion:


Arroyo Vista Elementary School


Moving onto middle school will be a “brand new world,” for the 124 fifth graders taking part in the 5th grade promotion at Arroyo Vista Elementary School, AV Principal Cheryl Busick told the departing 2018 class.

PHOTO: Bill Glazier | | Family members of D.J. Ebner celebrated his promotion from Arroyo Vista Elementary School with some large face images of the fifth grader.

She’s confident they are leaving the campus with the necessary tools to get the job done at the middle school level of their education.

PHOTO: Bill Glazier | | Following the processional, featuring “Dear Theodosia” from Hamilton and “This is Me” from “The Greatest Showman” members of the 5th grade were ready for the Arroyo Vista Promotion Ceremony.

“I have no doubt that great success and happiness is in your future,” she told the students gathered in the school’s courtyard in front of parents, relatives and friends. “Today marks a new beginning for you. As you say goodbye to elementary school, you are now saying hello to middle school – a place that will introduce new learning experiences to you each day. Know that we adults are looking to you to make the future a kinder, better place. You can do it! Please be reminded to take great pride in all of your accomplishments.”

PHOTO: Bill Glazier | | Under the direction of Kelly Coughlin, the AV Band performed at the 5th grade promotion

“Life is a Journey” was the theme of this year’s promotion, prompting Busick to say, “I hope that throughout your journey you remember be kind. I believe as you leave AV you have the power to spread kindness. Do you know that happiness and kindness go hand-in-hand? They cannot be separated. The reward of kind words and actions is the happiness they cause in others and the happiness they cause in ourselves. The very process of speaking kind words brings a happiness all its own. Take time every day to be kind to others.”

PHOTO: Bill Glazier | | Arroyo Vista Elementary School 5th graders walk down the path for the promotion ceremony.

Songs, including “We Love AV” adapted from “I Love L.A. by Randy Newman, “Count on Me” by Bruno Mars, “You Were the One” by David Plenn, “Keep Your Head Up” by Jason Mraz and “Home” by Phillip Phillips were sung by the fifth graders. The ceremony also included Arroyo Vista memories and reflections by students on friendships they established over the years.


A longtime tradition, students tugged on the old school bell six times, one for each of the grades on campus –  kindergarten to 5th grade.


It was then time to present the promotion certificates to students prior to saying goodbye to their elementary school years.


“The AV staff and I are thankful to have had the opportunity to be a part of memories that you will hold dear for a lifetime,” Busick told the 5th grade class. “Know that wonderful opportunities lie ahead. Enjoy your journey and settle for nothing less than happiness.”


Marengo Elementary School


Marengo Elementary School Principal Patricia Cheadle wished the 130 5th graders well as they move onto new educational pursuits during their middle school years.

PHOTO: Bill Glazier | | Members of the Marengo Band, led by Kelly Coughlin, performed during the 5th grade promotion.

“I am so proud of all that you have accomplished during your time at Marengo,” Cheadle told the students at start of the hour-long program on the school playground. This year’s theme for the 5th grade promotion was “Choose Your Own Adventure.”

She’s convinced they will.

PHOTO; Bill Glazier | | Many in the crowd at the Marengo Elementary School promotion captured the moment using cellphone cameras.

“It has been a pleasure to serve you as your principal and to see you grow with each new experience and challenge you have faced. With the support of your families, teachers and Marengo staff, you have learned so much, created special memories and developed lifelong friendships.”


During the program, students reflected on their years at Marengo, highlighted by messages from first and second semester student body presidents Andrew Falk and Gabriel Vogel, respectively, and sung a variety of songs, including “Thunder” by Imagine Dragons, “Tour of the States” by Renald Rancoeur, “You’ve Got a Friend in Me” by Randy Newman, “Hall of Fame” by The Script and “This is Me” from the movie “The Greatest Showman.”

PHOTO; Bill Glazier | Marengo Elementary School 5th grade students were promoted during an hour-long ceremony on the campus playground.

Presentation of promotion certificates were made by Cheadle and Assistant Principal Katy Nielsen.

Recognized for their instruction were Marengo 5th grade teachers Ronald Aschieris, Jana Orozco, Linda Park, Rachael Rodriquez and Chelsea Webb.

Cheadle encouraged the outgoing class to always practice “positive Marengo character when you set goals, make decisions and work with others,” she said during her remarks. “Don’t forget to be safe, responsible and respectful. We will miss you so much, but we know that you will continue to make us proud as you choose your next adventure. We can’t wait to hear all about middle school. You are going to be amazing.”


Monterey Hills Elementary School


Class memories, songs, a tribute to a retiring teacher and remarks by Principal Dr. Laurie Narro were all part of the 5th grade promotion at Monterey Hills Elementary School.

PHOTO: Monterey Hills School | | Retiring teacher Kris Barker was honored during the 5th grade promotion at Monterey Hills Elementary School.

After classmates talked about their favorite moments during their early years of education, students sang “Can’t Stop the Feeling” by Justin Timberlake, “Imagine” by John Lennon, “I Believe” by DJ Khalid and “Hall of Fame” by Danny O’Donaghue, Mark Sheehan and James Barry.

PHOTO: Monterey Hills School | | Fifth graders took part in the promotion ceremony at Monterey Hills Elementary School.

Retiring teacher Kris Barker was thanked for her many years of service in the district and MHS 5th grade teachers, Nan Freitas, Ron Millar and Erica Hooper, Jennifer Detterich and Dawn Tull, were recognized for organizing the ceremony.

PHOTO; Monterey Hills School | | Trisha Chakraborty, Sky Gray, Galilea Salas and Nadia Cho performed the National Anthem on flute during the 5th grade promotion at Monterey Hills Elementary School.

In a heartfelt message, Narro wished the 115 students in the promotion class well as they move into their middle school years. “Wasn’t it just yesterday that you were sitting in your kindergarten classrooms, or rolling around on your tricycles on the kindergarten playground. I was there when many of you learned to read, calculated your first mathematics problems and created beautiful pieces of artwork. You became inventors, built your knowledge of robotics, and learned how to run your own business in BizWorld. I was lucky enough to watch as you sent from quiet, unsure students to students who wer confident, inquisitive and opinionated. I saw you move from students who tattled to students who stood up for their peers.”

Narro was there as they grew up. “I watched as you built your scholarship, your citizenship and your leadership,” she said with a smile.

The principal told the 2018 class to “come back and see us, and continue your imagination of a world that lives as one,” before concluding, “I close by offering congratulations to you. Community, aren’t we lucky that these children are our future!”